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Iraq Watch

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IRAQ WATCH -- (House of Representatives - July 06, 2004)

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Gingrey). Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 7, 2003, the gentleman from Hawaii (Mr. Abercrombie) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.

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Mr. HOEFFEL. If the gentleman will yield, I certainly respect and agree with the comments of the gentleman from Washington. This sovereignty in Iraq does seem like a false sovereignty, when you realize the facts on the ground.
Number one, this new Iraq government has no ability to protect itself or its citizens or defend against the violent insurgency. All of the security requirements remain on American troops, approaching 140,000 American troops, and the sad fact is we have yet to stabilize that country. We have not been able to contain the insurgency.

The highest suggested number of people in that insurgency, the highest estimate is 10,000, and 10,000 violent insurgents have not been controlled, cannot yet be contained by 140,000 brave American troops. The reality is we do not have enough troops to stabilize Iraq; we have not had enough; we do not have the international troops; and we do not have the Arab League troops that we should have.

This new sovereign government does not seem so sovereign. They are also not in control of their own reconstruction.
The $20 billion of American funds appropriated by this Congress for reconstruction, the gentleman is absolutely correct, has not yet been spent, and, when it is spent, it will be controlled by the American embassy. This is probably the right thing, because it is American dollars, but it is an all-American list of contractors, many of them picked with no-bid contracts, no-bid awards, like Halliburton, and the so-called sovereign government of Iraq will have no control over that money.

Thirdly, they were talking the other day about delaying elections. The White House said no, you are not. We are going to have elections, whether you are ready or not, in January of 2005.

I do not want to see elections delayed either. I would like to see them moved up even sooner. But here is this Iraqi sovereign government that does not control its own security, does not control the reconstruction in Iraq, cannot even decide when to have elections, and yet the President wants to continue this fiction that we have established a sovereign nation of Iraq.

It has not happened yet because we do not have security. Fundamentally we do not have security. We cannot meet our shared goals. I think every member of the Iraq Watch, today and for the last 15 months we have been doing this, has agreed with the President's goals of a stable, peaceful Iraq that is pluralistic and hopefully democratic. None of those goals can be reached without security. We cannot have reconstruction without security; we cannot have a sovereign nation under a new government without security; we cannot have elections without security.

This President has been unable to attract the international troops, the NATO troops, the Western European troops, the Arab League nation troops, that clearly need to be added to our brave American troops to get up to the several hundred thousand troops that Army Chief of Staff Shinseki quite rightly said a year and a half ago would be needed.

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Mr. HOEFFEL. The gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Strickland) is absolutely right about this. And one of the important reasons that we are talking about the mistakes that were made is to make sure that it does not happen again. We do not want history to repeat itself.

I think every member of Iraq Watch would agree that in the age of terror that we find ourselves, it may be necessary in the future to use our American force preemptively to protect America. The days of the armada, of an opposing enemy forming off our harbors or an army amassing on our borders, are probably over and we may need to quickly use preemptive force in the future. That is the Bush doctrine, preemptive use of force, but it has certain requirements that were not present this time.

First, you need accurate intelligence. You need an honest assessment of what is happening on the ground and the need for the President to level with the American people, and you have to be willing to use that force only as a last resort, not on a basis before necessary. We see in this case the President exaggerated the existence of weapons of mass destruction. He has fabricated a relationship between Hussein, al Qaeda and 9/11. He failed to exhaust diplomatic options.

What would have happened if he had allowed those international arms inspectors the extra 3 months they were requesting after their first 2 months found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? He failed to put together a meaningful coalition, as all of us said tonight. Ninety percent of the troops in Iraq, 90 percent of the money is American. And he has failed to commit enough troops. We have got 140,000 brave Americans in Iraq today, but it is not enough to contain this violent, deadly insurgency, and they were sent there with inadequate equipment, as my friend, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Strickland), has been telling us for 15 months during Iraq Watch.

And what confidence do we have that this group of political leaders in the White House and the civilian leaders in the Pentagon will not do this thing again and again and again? They do not seem to understand their mistake. They will not admit their mistakes, and we have got to bring this to the attention of the American people.

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