Souder's excellent speech
Rep. Mark Souder of Indiana gave a wonderfully well-written speech yesterday during the "debate" over the anti-surge resolutions. Souder speaks accurately for all who want our side to work toward victory, not Stay The Course.I voted to support this war because I believe Iraq presented a direct threat to the United States. Iraq had, was developing, and was attempting to develop weapons of mass destruction. Iraq was, at a minimum, cooperating with the funding and harboring of terrorists committed to our destruction. Saddam Hussein was repeatedly defying UN resolutions, contesting no-fly zones, and blocking WMD inspectors. Our intelligence estimates, never 100 percent accurate in any case, apparently overstated the immediate risk, but the basic facts remain the same. Knowing what we know now, perhaps we could have waited another six to 12 months, which would have given us valuable time to solidify our position in Afghanistan. But the decision to go to war was still the right decision, just possibly premature. I would not have supported this war had the initial selling point been a goal of establishing democracy in Iraq.
Certain basic arguments being made by the administration are simply not accurate.
To insist that the war in Iraq is not a civil war – when the entire world and Americans all understand that it is – continues to undermine the credibility of those who make it.
We had hoped that the early, smaller-scale civil war could be countered by a strong central government. It is now a large scale civil war eroding the already-limited power of the Iraqi government. It is now absurd to deny it is a civil war.
Making exaggerated statements of progress in Iraq also does not pass a basic credibility test.
While we have made sporadic progress – a school or project here and there – it is apparent to any Member of Congress who visited Iraq a number of years ago and again recently that security had deteriorated.
Baby-boomer Americans especially tend to see everything as Vietnam. A government that denies basic realities has little hope of persuading even its friends. We want our government to tell the truth, pleasant or not.
I have repeatedly heard from returning soldiers that, when the gunfire starts, the Iraqis by and large disappear. They only seem dedicated when Shia get to kill Sunnis and vice versa.
By being bogged down as the main security force in Iraq in increasingly hostile cities, we are undermining our long-term potential to fight the War on Terror.
For years we have been utilizing our National Guard and our Reserves as if they were regular military. Many are about to enter their second 12-month-plus tour of duty in combat, something historically many regular military veterans did not do.
Because of this heavy usage, we are starting to short training funds and repair funds for those units. We are finding that employers are getting increasingly nervous about disruptions to their firms. Family objections are becoming more intense. Recruiters are running into increasing resistance.
It has been said many times by defenders of this surge that Iraq is the place the enemy has chosen to fight and thus it is the place that we must fight.
That is partly true.
Hezbollah has chosen to fight us on many fronts. Iran is a threat itself, not just by funding terrorism in Iraq. Terrorists attacked in Madrid, London, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and many other places throughout the world. And they continue to try to attack us in the United States.
Iraq is not the only place terrorists have chosen to fight.
If we burn up the support of the American people, our military’s ability to recruit, the usage of our Guard and Reserves in Iraq, how do we defend ourselves elsewhere?
But we cannot sustain this intense an effort indefinitely. Complete victory over terrorism is unlikely ever to occur. Sometimes you have to reposition and prepare for the broader battle, not exhaust yourself on just one front and then risk defeat in the overall conflict.
I beseech our President, Secretary Gates, Secretary Rice and others never to give up the War on Terror but to understand that, without significant tactical drawdowns in Iraq, our entire counterterrorism and military efforts are threatened. Our nation can ill-afford another decade of defeatism and retreat that seized the United States after Vietnam.Read the whole thing here.