RELATING TO THE LIBERATION OF THE IRAQI PEOPLE AND THE VALIANT SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES AND COALITION FORCES -- (House of Representatives - March 17, 2004)
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Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H. Res. 557. I do so obviously not because I oppose praising our armed forces, but because our policy in the Persian Gulf is seriously flawed and an effort to commend our forces should not be used to rubber-stamp a policy of folly. To do so is disingenuous. Though this resolution may yield political benefits to those who are offering it, it will prove to be historically inaccurate. Justifying pre-emption is not the answer to avoiding appeasement.
Very few wars are necessary. Very few wars are good and just, including this one. In reality, most wars are costly beyond measure in life and limb and economic hardship, including this one. There have been 566 deaths, 10,000 casualties, and hundreds of billions of dollars for a "victory" that remains elusive. Rather than bragging of victory we should recognize that the war that rages on has intensified and spread, leaving our allies and our own people less safe.
Denying that we are interested in oil and that occupying an Islamic country is not an affront to the sensitivities of most Arabs and Muslims is foolhardy. Reasserting U.N. Security Council resolutions as the justification for war further emphasizes our sacrifice of sovereignty and Congress's reneging on its Constitutional responsibility on war.
This resolution seems to forget that for too long we were staunch military and economic allies of Saddam Hussein. This in itself only demonstrates the folly of our policy of foreign meddling over many decades from the days of the U.S. installing the Shah of Iran to the current world-wide spread of hostilities and hatred, our unnecessary intervention abroad shows so clearly how unintended consequences come back to haunt generation after generation.
Someday our leaders ought to ask why Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, Mexico and many other nations are not potential targets of an attack by Islamic extremists.
Falsely claiming that al-Qaeda was aligned with Saddam Hussein and using this as a rallying cry to war has now resulted in al-Qaeda actually having a strong presence and influence in Iraq. Falsely claiming that Iraq had a supply of weapons of mass destruction has resulted in a dramatic loss of U.S. credibility, as anti-Americanism spreads around the world. As a result of this, al-Qaeda recruitment sadly has been dramatically boosted.
That Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator was never in question, so reaffirming it here is unnecessary. What we must keep in mind, however, is that Saddam Hussein was attacking his own people and making war on Iran when he was essentially an ally of the United States-to the point where the U.S. Government assisted him in his war on Iran.
This support is made all the more clear when viewing recently-declassified State Department cables in the days after Donald Rumsfeld traveled to Iraq as a U.S. envoy in 1983. Here are two such examples:
(1) United States Embassy in the United Kingdom Cable from Charles H. Price II to the Department of State. "Rumsfeld One-on-One Meeting with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister," December 21, 1983.
Presidential envoy Donald Rumsfeld and Tariq Aziz meet for two and one-half hours and agree that "the U.S. and Iraq shared many common interests," including peace in the Persian Gulf, the desire to diminish the influence of Iran and Syria, and support for reintegrating Egypt, isolated since its unilateral peace with Israel, into the Arab world. Rumsfeld comments on Iraq's oil exports, suggests alternative pipeline facilities, and discusses opposition to international terrorism and support for a fair Arab-Israeli peace. He and Aziz discuss the Iran-Iraq war "in detail." Rumsfeld says that the administration wants an end to the war, and offers "our willingness to do more." He mentions chemical weapons, possible escalation of fighting in the Gulf, and human rights as impediments to the U.S. government's desire to do more to help Iraq, then shifts the conversation to U.S. opposition to Syria's role in Lebanon.
(2) Department of State, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Action Memorandum from Richard W. Murphy to Lawrence S. Eagleburger. "EXIM [Export-Import] Bank Financing for Iraq" [Includes Letter From Lawrence S. Eagleburger to William Draper, Dated December 24, 1983], December 22, 1983.
Pursuant to the Reagan administration's policy of increasing support for Iraq, the State Department advises Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Lawrence Eagleburger to urge the U.S. Export-Import Bank to provide Iraq with financial credits. Eagleburger signs a letter to Eximbank saying that since Saddam Hussein had complied with U.S. requests, and announced the end of all aid to the principal terrorist group of concern to the U.S., and expelled its leader (Abu Nidal), "The terrorism issue, therefore, should no longer be an impediment to EXIM financing for U.S. sales to Iraq." The financing is to signal U.S. belief in Iraq's future economic viability, secure a foothold in the potentially large Iraqi market, and "go far to show our support for Iraq in a practical, neutral context."
This resolution praises the new constitution for Iraq, written by U.S. experts and appointees. No one stops to consider the folly of the U.S. and the West believing they can write a constitution for a country with a completely different political and social history than ours. The constitution that the occupying forces have come up with is unworkable and absurd. It also will saddle the Iraqi people with an enormous and socialist-oriented government. In this, we are doing the Iraqi people no favor.
Article 14 of the new constitution grants the Iraqi people the "right" to "security, education, health care, and social security," and affirms that " the Iraqi state . . . shall strive to provide prosperity and employment opportunities to the people." This sounds more like the constitution of the old USSR than that of a free and market-oriented society.
Further, this constitution declares that Iraqi citizens "shall not be permitted to possess, bear, buy, or sell arms" except by special license-denying the right of self defense to the Iraqi people just as their security situation continues to deteriorate. The Iraqi constitution also sets up a quota system for the Iraqi electoral system, stating that women should "constitute no less than one-quarter of the members of the National Assembly." Is this kind of social engineering in Iraq on very left-liberal lines really appropriate? Are we doing the Iraqi people any favors with this approach?
We all praise our troops and support them. Had this bill merely done that I would have been an enthusiastic supporter. But in politicizing the issue rather than simply praising the armed forces, I regret that I cannot support it. Challenging one's patriotism for not supporting this resolution and our policy in the Persian Gulf, however, is not appropriate.
We should all be cautious in endorsing and financing a policy that unfortunately expands the war rather than ending it. That, sadly, is what this legislation does.