Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Remarks From Senate Floor On Iraq Escalation

I offer without further comment some important remarks made on the floor of the Senate yesterday on the expected announcement tonight from George W. Bush on escalating America's involvement in Iraq:

Byron Dorgan (D-ND)

One point the President will have to explain is the testimony that was given less than 2 months ago before the Senate by General Abizaid, the top military commander in Iraq. I am talking about the top military commander of American troops in Iraq. Here is what General Abizaid said in November, less than 2 months ago. He said:

"I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the corps commander, General Dempsey. We all talked together. And I said, 'In your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does that add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq?' And they all said no. The reason is because we want the Iraqis to do more. It is easy for the Iraqis to rely upon us to do this work. I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future."

This is testimony before a congressional committee of the top U.S. military commander in Iraq saying he has asked all of his top commanders, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq.

That is something I believe has to be reconciled. Has that changed? Has something changed in 2 months?

At this point, we have America's troops in the middle of a civil war. Yes, most of this is sectarian violence. We see the reports. January 7: 30 dead in Baghdad, bodies hang from lampposts. The Government said Saturday that 72 bodies were recovered around the city, most showing signs of torture. We see these day after day after day. Our heart breaks for the innocent victims of this war.

The question for us now is, Should American troops be in the middle of that civil war? Should we send additional troops to that circumstance? If so, for what purpose? And if so, why do we do it less than 2 months after General Abizaid said the commanders do not believe additional troops will be effective?

Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)

Our constituents back home understand that President Bush has totally mishandled the diplomatic and strategic parts of the Iraq mission and our troops are the ones who are caught in the middle--caught in the middle of an ethnic civil war between Sunnis and Shiites.

At every turn, this President has made terrible judgments. Tomorrow we are going to hear another decision by President Bush. Why should the American people trust him to understand what he is getting us into? We heard the President say, "Bring 'em on," one of the most disingenuous statements ever made by a President. I served in Europe during World War II, and I can tell you that we never wanted to hear a Commander in Chief taunting the enemy from the comforts of the White House. Asking more of the enemy to show their faces? We didn't want to see them at all.

We saw the President's foolish display of bravado on the Aircraft Carrier Abraham Lincoln when he declared, "Mission accomplished." What a careless statement the President of the United States made that day, over 3 1/2 years ago. Mission accomplished? That meant the job was finished, as far as most people were concerned. But it was not through.

Robert Byrd (D-WV)

I oppose any surge in Iraq. Only days ago, just days ago, we passed the grim milestone of 3,000 American dead in Iraq. There are few firm numbers on Iraqi lives lost, but estimates are in the tens of thousands. I am reminded of one definition of "insanity": making the same mistake over and over while continuing to expect a different result. We have surged before. Still the violence in Iraq worsens.

We are close to the beginning of the fifth year -- the fifth year -- of a war which should never have been started by an administration that fed the Congress and the public false information. This is an administration which has learned nothing -- nothing, zilch -- nothing more about the country of Iraq than it knew before it launched an unprovoked U.S. attack.

Any plan to increase troops in President Bush's new strategy is simply a plan to intensify violence, put more American troops in harm's way, risk the lives of more innocent Iraqis, engender more hatred of U.S. forces, and embroil U.S. forces deeper in a civil war.

If the "shoot first" crowd in the White House continues to stick its chin out and believe that bullets and bombast will carry the day, soon -- very soon -- our ability to mediate the morass of difficulties in the Mideast and elsewhere may be permanently damaged.

Pariahs do not usually carry much weight at negotiating tables. If the lesson in Iraq teaches anything, it is that military might has very great limitations. But then that is a lesson we should have learned many years ago from Vietnam -- many years ago from Vietnam.