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Public Statements

Foreign Affairs

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 5, 2011, the Chair recognizes the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Burton) for the remainder of the hour as the designee of the majority leader.

Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Madam Speaker, I have been in this Congress for a long, long time, and I have been frustrated a lot. I think maybe I have learned a little bit. For any of my colleagues who are in their offices watching on television, I thought I would make a few comments about some of the things that I hope that they will take as a little bit of a lesson for them down the road.

I have been on the Foreign Affairs Committee for 30 years, and the first thing I have learned is you can't make the world over in our image no matter how hard we try. There are different cultures, different people, different religions, tribal, all kinds of things.

When we go into another part of the world and try to make them like us, we cause a lot of problems, we cost a lot of lives, and we lose a lot of money. We should always realize, in the back of our minds, that we should do what's in the interest of the United States of America first, last, and always and not try to make the world look like us.

The second thing that I think my colleagues, I hope they realize is that we're going to have to work with some pretty unsavory persons sometimes.

Muammar Qadhafi was a terrible, terrible tyrant in Libya. When Ronald Reagan had to deal with him after he bombed a nightclub that killed a lot of Americans in Germany, Ronald Reagan flew the planes over and bombed Qadhafi, and Qadhafi wasn't a problem any more. A lot of people were killed, he was almost killed, and he realized that terrorism from his country was not going to stand.

Qadhafi was not a problem for the United States from then on. Now, he was a problem in his country. He killed a lot of people, and there might have been some more carnage, but it was in his country.

Because of that, we went into Libya, spent billions of dollars of our money. We drove him out of office and had him killed. Now there's chaos over there, and they killed our Ambassador. They tortured him, I understand--I won't go into details, but it was pretty bad. They killed three other people, they burned our flag, and the place is in chaos.

What did we get when we got rid of Qadhafi? He was a bad guy. He was terrible to his own people. But what we have now is a complete chaotic situation in that part of Africa. The same thing is true in Tunisia. Then, of course, our President went over to Egypt, and he gave a speech talking about how we had to all get along, and how there ought to be democracy in Egypt.

Now, Mubarak, who was the dictator over there, was a bad guy; but he had lived up to what we call the Camp David accords. The United States and Egypt worked together to make sure there was peace in the Middle East, and there wasn't any war going on involving Israel or anything else.

But we led the fight to get rid of Mubarak. We did it, along with some help, and now Mubarak is gone and we have the Muslim Brotherhood. A lot of people don't know much about the Muslim Brotherhood, but they have been judged a terrorist organization in the past. I was told, and everybody else was told, when the Muslim Brotherhood left that there was going to be democracy, freedom, and human rights in Egypt. We had 78 Coptic Christians just murdered recently.

As you know, they came over, and a mob--and it was planned, everybody knows about it--it wasn't because of that movie. They came over, and they scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy, they burned the American flag, and they ran around waving the radical Muslim flag. They touted their radical leaders as the future leaders of that area. Osama bin Laden, they were carrying his picture around saying, we support Osama bin Laden.

Now, this is a country that we just gave $1.5 billion to, our money. The reason we gave them that money is because we've been paying them for years and years to make sure that they lived with the Camp David Peace Accords, which meant that there would be peace between Egypt and Israel and throughout the Middle East. Mubarak is gone, the Muslim Brotherhood's in charge, and there's chaos in Egypt, and the entire Middle East is threatened further.

When you look across the northern tier of Africa, I hope my colleagues will realize, we've tried to create governments that agree with us and look like us and that will be tokens of the United States of America. Instead of leaving them alone, we have helped create chaos.

Now, I just got back from the Persian Gulf recently. I was in Bahrain, and Bahrain is a friend of ours. We have the Fifth Fleet there, which patrols the entire Persian Gulf, protecting those waterways, and we get about 35 percent of our energy from that part of the world.

Iran is sending people into that country to undermine that government and stir up the people. It's the same thing that happened in Libya, the same thing happened in Egypt, and now it's happening in the Persian Gulf states. We get a third of our energy from there. If we don't get that energy, if we don't become energy independent, we are going to have the lights off one of these days, and we're going to be paying about $5 or $6, $7, $8 a gallon for gasoline. It will hurt the entire economy.

