IRAQI ELECTIONS -- (House of Representatives - February 01, 2005)
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I want to say thank you so much to the gentleman from Georgia for taking the time to bring this issue not only to the Members of this body, but to the American people. Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank the gentleman from Georgia for taking the time to bring this incredible photograph to the floor and let us continue to just feast our eyes on the contentment and the joy that is expressed in this Iraqi woman's face as she has dipped her finger in that blue ink which has become the indelible mark of freedom, which shows the world that she, as a free woman, has exercised her right to vote. I thank the gentleman for that.
Because we watched this take place, and what an incredible display it was as we saw the Iraqi people stand and fight back terrorism and to rejoice in the work that they have done. The entire nation rejoiced. Our military men and women rejoiced with them, and I think the entire world has gathered to offer praise and congratulations.
At the same time, it was amazing as this took place to listen to some of the liberal leaders in Washington and around and about talk about how important it was to not overhype these first elections. The gentleman from Utah provided some wonderful perspective to that.
Mr. Speaker, I can understand why those on the left and some of those that have harangued the President for months would start to feel as if they are feeling some political heat because, indeed, I think they are. They were wrong. They were wrong. They had too little faith in America, they had too little faith in our military men and women, and they had too little faith in the Iraqi people and the power and the desire for freedom and what that would do in their country.
Some of those liberals like to say that Iraq was out of control and that the terrorists would destroy the election, and America was losing and that we should postpone the elections. Certainly, some like Senator Kennedy even called for an almost immediate withdrawal of American forces. They wanted us to tell the world that the United States did not have the strength and the determination to defeat terrorism, and they were wrong in every instance. This President stood tall. Our Armed Forces did not waiver. The American people refused to yield to tyrants and terrorists, and we watched the Iraqi people refuse to yield to tyrants and terrorists and the pressures.
Today we know that our President was right. Despite all the doom and gloom and despite the constant focus on every single failure that could have possibly taken place in Iraq, despite seeing those "two steps forward and one step back" as we marched towards success, we somehow managed to hold safe and orderly elections in Iraq. And I think that tells us all something. It tells me that the national media had already decided in their minds that Iraq was not going like it ought to go, and they reported everything and anything that they thought could make it look like it was going to be hopeless. They ignored every little single shining success. They thought that they could ignore it. They ignored progress and heroism and they had their version of what they thought they wanted Iraq to be. They were against the war, and they manipulated coverage to suit their personal views.
Thankfully, the American people did not believe that national media. They stuck with the President, and today the Iraqi people are seeing what freedom means. Today we know that America has struck a demoralizing blow against terrorism. We are taking valuable territory from the terrorists. They no longer have an assured safe haven in either Afghanistan or Iraq.
Pakistan is working with us to track terrorists. Libya has even begun seeking diplomatic relations with the United States.
Mr. Speaker, over the past 2 years I have had the opportunity to be in Iraq and to make friends with some folks in Iraq, and it is amazing. We have had some of these women come here to America as we have been there to visit with them. Some of these I e-mail with frequently, and we have shared our vision for what an alliance can be between our nations. Other Members of this body have joined in working with some of these folks. It has been absolutely extraordinary. It would have been unthinkable 4 years ago, and this is how we are going to win the war on terrorism, is building these relationships.
In the hours just after the election, I received several e-mail messages from some of my Iraqi friends, one in particular from an Iraqi woman who ran for Congress, and I would like for you all to just listen to this for a moment.
It says, "Dear American Friends, a warm hug of appreciation from Iraq to the good hearts in the United States. Congratulations for us and for you on Iraqi Elections Day.
"Today we are not only free but we have stood united in democracy. Today we marked our history with bright words of Winning the War Against Terror Against Dictatorship. Today we won our identity in front of a watching world. Today Iraq is for us and we are for Iraq, while yesterday Iraq was Saddam and Saddam was Iraq.
"Today Iraq is for all: Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Turkomans and many others, while yesterday we were all looking for a home of dignity, humanity and peace.
"After all this, just tell me how can I say thank you. Thank you for every spirit you have given from families and friends to Iraq. Thank you for every minute you contributed from your life to Iraq. Thank you for every word of support, for every courage moment. Thank you for every aid, every project, every rebuild. Thank you for being the best friend Iraq ever had. Thank you on behalf of or tortured men and women in the prisons of Saddam.
"Thank you on behalf of all Iraqi innocents who have given their lives for the freedom price. Thank you on behalf of next generation of love and peace in the Middle East. Thank you and a warm hug from Iraq to the brave hearts in America."
Mr. Speaker, that message is for all of us. It is for our country, it is for our President, and it is an absolutely beautiful thing. I know some of those across the aisle will continue to criticize our every move in Iraq; and, sadly, much of that criticism comes from the powerful leaders of the left. But to my colleagues across the aisle who know better, speak up, challenge your leadership, work with us in Iraq rather than against us.
To our allies in Iraq, America says a hearty congratulations. We are ready to stand by your side as you rebuild. We will not cut and run. America looks forward to your help as an ally in the war on terror.
Mr. Speaker, God bless our active duty, our Reserve and our National Guard men and women as they work to protect us all over the world tonight.
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