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Smart Security: To Create an America Built to Last

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Speaker, tonight when the President of the United States addresses our Nation from this Chamber, we will hear some good news on the national security front. The end of the Iraq war, for example, is an impressive accomplishment, one that wouldn't have happened if bold progressives hadn't called for our troops to be brought home way back in 2005.

I'm also pleased the President's leadership will make it possible for our military strategic review to call for significant reductions in defense spending.

But on both of these fronts, ending our current wars and long-range national security strategy, I'm hoping for proposals that are bigger and bolder than what we've heard to this point.

Bottom line, Mr. Speaker, we need to end the war in Afghanistan, and we need to end it now, not 2014. Not at whatever other later date the military brass decides is appropriate. After nearly 1,900 American deaths and more than 10 years of bloodshed and mayhem, we owe it to our troops and to their families, as well as American taxpayers, to bring them home.

This war is not just a moral disgrace, not just a humanitarian disaster, Mr. Speaker; it's a strategic failure. We're spending at least $10 billion every month to prop up a regime in Afghanistan that is ineffective on its best day and downright corrupt on its worst.

Afghanistan continues to be racked by poverty and violence, and my belief is that by continuing to have military boots on the ground, we're encouraging more animosity towards the United States, giving the Taliban a recruitment tool, and thus, undermining our security.

Mr. Speaker, we need a new security program. We need a new security paradigm, an entirely fresh way of thinking about how to keep our Nation safe. Won't we make more friends and win more hearts and minds if we extend a hand of friendship to the rest of the world instead of rattling the saber at the first sign of trouble?

Actually, that's the heart of my SMART security platform. Why are we spending pennies on humanitarian aid for every dollar we're spending on weapons and warfare? Instead of a military surge, we need a civilian surge, one that lifts people out of poverty, rebuilds infrastructure, promotes education, especially for women and girls, and combats malnutrition and global health problems around the world.

SMART security is a renewed commitment to diplomacy, multilateralism, and peaceful conflict resolution. It would support a dramatic downsizing of the military industrial complex. Believe it or not, the Pentagon consumes 56 percent of discretionary spending with a budget bigger in real dollars than it was at the height of the Soviet threat. And with SMART security, we can reverse that.

Tonight I'm told the President will sound the theme of an America built to last. But no Nation, Mr. Speaker, that exists in a state of semipermanent warfare can be built to last. I worry about how we can be built to last when we have enough nuclear warheads to blow the world to smithereens many times over.

Now is the time, Mr. Speaker. Our common humanity compels us to bring the troops home from Afghanistan and implement a SMART security agenda. Now is the time.

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