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Mart Security: Leading with Our Compassion, Not Our Military Firepower

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Speaker, a few minutes from now, Members of the House and the Senate will head to the Capitol steps. We're going to the Capitol steps for a moment of remembrance to honor those who were killed in the attacks on September 11, 2001--September 11, 2001, a day that will forever be seared into the memory of American citizens and the world.

Eleven years later, Mr. Speaker, spouses still grieve; children still feel the void; parents are still devastated by the loss of their children. It was a tragedy for individual families and for the entire Nation. One of the lingering tragedies of that day is that it led to policy decisions with terrible consequences that we're still living with today. Over the last decade-plus, violence and mayhem have just led to more violence and mayhem.

Our continued military occupation of Afghanistan has not brought the stability. It has not brought security. It has not brought a strong democracy to that country. Afghanistan remains one of the poorest and most dangerous places on Earth. The Taliban has not been driven into oblivion. The terrorist threats continue. And according to a New York Times article this past weekend, even U.S. commanders are admitting that the Taliban remains ``resilient'' while al Qaeda is ``evolving'' and ``adapting.''

Mr. Speaker, while we in the House adjourned for the month of August, there was no recess for our troops. In fact, since we were last in session, another 60 U.S. servicemembers died in Afghanistan. Countless more suffered wounds to the body and to the brain. And then there are the Afghan civilians, many of them children, who are being killed every single day. How do we tell the families of these children that this is all for a good and just cause? We can't.

Mr. Speaker, it's time to stop conducting national security policy on the principles of revenge and retaliation and on the false hope that we are making it better. The right way to secure and ensure security is to put America's best foot forward, to lead with our compassion and not our military power.

That's what my SMART Security platform is all about. It puts development and diplomacy front and center, and it makes war a last resort. It is based on a commitment to improving the lives of Afghan people, alleviating power, creating economic opportunity, rebuilding infrastructure, improving education, and attacking public health problems in that area.

We can't do this with the military surge. We can only do it with a civilian surge--a surge of experts, of aid workers, of technical experts, from engineers to midwives. Of course, our development agencies are doing this kind of work, and they're doing the best they can possibly do, but not nearly the scale that's necessary to make this possible. Compared to billions of dollars every month that we spend on the war, we're investing just a tiny fraction of that on humanitarian work that is so badly needed.

Public opinion has turned dramatically against this war, and yet our most visible leaders continue to lag behind the people that elected them. The President of the United States says he will end this war in 2014, which is a good goal, but it is not nearly soon enough. His opponent, on the other hand, in the most important speech of his life a few weeks ago, didn't see fit to even mention Afghanistan--not even once.

So, Mr. Speaker, when we gather on the steps of the Capitol, as I bow my head, it will be in remembrance of those who died 11 years ago today, and it will also be with a fervent prayer of hope that we can honor their memory by finally ending the war in Afghanistan and finally bringing our troops home.

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