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Pakistan War Powers Resolution

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PAUL. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

First off, I would like to address the subject about hostilities. It is true that there are no armies facing each other and shooting and killing each other, no tanks, no conventional type of hostilities. We don't live in a conventional era and we don't fight conventional wars, but there is a lot of hostile action going on.

In looking and checking to find out if anybody has been killed, in the reports that I found, anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 Pakistanis have been killed. Now, that sounds like it's rather hostile. And that comes not from our invasion in troop, but we've invaded them with our predators, with our drone missiles, and we drop bombs and we aim at targets, always at the bad people. But to the best of my knowledge from the information I get is that 14 al Qaeda leaders have been killed, and the rest have been civilians. And who knows exactly what their sentiments would be. Maybe a lot of them were defending their own country. Maybe they don't like foreign occupiers. But there is a lot of hostile action going on and a lot of people are dying.

The gentleman from Ohio is quite correct. If you check with the people of Pakistan, they don't want us there. They don't want bombs dropped on them. How would we react in this country if all of a sudden there was a drone missile that landed on one of our cities and even one or two or three Americans were killed? We would be outraged and we would want to know about it. And here we do it constantly.

I complain that we don't know enough about it and we give up our prerogatives. We allow the Presidents to do what they want and then we just capitulate and give them the money and do whatever. But I argue we don't know enough. We don't assume our responsibility. The American people don't know about it until we get deep into these quagmires and into these mes

But what about in Pakistan? There is a lot of conniving going on there because I am sure their leaders are quite satisfied with us going in there because we bribe them. The Congress just recently passed a bill that promises them $7.5 billion. That's how they stay in power, and it's also how they can help the Taliban who's fighting us.

The whole thing is such a mess, but the people, if you ask the people of Pakistan, they're not going to support this. And the argument is that we have to support this because our generals want us to, because this is our mission. Well, what is our mission? Our mission ought to be to defend this country, preserve liberty, and show people what a free society looks like. We shouldn't be trying to tell other people how to live with bombs and threats. We give them two options: We tell them do it our way, and if they do, we give them a lot of money. If they don't do it our way, we start bombing them. But we don't achieve anything. That's my contention. We just go on and on.

My big beef is with the overall policy. I know we're talking about the technicalities and we're talking about Afghanistan and Pakistan, but we don't solve any of these technical problems until we deal with the subject of what kind of a foreign policy we endorse. Are we supposed to be the policemen of the world? Are we supposed to be in nation building? Are we supposed to bankrupt our people? Are we supposed to support the infrastructure of others, building all around the world and neglect all of ours? It's coming to an end because this country is bankrupt, and we're going to have to change our policy whether we like it or not.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased to yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from California (Mr. McKeon), the ranking member on the Committee on Armed Services.

Mr. McKEON. I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to this resolution and I am pleased to join my colleagues on the Foreign Affairs and the Armed Services Committees who are opposed to this ill-timed and ill-conceived measure. I am disappointed that the House Democratic leadership would allow this resolution to come to the floor for a vote at this time.

In April 2009, the President released his strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan and began to make the case to the American people that security and stability in the region are vital to the U.S. national security interests. I support this strategy.

In Pakistan, instability and violence have reached new highs with the insurgency moving eastward toward the capital of Islamabad and bombings and suicide attacks on the rise. This fight not only affects the people of Pakistan but our security, too. Moreover, Pakistan is an essential partner to the United States, both in the near and the long term, and we must remain committed to building trust between our two nations.

It remains in our national interest to defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies and to ensure they will have no safe havens from which to attack the American people. In Pakistan, the government and people are increasingly seeing the insurgency operating from the tribal border areas as the most existential threat to their country.

Despite Pakistan's increased military operations, the scale, nature, and frequency of violence in Pakistan makes it a nation more appropriately comparable to a combat zone, such as that found in Afghanistan, and it should be treated as such rather than as a central European country seeking foreign military financing.

That is why our military partnership with Pakistan is essential. There are approximately 230 U.S. military personnel in Pakistan--all assigned to the Office of the Defense Representative to Pakistan. This small contingent is in Pakistan at the invitation of the Government of Pakistan to support security assistance programs and training to deepen our cooperative relationship with Pakistan.

Let me be clear. This is not a combat mission but a train and equip role for the U.S. trainers in Pakistan. These trainers were selected based on the requirements established by the Government of Pakistan. These programs are key to Pakistan's counterinsurgency operations--training which Pakistan needs to defeat al Qaeda and Taliban forces operating within their borders.

Representative Kucinich's resolution, if enacted into law, would mandate the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Pakistan by the end of 2010. Why consider this resolution now? Why second-guess the Commander in Chief and his commanders without giving the military a chance to implement the strategy?

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I want to send a clear message to our military men and women:

This Congress believes in you. We support you, and we honor your dedication.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no.''

Mr. KUCINICH. I want to thank my colleague for his support for the troops because we both support the troops. The question is that some of us believe that the best way to support the troops is to bring them home.

I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Ellison).

Mr. ELLISON. Let me thank the gentleman for bringing this resolution.

Mr. Speaker, let there never be another war, military conflict, or armed hostilities involving U.S. military personnel that are not openly debated, expressly authorized and consented to, and scrupulously overseen by this Congress.

