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Public Statements

Iraq War Resolution

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

IRAQ WAR RESOLUTION -- (House of Representatives - February 15, 2007)


Mr. HULSHOF. Madam Speaker, on November 19 of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln rose on the platform at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, following a 2-hour oration by Edward Everett, and gave a brief but very eloquent discourse that has become a prominent part of our country's heritage. At the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery he acknowledged, ``The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is, for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.''

Can we find some poignancy today in those simple words uttered 7 score and 4 years ago? What is the unfinished work that confronts this body politic, and more to the point, does this resolution promulgated unilaterally by the majority advance the cause for freedom for which 3,000 of our countrymen have given the last full measure of devotion?

For all of these rhetorical meanderings that have occurred lo these many hours, the responsibility for the current state of affairs in Iraq rests squarely with the majority of Members who serve in this Congress of the United States. Back on December 17, 1998, do you recall House Resolution 612 which declared in pertinent part, ``Resolved, by the House of Representatives that ..... the Congress reaffirms that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power' and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.'''

I note that the gentleman who just spoke, along with 400 other Members of the Congress, supported that resolution as the policy of the United States, and thereafter in October of 2002, Congress, both the House and the Senate, approved the resolution approving the use of force and military action necessary to effectuate that policy of regime change.

Now, deposing the former dictator, in relative terms, was the easy part, yanking him from his hiding place, a hole in the ground. He eventually stood trial in the dock as a common accused, was judged by his countrymen according to the rule of law, and held to account for the brutality of his many crimes.

A second policy objective, promoting a democratic government has been the harder path, but though difficult, is it no less important? As my friend and colleague, my classmate from New Mexico (Mrs. Wilson) so passionately and persuasively annunciated yesterday, America has vital national interests in Iraq.

Does anyone argue the contrary? Can we not all agree that we must deny al Qaeda sanctuary in Iraq? Do we not further agree that Iraq must not be the source of instability in the Middle Eastern region?

Well, if we can agree on these points, can the majority make a legitimate case that this resolution accomplishes either of those important interests? President Bush recently nominated General David Petraeus as the new Commander of Multinational Forces in Iraq. Widely known as a brilliant tactician in the area of counterinsurgency, General Petraeus was unanimously confirmed by the other body.

Today, however, the majority desires to deny this extremely capable commander the means to accomplish his objective. Isn't it incumbent upon us, as Lincoln urged, to remain dedicated to the task remaining before us? Haven't many in this body expressed frustration that the Iraqi Government has put limitations on the rules of engagement of our troops in our field, not allowing our military to hunt down the enemy because insurgents had escaped to a safe haven in a region deemed off-limits by the Iraqi Government?

Well, isn't the majority party doing exactly the same thing half a world away with this resolution? Isn't denying military additional reinforcements deemed necessary by our generals in the field hampering our last best chance for success?

Two nights ago I was moved by the quiet eloquence of the distinguished gentleman from New York (Mr. McHugh) when he made the simple yet ironic observation: At no time in our Nation's history has this House considered a public rebuke of a sitting Commander in Chief for the manner in which a war has been conducted that Congress itself has authorized.

On that score alone, I find this resolution breathtaking in its audacity. If I may be allowed to paraphrase the Great Emancipator, it is true, the world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but the world will never forget what we do here.

I urge rejection of this resolution.


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