THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM
Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I am going to be joined by some of our colleagues tonight as we begin our discussion in this great body, in this great House talking about the war on terrorism and the global war that we face.
Mr. Speaker, before I began that discussion with my colleagues, I want to take just a few moments and address some of the statements that the minority made during their hour that preceded this. They have talked a lot about spending, and they have talked a good bit about their dissatisfaction with spending.
One of the things that I would like to remind the Members of this body and those that are watching this debate tonight is that much of that spending takes place because of the bureaucracy that has been built in this Congress over the past 50 years.
Now, you go back and you look at what transpired in the 1960s and the way the bureaucracies grew, and the way programs grew. You see all around here that this bureaucracy has been built as a monument to many of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. They have put their energy into that. They have put that into growing this government here in Washington. Many of them believe that the government here in Washington knows better than the folks back home. I disagree with that.
I would encourage our colleagues to join with us as we work on waste, fraud and abuse, as we work toward reducing the size of this government. When we passed the Deficit Reduction Act that would have made nearly 1 percent across the board cut, they chose not to cast a vote in favor of that.
But they do enjoy coming and talking about how wonderful they feel it would be to have a debt-free America and a balanced budget, and, yes, that is something we would like to do, but we don't want that budget to be balanced by raising taxes. We want that budget to be balanced by reducing spending. That is a big part of our focus as we continue to work.
Soon we are going to have a spring cleaning week where we are going to talk about 150 of these different agencies that absolutely need to go through a house cleaning. They need to reduce their size. They need to get their priorities in order, and bureaucrats that are in these buildings need to start responding to the citizens of this great Nation. They should be held accountable, and we are going to press forward on that issue.
One of my colleagues also made a comment about economic growth, and I would invite our Members to look at the economic stats from 1995 and the economic stats from 2005. If you compare those 2 years, what happened in the economy in 1995 during the Clinton years and what has happened in 2005 during the Bush years? What you are going to see is on every single economic indicator, whether you are talking GDP, unemployment rates, economic growth, homeownership, every single indicator, the 2005 economy beats the 1995 economy on every single point.
I would commend that to individuals that are watching tonight, to be certain that they look at those facts, that they look at those statistics and add those numbers.
It was also mentioned on the floor tonight what type of America do you believe in? I always love it when I hear that type of comment. What type of America do you believe in? I think the colleagues that join me here tonight would join me in saying we believe in an America that is strong. We believe in an America that is free. We believe in an America that is compassionate and caring and wants the best, the very best, for all of our citizens. We believe in an America where children can dream big dreams, where they can grow up happy and free and educated and watch those dreams become reality, where they can take hold of their best efforts and say you know what, we are going to make this even better.
We are going to make it better. We really believe in an America that is focused on hope and not focused on fear. We believe in an America that is strong on individual freedom that understands the importance of freedom for being able to freely live, to freely think, to freely work. We know that that requires that we have a secure homeland, and that is why this majority has been focused on our security agenda, being certain that we look at the moral security of this great Nation, the retirement security, the economic security and, of course, the national security of this wonderful free land that is a beacon of democracy to every single nation on the face of the earth.
You know, when you talk about what kind of America you believe in, I love it sometimes when we are visiting with our troops in war-torn areas, and you meet somebody, and they walk up to you, and they say, you are an American. You are an American? You are an American.
There is a certain awe that comes out of their mouth when they look at us and they know we are what they would like to be. We have got something they want. That is something that we have got that they want, that other nations want, is freedom. It is the chance to do and to be and to have your children do and be all that they would hope to be.
That is why the majority is going to take this entire week and we are going to have a discussion with the American people. We are going to bring forth our hopes. We are going to bring forth our thoughts of what is happening in this war on terrorism. We are going to talk about the progress we have made. We are also going to talk about the areas where we want to improve.
