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Iraq War Resolution

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. KLINE of Minnesota. Mr. Speaker, of course I rise today in strong opposition to this resolution.

It occurs to me, Mr. Hunter, that I need to thank you not only for your service, but for your son's service in the Marine Corps. It is one of those little twists of those things that I served my whole life in the Marine Corps, and my son is serving in the Army. You served in the Army, and your son is serving in the Marine Corps. And I don't know if we will ever untwist this. But I thank you and him for his service.

Mr. Speaker, the proponents of this resolution will have us believe that this resolution supports and protects our military personnel while criticizing the President for changing course.

We have listened to several speakers today who, like me, served in Vietnam and witnessed firsthand the micromanagement of the war from Washington. Ironically, they stand here today endorsing the same incompetent policy of interference. Instead of President Johnson choosing bombing targets, however, we have 535 legislators dictating General Petraeus's reinforcement levels; yes, dictating his tactics. It was wrong in 1967, Mr. Speaker, and it is wrong in 2007.

I notice that the distinguished chairman of the Armed Services Committee has risen several times today to point out his belief that what the President is doing is not a change of strategy, it is a change of tactics. And I would say to my good friend, that great gentleman from Missouri, that if that is right, if this is tactics, then in fact this resolution is trying to do just that, micromanage the tactics of this war.

If congressional micromanagement were the only problem with this resolution, I would still argue vigorously for its defeat. But it is not the only problem. Understanding the purpose and intent of this resolution, its proponents have revealed their true intentions in the course of this debate. They intend for this resolution to be the first step on the path to defunding our troops, withdrawing them, and allowing Iraq to become a chaotic, ungoverned space that will act as a training ground for al Qaeda and the radical jihadists that we are at war with.

Though few in the West knew it, a new war had already begun during my days as commander of Marine aviation forces in Somalia. In the intense battle in the back alleys of Mogadishu that inspired the movie ``Blackhawk Down' and the bombing of vulnerable U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya captured America's attention briefly, but it took an unprecedented attack on our homeland for the country to realize what Islamic extremists had long known: The United States was at war. And I think Mr. Saxton did a very thorough and eloquent job of explaining the length and nature of this war. Every country was now a potential front and every city a battlefield in the enemy's war against Zionist crusaders and nonbelievers. Whether by design or not, Iraq has become the front in not only a physical war of attrition, but in the war of wills between free societies and Islamic jihadists who seek to destroy them.

The proponents of this flawed resolution prefer to ignore reality. They believe that repeating the mistaken belief that Iraq is not a central front in the war against Islamic jihadists will make that perception real. Unfortunately for those who hold this belief, the enemy, our enemy has a say in the matter. Al Qaeda's second in command, al-Zawahiri, in December 2006, made it quite clear where al Qaeda stands. In a video posted on jihadist Web sites, al-Zawahiri sent a clear message: ``The backing of Jihad in Afghanistan and Iraq today is to back the most important battlefields in which the crusade against Islam and Muslims is in progress. And the defeat of the Crusaders there, soon, Allah permitting, will have a far-reaching effect on the future of the Muslim Ummah, Allah willing.'

We have heard repeatedly that al Qaeda and the jihadist terrorists understand that Iraq is the central front in this war against radical Islam. Thankfully, the U.S. military leadership has also recognized this fact.

In his recent testimony before the Senate, General David Petraeus was asked if he believes that Iraq affects the overall war on terror. His response was clear and unequivocal: ``I do, sir.'

Clearly, there are elements of the greater al Qaeda network of international extremists that want something very different than most Iraqis want, and want something very different in that region and in the world.

Many mistakes have been made as our military, unparalleled in conventional strength and maneuver, has changed strategy and tactics to fight the counterinsurgency battle. In response to the frustration at the lack of progress felt by those in Iraq and at home, the American military demonstrated its greatest strength: the ability to adapt to new conditions on the ground and develop new strategy.

To those who have lived and studied the art of military strategy and tactics, the plan we debate this week, developed by American commanders in Iraq and here at home, represents a fundamental shift. In a study updated last week, Anthony Cordesman from the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies, declared that, ``Much of the criticism of the new Bush approach has been unfair. The new strategy is considerably more sophisticated and comprehensive than the details the President could fit into his 20-minute address,' or, I might add, Mr. Speaker, than I can include in this 10-minute address, ``presuming it combines political, military and economic action in ways that do offer a significant hope of success.'

But rather than acknowledge the comprehensive nature of the new Baghdad and al-Anbar security plan, opponents prefer to ignore the pleas of General Petraeus to provide him with the troops necessary to turn the security situation in Iraq's capital city around. Instead, they pat him on the back, wish him ``Godspeed' in his endeavor, and then promptly move to deny him that which he has requested and needs to succeed. As a Vietnam veteran, I cannot in good conscience watch as Congress once again undercuts the morale of those in uniform.

I will not stand idly by and watch others resurrect the ghost of that painful conflict, and we have heard it resurrected many times this day, Mr. Speaker, without acknowledging the slaughter and humanitarian disaster that resulted from the fall of Saigon. And it was a humanitarian disaster. Millions died. Just as in 1974, decisions we make today in this body will have consequences for entire nations and generations to come. History stands ready to judge the wisdom of this body, its ability to learn from past mistakes and its ability to comprehend the ramifications of its actions. In spite of countless warnings, I fear we will come up short in the eyes of posterity.

Opponents call for the administration to heed the advice of its generals, only to reject the commanders' pronouncement when such states are at odds with their own misguided perceptions. They criticize the ``cherry-picking' of prewar intelligence, and then proceed to do just that, while reading the most recent National Intelligence Estimate, choosing to ignore the dire warnings of the Intelligence Community's most authoritative written judgments on national security issues.

But to those who criticize this new security plan and offer no solutions for success, only demands for capitulation, we must demand that they answer a vital question they choose to ignore: What will happen if the Iraqi Government does not succeed and we withdraw prematurely?

One critic of the administration's handling of Iraq, a very vocal critic, and a man who I knew and admired throughout my Marine Corps career, retired General Anthony Zinni, the former commander of Central Command, spelled it out bluntly when he noted that, ``We cannot simply pull out, as much as we may want to. The consequences of a destabilized and chaotic Iraq sitting in the center of a critical region in the world could have catastrophic implications.'

The recent National Intelligence Estimate was even more specific in its analysis. If the United States were to withdraw rapidly, the Iraqi security forces would likely collapse, neighboring countries might intervene openly in the conflict; massive civilian casualties and forced population displacement would be probable; and al Qaeda in Iraq would attempt to use parts of the country to plan increased attacks in and outside of Iraq.

It seems pretty clear to me, Mr. Speaker, what we are debating here is success or failure.

Let us not support that catastrophe. Let us not promote a humanitarian disaster which is almost unimaginable. Let us support success in Iraq. Let us support the new commander in Iraq and give him what he needs to succeed in this mission.


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