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Proviso Probe

Saturday, February 17, 2007

GOV, Proviso Reps oppose troop escalation in Iraq

Proviso Township is represented by four members of the House of Representatives: Rep. Danny K. Davis, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Rep. Luis Gutierrez and Rep. Dan Lipinski. All are Democrats.

This week the House of Representatives debated a resolution expressing disagreement with President Bush's plan to escalate the level of troops in Iraq.
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That—
(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and
(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

Earlier Proviso Probe covered Davis' statement. All Proviso representatives voted for the resolution, thereby going on record as opposing the escalation.

Here's what the other representatives had to say:

Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this resolution and in support of a new policy in Iraq. Up until this point, the Bush administration's Iraq policy over the last 3 1/2 years appears to be one of America's worst foreign policy blunders. More than 3,100 of our brave men and women in uniform have been killed and more than 24,000 have been wounded, many very seriously, and hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent and in some cases wasted. This has resulted from the tactical mistakes, errors in judgment and other major missteps by the Bush administration.

It is painfully clear that a change in strategy in Iraq is needed now. We need a plan for bringing stability to Iraq and bringing our troops home. Unfortunately, the President's plan to add over 20,000 additional troops does not provide this, and, therefore, I must support this resolution.

I see three main flaws in the President's plan.

First, the administration has not provided convincing evidence that this surge will succeed after many similar plans have failed. After almost 4 years in Iraq, the American people are asking, why should we have faith in this plan and place more troops in harm's way?

Second, by failing to provide clear benchmarks for success or a time frame by which we can expect the surge to yield positive results, the President's plan appears to commit our country to a ``stay the course'' strategy with no clear end in sight. Aid should be tied to a deadline for progress by the Iraqi Government.

Third, and most importantly, the President continues to place too much emphasis on a military solution, when it is clear that force alone will not solve this crisis. Solutions must support broad international engagement to promote stability and reconstruction in Iraq and must address political, economic and religious issues.

Because of the need for such a plan, earlier this year I laid out a set of recommendations, and this week I introduced H.Res. 152 based on these. My proposal consists of three core recommendations.

First, encourage achievement of important goals and national reconciliation, security and governance by arranging a peace conference for Iraq's ethnic and religious factions, similar to the conference that led to the Dayton Accords. One venue for this would be El Salvador, which has shown a strong commitment to stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq and has gone through its own recent history of a bloody civil war and ensuing reconciliation.

But wherever and however it is done, the political, economic and religious issues must be addressed if peace and security are to be established in Iraq. And it is essential that more pressure be put on the Iraqi Government and all interested parties in Iraq to find and accept real solutions so the American forces can begin withdrawal.

The second recommendation is to seek international cooperation to develop solutions for Iraq. This should include calling an international conference that will work on putting together a peacekeeping force and setting up an international reconstruction program.

Iraq's strategic position in the volatile Middle East, its potential to become a terrorist safe haven, its large supply of oil and the great potential for a humanitarian catastrophe make security in Iraq a critical international issue. It is time for America to engage the nations of the world to encourage them to address this international crisis.

The final recommendation is to require the administration to give Congress detailed reports on the situation in Iraq so that we can make informed decisions regarding funding for reconstruction and deciding when American forces can be redeployed. This new Congress has been vigorously conducting oversight after 3 1/2 years of congressional neglect, but we must have the full cooperation of the administration.

If the recommendations laid out in my resolution are followed, I believe American troops can begin redeployment in 2007, leaving a secure, stable Iraq.

As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated, ``The search for genuine justice and peace in Iraq requires moral urgency, substantive dialogue and new direction.'' Unfortunately, the President does not give us this. That is why his plan is discouraging to many Americans who are weary of this war.

But no one is wearier than our troops and their families. This past weekend I spoke to a soldier who spent 13 months in Iraq and will likely be returning. He told me that it is important to make sure that we let our troops know that they have our complete support. We cannot let anything in this debate be construed otherwise. If this surge occurs even after we pass this resolution, we must continue to support our troops and pray for them every day, so that by God's grace they can succeed in their mission.