Now, this isn't baloney; this is fact. The radicals are working that entire region to take over, and we're trying to help these radicals or have helped these radicals or have helped these radicals in a number of countries, and now we've got a real chaotic mess on our hands.

Yesterday, my colleagues overwhelmingly passed a continuing resolution. Most people don't know what that is, but it's a spending bill that takes us from now until March of next year. I came down to the floor when the discussion was going on the recommittal motion, and I said, tell me, is any of that money going to Libya or Egypt? Nobody would answer me. I can tell you right now

additional monies are going to go to Libya, additional money is going to go to Egypt, and both of those countries are not friends of the United States.

A gentlewoman from Congress told me yesterday she was in Egypt not long ago, and she talked to one of the members of the Muslim Brotherhood. She said, What are the goals that you have? He said, Our goal is the Muslim Brotherhood is to have the al Qaeda flag, the Muslim Brotherhood flag, fly over the White House in the United States.

He may have been exaggerating a little, but if you look at what the Muslim Brotherhood has said just recently, and their new president, they said they weren't going to involve themselves so deeply in government over there. They took over the legislative branch, they have taken over the presidency. Their president recently said he wanted to model their government after Iran.

Egypt is the biggest country in the Middle East, but we went in there. Our President went in there and gave a speech. We said we wanted to change that and get rid of the dictator, Mubarak, who was not a good guy. At least he supported the Camp David Peace Accords, which Jimmy Carter worked on, all the way up to now, and now we've got a chaotic situation over there. We can't make the world over in our image.

We should not try to nation-build. You know, I supported it. I supported our efforts when we went into Iraq because I thought we had to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and I thought we had to stop the movement of radical Islam in its tracks. I thought democracy would be a good thing there.

If you look at what's happened, the democracy there is, although it's a fledgling democracy, is very rocky, and they are very close to Iran. They have met with the Iranian leaders, Ahmadinejad, and so this nation-building we did in Iraq right now I think is still tenuous.

I'm not sure it's going to work out. And we spent billions and billions and
maybe trillions of dollars over there and lost a lot of lives. And then in Afghanistan. And I support going after the Taliban. I think we ought to get rid of those guys. We ought to stop the terrorists. It's extremely important. But the one thing that I think that's very important when we go after these guys is we make absolutely sure that we're going to get them and we're going to win. And the problem we had with Afghanistan after losing all these lives and costing all this money is that we're going to pull out in about a year and a half, and, in my opinion, that whole area is going to be again in a state of turmoil and we will have spent billions of dollars, our treasure, and a lot of lives, and it will still not be stabilized. And I think that's really unfortunate because of the problems that we thought we were going to solve by going in there.
One of the things that bothers me is every time we have a war, we think we can have a war that's antiseptic. That we're not going to kill any civilians. You can go in and attack an area and kill the Taliban or al Qaeda, and you have to be real careful that you don't damage or kill civilians. And as a result, al Qaeda and the Taliban, they hide behind civilians. They go into schools and churches and they go into hospitals because they know that they can't be attacked unless we go in and there are innocent lives lost.

We've faced the same thing in World War II. And people don't remember this, but we had to do things to win that war to stop Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo that we would never want to do. We firebombed Dresden, Germany. We firebombed Berlin. We dropped nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We killed millions of innocent human beings. But that was the horrible cost of war.

Now, today, with the television and the Internet and everything else, we go to war and the next day you see somebody that's injured, a woman, a child, and they say, This is horrible. We can't conduct this war. So our military is handcuffed. They say that they can't go in and go after these guys in certain areas because of the potential civilian casualties. And you can't run a war like that. You either go in to win or you don't go in at all. And we should not risk American lives and treasure unless we're going in to win.

That's why when I think back on Iraq, I think that maybe we should have gone in and beat the hell out of Saddam Hussein, let them know that we weren't going to put up with that, and then pulled out and say, Hey, you've got a country, you run it properly. But if you conduct yourself in the way you did before, we'll be back. It would have scared Iran to death. It would have scared the Taliban to death. But instead, we went in there to nation build. And 10, 12 years later we face much of the same thing that we faced back then.