Mr. Speaker, we are going to talk about the big picture. We are going to hold a debate on the Republican and the Democrat approaches to winning the war on terror. We are going to compare, and we are going to contrast the different philosophies that each party has toward the war on terrorism. Our military's elimination of al-Qaeda's top leader in Iraq is an auspicious start to this debate. That success should make it clear that winning takes patience, and it takes perseverance. But things that are worth fighting for and things that are worth working for are items that are worth waiting for because we don't live in a world of instant gratification where everything is decided within 30 minutes. Some things take time to do them right.
History has taught us, history has taught us that it is important that when we look at democracy, when we look at working with other Nations that we get this right. It also takes excellent work by our military and our intelligence folks, and God bless them all. God bless them all.
I am especially grateful for our troops from Fort Campbell from the 101st who are in Iraq now and are certainly working diligently on this effort. Many of our National Guardsmen are there, and they are working as well.
I am very grateful to them and to their families.
Last week, we got to see part of the big picture in the war on terrorism more quickly with Zarqawi's death, with the destruction of a major leader in the global terrorist network. The big picture is the U.S. chasing these people down and eliminating them.
It is helping free nations, Mr. Speaker, free nations develop and throw off the shackles of terrorism in the Middle East. This, Mr. Speaker, will be our topic and our discussion for the week.
At this time, I would like to yield to the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King) who is so focused on protecting this great Nation and our Nation's security.
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Iowa, and I am so appreciative that he mentioned that this is not a sometime enemy that we are dealing with. This is an enemy, as he said, that is amorphous. They are located everywhere. Terrorist cells are around the globe, but it is an enemy with an agenda. Their agenda is to end freedom as we know it, and they work at it 24/7. They are an enemy to freedom, and we do know that the Iraqi people are grasping at their chance for freedom.
You know, Mr. Speaker, I think it is really quite important to note that a development that got swamped by the Zarqawi news, but a development that I certainly believe is very critical to our long-term security goals, was that the Iraqi Government's confirmation of its top three security chiefs was last week. You had Sunnis and Shiites standing together as the security chiefs for this nation.
What an enormous step in the right direction, and we have now had tremendously successful elections in Iraq. We have a unified government. We now have 275,000 Iraqi security forces that are in place.
So we do know that we are seeing progress in the right direction. There are no guarantees, but it is steps in the right direction.
At this time, I want to yield to the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Carter, who has Fort Hood in his district. Judge Carter has worked so diligently with our men and women in uniform, and I thank him for coming to talk a little bit about the big picture, about the global war on terror, and why it is imperative that we persevere. And I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate so much how well the gentleman represents his constituents at Fort Hood, and I know he is so very proud of them and the work that they do.
I, likewise, am so very proud of my men and women at Fort Campbell, men and women of the 101st, there in Montgomery County, Tennessee.
How appropriate that the gentleman from Texas referred to them as heroes, because indeed they are. And as they work to gather in the trust and confidence of the Iraqi people, the trust of a little girl who brings the rose from her garden to one of our military men and women, the trust of an Iraqi citizen who takes the key out of a lock of one of Saddam Hussein's former jails and hands it to an American soldier and says, ``Thank you, thank you for my chance at freedom.''
Mr. Speaker, those are the stories that we are hearing day in and day out. They are coming to us from our men and women in uniform who do understand the big picture, who do understand that we have an enemy that would like to change our way of life.
It is imperative that we communicate that message that we are not going to stand for that. We are not going to stand still and let that happen. You know, I think it is really quite interesting that sometimes the liberal elites try to couch this debate about Iraq as to whether it was wrong or whether it was right to go in and free millions of people from Saddam Hussein, whether it was worth it. Many of the leftists think it was not worth it. They would like to just sit down and talk about this. I believe we should put that question aside for a moment because it really does simplify the question of our involvement in Iraq. It oversimplifies it. The question ignores the relevance of Iraq to America's national security framework.
You know, as the gentleman from Texas said, our daily lives, how we go about them, when we are made more unsafe, when our national security is made unsafe by the existence of a hostile and isolated Middle East ruled by murderous thugs and their terrorist supporters, then we have to do something about that. That is a fact. I challenge anybody to come in and argue with that.