We are the Congress. It is our job to do our constitutional duty. It is not second-guessing. It is oversight. It is engaging in the process of governance. There is nowhere in the Constitution that says that the President just gets to go fight wars without the oversight of the Congress. It is not unpatriotic. It is not being a poor citizen. It is our constitutional duty, if you are going to commit troops, to know why, when and how, and there are provisions in the Constitution and in the War Powers Act to make sure that Congress has the ability to exercise its constitutional responsibility. We can't shirk these duties constitutionally, not under the War Powers Act or anything else.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. KUCINICH. I yield the gentleman an additional 1 minute.

Mr. ELLISON. We are in Pakistan. We are there with troops on the ground, apparently, and we are there in unmanned aerial vehicles. We have to exercise our responsibility. We cannot escape what history has assigned to us. We can't turn a blind eye when we know troops are there and engaged. It is not responsible. It is not right.

The Pakistani public opinion is at an all-time low with regard to the United States. Why? We hardly know because we haven't dealt with this engagement in a forthright manner.

Vote ``yes.''

Mr. BERMAN. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I want to just, if I might, Mr. Speaker, respond to my friend from California who is in my neighboring district, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. He made a reference to House leadership. He couldn't understand why it was setting this for debate.

Firstly, this is a privileged resolution pursuant to the War Powers Act. That's why it is being set for debate. It is a privileged resolution. It is not up to the leadership whether or not to debate this issue unless we change the statute.

Secondly, while I disagree with my friend from Ohio about whether the requisite requirements of the War Powers Act are met--because my conclusion is we are not engaged in hostilities as that term is used in the War Powers Act--I do want to say I don't understand, when seeking oversight, when making sure that taxpayers' funds are well spent, that our troops are protected and are being well served, and that our interests are being pursued by a particular operation, why the debate of that on the House floor is evidence of not supporting the troops.

To the contrary, had we had more debate on the House floor over the past 10 years, perhaps $8 billion in military assistance to Iraq, which was lost and can't be accounted for, might not have happened.

I know one thing. Perhaps we wouldn't have given the military leader of Pakistan free rein to cut deals with Talibani groups, appeasement agreements, in various parts of Pakistan during the period prior to his removal from office. Perhaps we would have a greater sense--and here we do have a greater sense--of knowledge of where our defense aid is going and what our military assistance is being used for than ever before, in large part, thanks to the oversight responsibilities of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. These are useful processes. They are much better than simply providing the money and then turning away until it is all over.

I commend the gentleman for using what, I think, is the wrong vehicle but the appropriate subject of having an open discussion about the wisdom of what we are doing. I think that serves our forces. I think it serves our country.

I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Speaker, I would like to inquire as to how much time each side has remaining.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Yarmuth). The gentleman from Ohio has 17 minutes remaining. The gentleman from California has 7 minutes remaining. The gentlewoman from Florida has 7 minutes remaining.

Mr. KUCINICH. I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Paul).

Mr. PAUL. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk a little bit more about our policy because, as I said before, I think it is the policy that gets us into these predicaments and that, if you deal with this as a strictly technical/tactical problem that we have to face in how to rectify our problems, I don't think it will occur. I think we have to deal in the overall policy.

In many ways, we follow a schizophrenic type of foreign policy because, one time, they are our best friends, then later on they become our worst enemies. This was true with Saddam Hussein. In the 1980s, he was our friend. We took care of him. We encouraged him and supported his war. Then of course that changed. Even right before 9/11, the Taliban were still receiving money from us, and now they receive money from us indirectly. The Taliban gets money from the Pakistanis, or at least information as has been reported, but they literally get some of our money in the process because, in order for us to move equipment through Afghanistan, they literally end up getting American dollars from doing this.

So here we are going into Pakistan. One of the arguments to go into Pakistan is that we have to go after the Taliban--that they are over there, that they are organizing and that they want to kill the American soldiers in Afghanistan. This means that now they are our archenemies. Yet the Taliban, especially in the 1980s, weren't called the Taliban; they were called the Mujahedeen. It was a precursor, but they were our best friends along with Osama bin Laden. We were allies with them because we supported the principle that it was wrong for the Soviets to be occupying Afghanistan.

Now the tables have turned. Now we are the occupiers. Now the very people who used to help us are shooting and killing us. It has been revealed just recently with this release of information that they actually have some Stinger missiles, and as of the last month or so, three of our helicopters have been shot down.

So where does this all end?

One thing about the reports in the newspaper, I think if they changed the definition or the use of one term, I think it would change everybody's attitude, if people came around to believing that the Taliban are people who aren't dedicated toward coming over here to kill us, like some of the al Qaeda are, but the Taliban are only interested in getting rid of the occupiers of their country.

So we call them militant. So we go in, and we raid and shoot and kill and bomb, and then we say, aha, we killed 37 militants today.

What if we reported this always like we did in the eighties.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. KUCINICH. I yield the gentleman another minute.

Mr. PAUL. What if it was always reported that freedom fighters were killed, as it was when they were our friends and our allies? The whole thing would change.

But, no, we call them militants and we call them insurgents. But they were formerly our allies and our so-called friends.

So this is just a reflection on the ridiculousness of our analyst policy of intervention and how so often our allies and our friends turn against us, and how our money, taxpayers' money, so often is used against us. I think this is a perfect example.

We would like to stop it. That's why we brought this resolution up. We don't want to see this war spread, and we want the American people to know about it, and we want this Congress to know about it, because foreign policy isn't even written in the Constitution.

The responsibility of how we run our foreign affairs is with the U.S. Congress; and when we go to war, it should be a congressional function, not an executive function; and some day we may get there, but right now, today, we have to do our very best to let people know the shortcomings of the policy we're following in Pakistan.


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