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February 16, 2007 01:30 AM UTC

DeGette Speaks on Iraq Resolution

  • by: Colorado Pols

Yesterday Rep. Mark Udall made remarks on the House Floor against sending additional troops to Iraq, and Friday Rep. Diana DeGette was scheduled to do the same. Click below for the full remarks…

“Thank you, Madam Speaker.

“I rise in strong support of House Concurrent Resolution 63.  I fundamentally disagree with the President’s plan to add thousands of troops to the Iraqi conflict.  It is time for a new course in Iraq… a rational course… a more humane course of action.  It is long-past time to start a phased withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. 

“Madam Speaker, this debate is about policy and direction.  Surely, the facts on the ground cannot be used to support continued or increased combat involvement in Iraq.  Iraq is in a civil war.  That is the truth, and it is time we accept the implications of that fact.  Our soldiers have no business acting as unwanted umpires or surrogate police officers

“The latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concludes, ‘the term ‘civil war’ accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict…’  If this is this state of the current conflict, what do we expect the U.S. military to do about it?  Police a civil war?  Settle centuries of theological or religious disagreement?  Become diplomats?  Whose side do we chose?  What would our mission be? 

“I do not believe combat forces permanently stop such conflicts.  The troops themselves tell us they are untrained for this role – a role that puts them at extreme risk. 

“Yet, the President mistakenly continues to believe we are fighting illusionary battalions on phantom battlefields.  So, in his mind, we need more troops for victory – a surge that will overwhelm and destroy. 

“That’s how he sees it.  Well, he ignores – ignores – the evidence and reports of our generals, our troops, our Iraq Study Commission, our diplomats, most of our allies, the views of the Iraqi people, and anyone else who actually tries to find out the nature and state of the conflict. 

“He rapidly and recklessly proceeds ahead, with one policy shift after another. 

“He searches for a light at the end of a tunnel.  But, there is no light; it was extinguished long ago.  There is only darkness and despair.  The chaos deepens daily, and the President sits in the Oval Office hoping that it will all, somehow, turn out right in the end. 

“This is neither policy nor leadership.  The Administration’s policies are the stuff of dreams and fantasies, not hard-core determinations of our nation’s interests or the best course for addressing strategic threats. 

“Madam Speaker, hope is not a strategy.  The escalation of troop levels makes no strategic sense.  We must not hesitate to describe the President’s policy in words that are honest and clear.  We confront a policy that is wishful thinking, not realistic assessment.  The Administration’s policy is like a conjuring trick of denial, delusion, and determined folly, which only deepen the disaster.  We are given the vision of a make-believe story instead of a responsible and realistic policy.

“Civil wars are solved through diplomacy, negotiation, and political compromise.  These are the kinds of developments identified by the NIE that will make a difference in Iraq.  While the NIE warns against the rapid withdraw of coalition troops, American forces can come home in a careful, safe, and deliberate manner.

“As the nation’s representatives, it is our constitutional duty to stop the madness.  It is our constitutional mandate to conduct oversight.  It is our constitutional imperative to act.  That is what our Founding Fathers wanted.  They constructed the Constitution to provide checks and balances.  They did not give the President a blank check.  The Constitution is a sacred document to this body.  We swear to uphold it…to defend it.  We do just that when we demand accountability from the President.  We honor our Constitutional requirement when we scrutinize policy.  We defend our Constitutional process when we demand that the President listen to the American people and end unilateral actions that undermine our nation’s strength and place our troops in an untenable, lethal, and unwinnable situation. 

“Madam Speaker, I did not come here to ignore my oath to the American people.  I did not come here to watch our Constitution be rewritten by Presidential arrogance and disregard.  I did not come here to relinquish my sworn duty to protect and defend this sacred document.  I did not come here to ignore the American people, who want this war stopped now!

“Madam Speaker, we can, and will, provide oversight.  I remind the Administration and this body, that the Founding Fathers placed considerable powers in our hands to check a runaway administration.  The power of the purse is one of many checks on executive power.  This administration must not mistake this Congress for the last one – we plan to use our authority and end the passive accommodation that replaced vigorous, necessary discussion and action.

“I fully support our troops and will vote to take care of those already in the field.  However, I will not vote for any money which would allow the President to escalate our involvement in this war.  Today I will vote yes on H. Con. Res. 63 and I strongly encourage all Members to do the same.  Sending in more troops is exactly the wrong course of action.  I cannot and will not support it. 

“Moreover, I strongly believe it is time to begin a phased redeployment of our troops.  It is time we saw the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq.  I will work tirelessly to make that happen and bring our troops home safely.”


9 thoughts on “DeGette Speaks on Iraq Resolution

  1. Support your position wholeheartedly and desire to see the new majority exercise their FULL authority to stop this madness before it spirals even further out of control. The Bush/Cheney cabal is criminal in their allegiance to empire and oil, and for their total disdain of the people they are to serve.

  2. A bit gloomy and pessimistic around the “darkness and despair”, and I don’t agree that no suitable application of troops could calm the situation – just that the number of troops required isn’t available to us, nor would the results of that application necessarily be any prettier than just letting the civil war take its unpleasant, undesired, but inevitable toll.

    If the Democrats want to start sending signals, they can start partitioning the Iraq war money into little bundles – this goes to the troops, this does *not* go to building permanent bases, this does *not* go to illegaly subcontracted security personnel, this goes to reconstruction *by the Iraqi people*…

      1. I’d introduce a piece of legislation taxing oil companies on the revenue gained from Iraqi oil – exactly the amount that the Iraqi government would have gotten under a sane oil extraction agreements – and I’d give the tax back to Iraq for reconstruction and security.

  3. I’m not a giant fan of DeGette but this was a really well phrased speech that seemed to come straight from the heart. And it was direct, specific, and beautifully phrased.

    I just wish it was 20% shorter. No specific part I would cut but it did get a bit repititous. Just because you have 5 minutes does not mean you should use all 300 seconds.

    – dave

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