Friday, February 16, 2007

Garrett's Floor Speech on Iraq

Mr. Speaker, the authors of this resolution say that we should provide our troops with all the resources they need, whether it be armor, bullets and Humvees. That is, all the resources they need, except two; and I would argue they are the two most critically important ones: manpower and the support of our national leaders.

This Democratic resolution can be summed up in three simple words, to ``stay the course.'' The irony here is inescapable. Just months ago the very same supporters of this resolution derided the Pentagon and the White House for proposing to stay the course, but today they bring exactly that same strategy to life in their resolution.

This resolution doesn't propose a new course of action. It doesn't have the courage of its author's rhetoric, convictions, to change the course of the war. It simply states that this Congress will not support the new approach proposed by our new commander and the Iraq Study Group.

General Petraeus, the chief architect of this new plan, was confirmed unanimously by the Senate, and yet many in that body and this body are adamantly opposed to this very strategy he now seeks to implement. So it begs the question: If the general is the right man for the job, then why is his plan now not appropriate?

They claim to support the troops but seek to undercut their new leader's strategy. How can we support the troops when we insist that their orders are faulty? We cannot praise the general out of one side of our mouth while mocking him out of the other.

We have heard it said that this resolution calls for a new direction in Iraq. But I defy those who say this, to say what that new direction is. It is certainly not apparent in this resolution. This resolution is only an empty opposition to the Commander in Chief's plan to deploy the Armed Forces as the generals on the field see fit.

This two-sentence resolution, sense of Congress, is not a new plan for victory. In fact, it is not even a new plan for bringing the troops home now, but to leave them in the field with under-manpower. It is little more than a gift to our enemies who have been patiently awaiting the American naysayers to erode the American confidence in our mission.

Our enemies do not lack morale, and we fuel their exuberance with this drive for success every time they hear us speculate on withdrawal. Our enemies are fighting us, against us and our servicemen and our allies, with the belief that each headline brings them closer to victory.

Our brave men and women in uniform are up to the task. But they need our support, not empty proposals that doubt their ability to secure the peace.

Millions of peaceful Iraqis are struggling to rebuild their Nation after the cruel reign of Saddam. They want an opportunity to build a better future for their children, and they ask for our help to secure that peace.

Will we now stand aside while al Qaeda and Iran support factions that would enslave them once again? You know, it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt who knew the repercussions of failing to support those nations that are struggling for liberty, when he said, and I quote: ``Enduring peace cannot be bought at the cost of other people's freedom.''

FDR also declared that we are committed to full support of all those resolute people everywhere who are resisting aggression and are thereby keeping war away from our hemisphere. We cannot have peace in Iraq by handing over those who have worked to build a Nation based on freedom and justice and peace, turn it over to those violent brethren who seek only destruction of those principles. Make no mistake about it: If we stay the course, as this resolution would have us do, it will not be long before this war returns to our shores

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I would like to end with the words of two individuals. The paths they have traveled to now and the paths they desire to take in the future could not be any more different. But, they are equally strong in the passion they bring to their beliefs. And, their words should be instructive to us in this debate.

First are the words of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. He says: ``We have drunk blood in the past, and we find no blood sweeter than that of the Christians. Know that offense is the best form of defense, and be careful not to lay down your weapons before the war is over.'' While we quibble over words here on the floor of the House of Representatives, our enemies speak

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with frightening clarity of conviction. Can there be any doubt that this resolution solidifies the resolve of the jihadists he leads and inspires?

In stark contrast are the words of one of my constituents, Ron Griffin, who 45 months ago lost his son, Kyle, an Airborne Infantryman serving in Iraq. ``We never felt lost or alone for we were literally carried through our sorrow by the resolute, soothing and comforting hands of countless human beings whom I only hope can truly understand how they made life worth living. . . . What I see [now] is a people pummeled into acquiescence. The loss of these wondrous warriors is of itself a weight that is almost unbearable to struggle under, but when accompanied by the din of negativity it becomes to most people a burden.''

Can there be any doubt that this resolution does nothing more than add to the din of negativity of which Mr. Griffin speaks?

I have faith that we can stand strong. I oppose this empty resolution to stay the course. I stand up for an America that is just and free and a friend to those who seek liberty and peace.

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