Sunday, February 18, 2007

Rep John Kline on Iraq

Soldiers and Marines need support, not micromanagement by Congress

Troops needs Congress to fund reinforcements, equipment and supplies

February 14, 2007

On Tuesday, Feb. 13, Congressman John Kline delivered a speech on
the floor of the House of Representatives expressing his strong
opposition to H. Con. Resolution 63 and asking for Congress to support
the new commander in Iraq and give him what is needed to succeed in
this mission.

Mr. Speaker, of course I rise today in strong opposition to this
resolution.

It occurs to me, Mr. Hunter, that I need to thank you not only for
your service, but for your son’s service in the Marine Corps. It is one
of those little twists of those things that I served my whole life in
the Marine Corps, and my son is serving in the Army. You served in the
Army, and your son is serving in the Marine Corps. And I don’t know if
we will ever untwist this. But I thank you and him for his service.

Mr. Speaker, the proponents of this resolution will have us believe
that this resolution supports and protects our military personnel while
criticizing the President for changing course.

We have listened to several speakers today who, like me, served in
Vietnam and witnessed firsthand the micromanagement of the war from
Washington. Ironically, they stand here today endorsing the same
incompetent policy of interference. Instead of President Johnson
choosing bombing targets, however, we have 535 legislators dictating
General Petraeus’s reinforcement levels; yes, dictating his tactics. It
was wrong in 1967, Mr. Speaker, and it is wrong in 2007.

I notice that the distinguished chairman of the Armed Services
Committee has risen several times today to point out his belief that
what the President is doing is not a change of strategy, it is a change
of tactics. And I would say to my good friend, that great gentleman
from Missouri, that if that is right, if this is tactics, then in fact
this resolution is trying to do just that, micromanage the tactics of
this war.

If congressional micromanagement were the only problem with this
resolution, I would still argue vigorously for its defeat. But it is
not the only problem. Understanding the purpose and intent of this
resolution, its proponents have revealed their true intentions in the
course of this debate. They intend for this resolution to be the first
step on the path to defunding our troops, withdrawing them, and
allowing Iraq to become a chaotic, ungoverned space that will act as a
training ground for al Qaeda and the radical jihadists that we are at
war with.

Though few in the West knew it, a new war had already begun during
my days as commander of Marine aviation forces in Somalia. In the
intense battle in the back alleys of Mogadishu that inspired the movie
“Blackhawk Down'’ and the bombing of vulnerable U.S. embassies in
Tanzania and Kenya captured America’s attention briefly, but it took an
unprecedented attack on our homeland for the country to realize what
Islamic extremists had long known: The United States was at war. And I
think Mr. Saxton did a very thorough and eloquent job of explaining the
length and nature of this war. Every country was now a potential front
and every city a battlefield in the enemy’s war against Zionist
crusaders and nonbelievers. Whether by design or not, Iraq has become
the front in not only a physical war of attrition, but in the war of
wills between free societies and Islamic jihadists who seek to destroy
them.

The proponents of this flawed resolution prefer to ignore reality.
They believe that repeating the mistaken belief that Iraq is not a
central front in the war against Islamic jihadists will make that
perception real. Unfortunately for those who hold this belief, the
enemy, our enemy has a say in the matter. Al Qaeda’s second in command,
al-Zawahiri, in December 2006, made it quite clear where al Qaeda
stands. In a video posted on jihadist Web sites, al-Zawahiri sent a
clear message: “The backing of Jihad in Afghanistan and Iraq today is
to back the most important battlefields in which the crusade against
Islam and Muslims is in progress. And the defeat of the Crusaders
there, soon, Allah permitting, will have a far-reaching effect on the
future of the Muslim Ummah, Allah willing.'’

We have heard repeatedly that al Qaeda and the jihadist terrorists
understand that Iraq is the central front in this war against radical
Islam. Thankfully, the U.S. military leadership has also recognized
this fact.