The truth of this fact is written in the blood of Americans and the citizens of dozens of other free nations, the people who have been murdered by terrorists, spawned in the Middle East over the past 40 years. Whether anyone believes we should be in Iraq for the sake of freeing an oppressed people is something we could haggle about all night, but it is not the point of our mission there. We should be in Afghanistan, Iraq and in the Middle East actively working to put an end once and for all to the systems of government that have promoted and celebrated brutal attacks on America, on Europe, and in countries across Africa.
If we do not, we are going to suffer again and again. We are in Iraq, we are in Afghanistan because President Bush and the American people decided on September 11, 2001, that enough was enough. Could we have stayed out? Of course. Could we have continued responding to terrorism as a case of civil disobedience? Of course.
We could have decided to simply contain this region and hope to contain the terrorism that grew there, but that did not get to the root of the problem. And the price of that policy would have continued to be periodic September 11s. That would be the price. This country had to decide whether we were willing to pay this steep price of letting the Middle East continue for another 30 years as it had for the past 30 years.
We have had a real champion of freedom join us in the U.S. House of Representatives this year, another judge from the great State of Texas; and at this time I want to yield to Judge POE from the great State of Texas.
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas. I thank him for mentioning that our men and women in uniform are volunteers and they have chosen to fight.
I, like him, have spent time with these men and women and their families and on Memorial Day talked with the aunt of a young man who came to one of the memorial services. And after I spoke, she came up and with her broken heart she said, Mrs. Blackburn, you're so right, he was there because he wanted to be there and you're so right. He knows, he knew that we were winning, that we are winning the war on terror.
And yes indeed, he understood the mission. Our families, our military families know this, Mr. Speaker, and they know that this Nation has decided not to play hostage, not to be held hostage. Our men and women in uniform are paying the price to fight this war so that we are not having to fight it on the streets of Washington, D.C., or Memphis or Nashville or L.A. or anywhere else in this country. We have made a choice not to be bullied and not to live with the gun pointed at our head. And I give credit to our President. And, Mr. Speaker, I credit the American people for making a tough decision. War is never easy. War is never, ever easy, but we have to remember the big picture in this and that picture is we have to have a democratic ally in the Middle East. This is about freedom and free people. It is about expanded democracy and education. It is about rooting out terrorists and disrupting their networks and their way of working and their beliefs so that they don't import it and place it on us. It is about slowing them down and eventually making it impossible for them to work.
Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of talk about whether we are winning or not. And we are winning. But this is not easy. There are going to be a lot of dark days ahead. This is not an easy fight. It is not easy for us. It is not easy for our military men and women and their families. It is not easy for the Iraqi people. And there is a tremendous amount of frustration when they take a couple of steps forward and then a few steps back and a couple of steps forward and another step back. And just as in the past 3 years we have had some victories to celebrate, we have also had some very tough times. But we come to the point of saying, is it a necessary action? And yes, indeed, Mr. Speaker, it is a necessary action. The defense of freedom is a necessary action for our great Nation. It was the only decision that put America on the offensive when it came to the war on terrorism and our national security because freedom is worth fighting for.
As I close the hour this evening and begin this week's debate, I want to focus where I began in talking about the big picture. Ronald Reagan often said, we could bet on hope or we could bet on fear. You can bet on hope or you can bet on fear. He chose to bet on hope. And, Mr. Speaker, I know why. And I know why the American people choose to bet on hope. It is that hope, that desire that lives in our heart for a better tomorrow.
I love quoting Margaret Thatcher and her comment when she talks about America. She would say it is more than a superpower, more than a great Nation. America is an idea. America is an idea. What a great idea it is. It is the idea of freedom. It is the idea of opportunity. It is the idea of hope. And this week we look forward to talking about hope for our future, hope for the future of our children, hope for the future of the Nation of Iraq.