The other thing I think that's important for Congress to do--and we don't do it--is when the administration, I don't care whether it's a Democrat or Republican administration, when they make a mistake, we in the Congress must speak out. We must not just go along with the administration, whoever it is, because we want to keep a good relationship with them. Our responsibility as Congress is to make sure that the Government of the United States doesn't go awry. And I've seen time and time again in the years I've been here where Presidents have made a mistake and we stay here and we're strangely silent.

We have to speak up. We have to let the American people know when mistakes are made and that we have to correct them. And we must not let unelected bureaucrats decide all of our foreign policy. We have people at the State Department, people in our government, people who are unelected who make decisions that really lead us in the wrong direction. And I speak, again, for the administration and the State Department when I talk about Libya. We went in there and what did we get? We got rid of Qadhafi. Now there's chaos. Now they're attacking our embassy and burning our flag and waving around al Qaeda flags and talking about how the world will be better off if all the Muslim radicals are in charge.

The same thing is true in Egypt. We went in and got rid of Mubarak. And what did we get? We got the Muslim Brotherhood, a radical Muslim fundamentalist group that wants to destroy the freedoms that we believe in, not to mention our best ally in the entire region, Israel. And Israel is the only place over there that we can count on if everything goes wrong. And so our State Department and the administration and previous administrations have made these kinds of mistakes, and we've been strangely, strangely silent.

So I would just like to end up by saying to my colleagues we should profit from our past mistakes. We should make sure that we don't try to nation build. We can't make the world over in our image. It's not possible. We have to work with unsavory leaders sometimes, people that we don't like, that we don't think are good people, because of stability in the region and because of America's interests. Our interests ought to be number one.

The protection of our country ought to be number one. The protection of our soldiers and the people who go to war and the people of this country ought to be number one. And of secondary importance are the lives of these people in these countries that are radical. But we haven't been doing that. But that ought to be our number one goal, the United States, first, last, and always. And we should not turn over to unelected bureaucrats the control of our foreign policy. We should listen to them. We should have our ambassadors over there. We should have good people over there like the ambassador that just lost his life. But the final decisions ought to be brought before the committees of the Congress, and we ought to discuss them and we ought to participate in the decisionmaking process with the Commander in Chief and not let unelected leaders, bureaucrats make those decisions.

Finally, we must remember we should never go to war unless we realize the cost that is going to be involved. You cannot win an antiseptic war. You can have a tenuous peace. We had that in Korea. We still have a potential war over there in the 38th parallel. We didn't go in, and we didn't win it, so now we have the Communists up north and the freedom-loving people down south. We went into North Africa, into Somalia, and we tried to nation build there. And we had to pull out because you couldn't get it done. We've gone all over the place and tried to nation build, and we've gone all over the world and tried to make the world over in our image, and we've gone all over the world and tried to fight antiseptic wars, and they just don't work.

If you're going to fight a war, you have to go in and win it and then leave and do what is right for America. You can't stay there for 8, 10, 12 years and try to nation build. Because ultimately you lose a lot of life, you spend our treasure, and you don't get the job done. And I'm a conservative. I'm one of those guys that is one of the strongest supporters of the military in the entire Congress, and I'm one of those people they call a hawk and one of those people that says: Get the bad guys, wherever they are.

But I've learned over the past 30 years that you have to do certain things if you're going to make America great and survive as a Nation. And those things are very important. You can't make the world over in our image. You have to work with some leaders in other parts of the world that are not savory people because of our interests and our stability. You can't spend our money and our treasure and the lives of Americans without going in to win. And you can't fight an antiseptic war.

If we go in, and we go in to win, we're going to have to take some innocent lives. And it's a tragic thing. But that's the way that war is. And the reason Dwight Eisenhower and the American forces were so great and so successful in World War II in Europe and in Japan was because we went in and we did what had to be done to win. And if we hadn't done that, we might all be speaking German today.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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