In his recent testimony before the Senate, General David Petraeus
was asked if he believes that Iraq affects the overall war on terror.
His response was clear and unequivocal: “I do, sir.'’

Clearly, there are elements of the greater al Qaeda network of
international extremists that want something very different than most
Iraqis want, and want something very different in that region and in
the world.

Many mistakes have been made as our military, unparalleled in
conventional strength and maneuver, has changed strategy and tactics to
fight the counterinsurgency battle. In response to the frustration at
the lack of progress felt by those in Iraq and at home, the American
military demonstrated its greatest strength: the ability to adapt to
new conditions on the ground and develop new strategy.

To those who have lived and studied the art of military strategy and
tactics, the plan we debate this week, developed by American commanders
in Iraq and here at home, represents a fundamental shift. In a study
updated last week, Anthony Cordesman from the nonpartisan Center for
Strategic and International Studies, declared that, “Much of the
criticism of the new Bush approach has been unfair. The new strategy is
considerably more sophisticated and comprehensive than the details the
President could fit into his 20-minute address,'’ or, I might add, Mr.
Speaker, than I can include in this 10-minute address, “presuming it
combines political, military and economic action in ways that do offer
a significant hope of success.'’

But rather than acknowledge the comprehensive nature of the new
Baghdad and al-Anbar security plan, opponents prefer to ignore the
pleas of General Petraeus to provide him with the troops necessary to
turn the security situation in Iraq’s capital city around. Instead,
they pat him on the back, wish him “Godspeed'’ in his endeavor, and
then promptly move to deny him that which he has requested and needs to
succeed. As a Vietnam veteran, I cannot in good conscience watch as
Congress once again undercuts the morale of those in uniform.

I will not stand idly by and watch others resurrect the ghost of
that painful conflict, and we have heard it resurrected many times this
day, Mr. Speaker, without acknowledging the slaughter and humanitarian
disaster that resulted from the fall of Saigon. And it was a
humanitarian disaster. Millions died. Just as in 1974, decisions we
make today in this body will have consequences for entire nations and
generations to come. History stands ready to judge the wisdom of this
body, its ability to learn from past mistakes and its ability to
comprehend the ramifications of its actions. In spite of countless
warnings, I fear we will come up short in the eyes of posterity.

Opponents call for the administration to heed the advice of its
generals, only to reject the commanders’ pronouncement when such states
are at odds with their own misguided perceptions. They criticize the
“cherry-picking'’ of prewar intelligence, and then proceed to do just
that, while reading the most recent National Intelligence Estimate,
choosing to ignore the dire warnings of the Intelligence Community’s
most authoritative written judgments on national security issues.

But to those who criticize this new security plan and offer no
solutions for success, only demands for capitulation, we must demand
that they answer a vital question they choose to ignore: What will
happen if the Iraqi Government does not succeed and we withdraw
prematurely?

One critic of the administration’s handling of Iraq, a very vocal
critic, and a man who I knew and admired throughout my Marine Corps
career, retired General Anthony Zinni, the former commander of Central
Command, spelled it out bluntly when he noted that, “We cannot simply
pull out, as much as we may want to. The consequences of a destabilized
and chaotic Iraq sitting in the center of a critical region in the
world could have catastrophic implications.”

The recent National Intelligence Estimate was even more specific in
its analysis. If the United States were to withdraw rapidly, the Iraqi
security forces would likely collapse, neighboring countries might
intervene openly in the conflict; massive civilian casualties and
forced population displacement would be probable; and al Qaeda in Iraq
would attempt to use parts of the country to plan increased attacks in
and outside of Iraq.

It seems pretty clear to me, Mr. Speaker, what we are debating here
is success or failure.

Let us not support that catastrophe. Let us not promote a
humanitarian disaster which is almost unimaginable. Let us support
success in Iraq. Let us support the new commander in Iraq and give him
what he needs to succeed in this mission.

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