Lipinski represents the southern portion of Proviso Township.

Mr. Speaker, we gather today to consider a question that is profoundly simple: Do we support the President's plan to further escalate America's involvement in Iraq, or not? After 4 long, painful years in which we have seen so many young lives lost, are we now willing to put even more of our brave heroes in harm's way, or will we acknowledge that the current course is failing, that doubling down on the status quo while hoping for a better result would be foolish.

There are those who oppose this resolution because they say it would hurt the troops' morale. Hurt morale? Our leaders promised them they would be greeted as liberators. Instead, we have put them smack in the middle of a shooing gallery, policing someone else's civil war, backing an Iraqi government that refuses to stand up for itself.

We have sent our soldiers back time and again. We have sent many of them without the life-saving equipment and armor they needed, and now they say this resolution would hurt troop morale? To suggest that more of the same just won't do.

They have done their duty with courage and discipline. Now it is time for Congress to do its duty. They deserve not to be sacrificed in the furtherance of a policy that failed for the last 4 years.

From the beginning, this war has been a saga of miscalculations, mistakes and misjudgments for which America will pay in many ways for years to come. Let us not compound those bad judgments by ratifying another.

The President assures us that this escalation of war is the most promising path to a more peaceful Iraq. For the past 5 years we have accepted the President's assurances on Iraq, only to learn that the facts on the ground belied his aggressive assertions and rosy rhetoric. We accepted his assurances about the presence of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's links to al Qaeda. We authorized a war on that basis, only to learn that much of what we were told simply wasn't true.

Against stern warnings, we accepted his assurances and those of the Vice President that a post-Saddam Iraq would welcome our presence and overcome deeply engrained sectarian differences. It simply wasn't true. We accepted their assurances when they told us General Shinseki was mistaken when he said we needed far more troops to stabilize Iraq than the administration planned, and that the cost of this war would be minimal. It simply wasn't true. We accepted their assurances when they told us the insurgency was in its last throes. It simply wasn't true.

Each of the last three troop surges has been countered with a surge in violence. It is for that reason that a bipartisan group of House Members and the American public oppose the forth troop increase. More troops doing more of the same is not a policy, it is not a strategy, it is not a tactic, it is the status quo plus.

The time is past for accepting this administration's assurances at face value. The human cost of its repeated assurances is too great.

Mr. Speaker, 3 years ago I asked permission to establish a temporary memorial to the fallen in Iraq in Statuary Hall. The leadership at that time refused, so I began posting the pictures of the young soldiers we have lost outside my office. I have watched as that grim line of photos has grown past my doorway to fill the corridor. More than 3,000 dead, more than 20,000 wounded. When I walk by those photos, I see the purpose, I see the pride, and I see the promise in their young faces. They were sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers who will never see their kids grow up.

I ask you, how long must this grim line of photographs grow before we acknowledge that this policy is not working? How many corridors must these memorials fill before we we say, not on my watch? How many more lives must we lose? How many more hearts must be broken?

It is time for this Congress to tell President Bush that his assurances are not enough. This escalation does not mean stability in Iraq, it will mean more loss and more photographs in the corridor.

I urge you to vote ``yes'' on this resolution.

Emanuel represents most of Melrose Park.

Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong support of this resolution.

Four years ago, President Bush plunged our Nation into a misguided, pre-emptive war with Iraq. I voted against authorizing it then--and I have come to the floor today to affirm my strong opposition to this irresponsible war.

Unfortunately, after 4 years of failed strategies by this administration, the President is now poised to confound his tragic blunder, and ignore the will of the American people, by attempting to increase our presence in Iraq. And that is why this resolution is so important. Because it sends a strong statement. A statement that the vast majority of the country supports. And that is: escalating our presence in Iraq will not lead to success in the region, and more blank checks will not make America more secure.

Madam Speaker, our brave men and women in the military have done all that is asked of them over the course of the last 4 years. They are heroes who represent the finest our country has to offer--and they should be treated accordingly. But, from day one, this administration has spent more time planning its attacks on those who offered legitimate criticisms of the war and its tactics, than it has on planning for a stable and peaceful reconstruction of the region. And the results have been devastating and unworthy of our brave men and women serving in harm's way.

Enough is enough. Troop surges have not worked in the past, and there is no evidence that the same failed policies will work today. In fact, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said in December, ``I am not persuaded that another surge of troops into Baghdad for the purposes of suppressing this communitarian violence, this civil war, will work.''

Yet, this administration continues to ignore the guidance of military experts, the Iraq Study Group, diplomats, decorated war heroes and former senior White House officials of both parties.

And rather than being open to debate and discussion with these experts, this Administration has routinely attacked their character and questioned their patriotism. Many of these individuals have bled on the battlefield. But to this administration, and its swift boat strategists, they are treated merely as political pawns. It is truly shameful.

Because of this Administration's hubris, we have seen troops without proper equipment, without basic body armor, without vehicles equipped to deal with roadside bombs and without the appropriate veteran's services when they return home.

Because of their ignorance, we have seen giant banners saying, Mission Accomplished, when today Iraq has spiraled into a bloody, religious civil war.

Because of their arrogance, we were told that we were going to be treated as liberators, not as occupiers.

And because of their incompetence, we were told that future oil revenues would more than cover the cost of the reconstruction.

They could not have been more wrong. The cost of the war continues to grow at an outrageous rate. To date, we have spent approximately $379 billion on this war, with estimates from some experts saying that the total long-term cost could exceed $1 trillion.

Think about that for a minute: $379 billion spent, more than $8 billion a month. That is enough to fully fund Head Start--100 times over. To give virtually every student in America a computer. Pay for prescription drug coverage for virtually every senior in our Nation. Offer summer jobs to every teen in our country. Put hundreds of thousands of additional police officers on the streets. Provide millions of scholarships to public universities for deserving students. And pay the salaries of millions of public school teachers.

But what do we have to show for that $379 billion--a country plagued with hardened religious sectarian violence.

Madam Speaker, it is time to stop this charade. It is time for the truth. It is time for the administration to really level with the American people.

Resurrecting and rehashing failed policies of the past is not the answer.

Real action is needed. Leadership is needed. Courage is needed. And that is why we are engaged in this debate--to stand up to the deception and the dishonesty.

We are here today to begin to set our strategy back on the right course. To protect our soldiers. And to ensure that we can win the real war on terror.

Madam Speaker, we are here today as patriots because we love our country. We are here because we support our troops. And we are here because we want our troops to be able to come home to their families and loved ones.

Thank you, Madam Speaker, I urge a ``yes'' vote on this important resolution.

Gutierrez represents some of Melrose Park and Stone Park.

What arguments resonate with you? What arguments seem weak?

Davis and Gutierrez voted against the Iraq War Resolution in October, 2002. Emanuel's predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, was one of the 81 Democrats who voted for the resolution (126 Democrats voted "no"). Lipinski's father voted against the Iraq War Resolution.

In the past Emanuel and Dan Lipinski have been more supportive of Bush's Iraq policy than most Democrats.

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  • Why do Lipinski and Emannual refer to Nacy Pelosi as "Mr. Speaker"?

    By Blogger Roy, at 7:45 PM, February 18, 2007  

  • The Speaker (Pelosi) assigns some other Democrat to bang the gavel and keep time. Ray LaHood (R-Peoria) was often chosen for this duty when Hastert was the Speaker.

    So, when the members are on the floor they address the person sitting in the Speaker's chair as "Mr. Speaker" or "Ms. Speaker" even though he or she is not THE Speaker.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 6:59 AM, February 19, 2007  

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