Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Man Speaks

The Honorable John P. Murtha
War in Iraq

(Washington D.C.)- The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

General Casey said in a September 2005 Hearing, “the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency.” General Abizaid said on the same date, “Reducing the size and visibility of the coalition forces in Iraq is a part of our counterinsurgency strategy.”

For 2 ½ years I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited. A few days before the start of the war I was in Kuwait – the military drew a red line around Baghdad and said when U.S. forces cross that line they will be attacked by the Iraqis with Weapons of Mass Destruction – but the US forces said they were prepared. They had well trained forces with the appropriate protective gear.

We spend more money on Intelligence than all the countries in the world together, and more on Intelligence than most countries GDP. But the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong. It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a U.S. intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused.

I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.

The threat posed by terrorism is real, but we have other threats that cannot be ignored. We must be prepared to face all threats. The future of our military is at risk. Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment. Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards. Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care. Choices will have to be made. We can not allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care, to be negotiated away. Procurement programs that ensure our military dominance cannot be negotiated away. We must be prepared. The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the U.S.

Much of our ground equipment is worn out and in need of either serious overhaul or replacement. George Washington said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” We must rebuild our Army.

Our deficit is growing out of control. The Director of the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted to being “terrified” about the budget deficit in the coming decades. This is the first prolonged war we have fought with three years of tax cuts, without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. The burden of this war has not been shared equally; the military and their families are shouldering this burden.

Our military has been fighting a war in Iraq for over two and a half years. Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. Our military captured Saddam Hussein, and captured or killed his closest associates. But the war continues to intensify. Deaths and injuries are growing, with over 2,079 confirmed American deaths. Over 15,500 have been seriously injured and it is estimated that over 50,000 will suffer from battle fatigue. There have been reports of at least 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.

I just recently visited Anbar Province Iraq in order to assess the conditions on the ground. Last May 2005, as part of the Emergency Supplemental Spending Bill, the House included the Moran Amendment, which was accepted in Conference, and which required the Secretary of Defense to submit quarterly reports to Congress in order to more accurately measure stability and security in Iraq. We have now received two reports. I am disturbed by the findings in key indicator areas. Oil production and energy production are below pre-war levels. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by the security situation. Only $9 billion of the $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. Unemployment remains at about 60 percent. Clean water is scarce. Only $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects has been spent. And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled. An annual State Department report in 2004 indicated a sharp increase in global terrorism.

I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.

Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis.

I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.

My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.

Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.

8 Thoughts:

Blogger Doug said...

Nice!

But he's just a political opportunist being unpatriotic. God-Daddy-President said so.

Thursday, November 17, 2005 7:51:00 PM  
Blogger pawlr said...

This is huge - this guy is an old-school Dem hawk, and retired Marine Colonel Vietnam Vet, respected on the Hill.

McClellan's statement - which shows the PR machine is really flailing now in face of the better-late-than-never attacks of conscience by the Dems, from Reuters today:

"White House spokesman Scott McClellan, in a statement issued with Bush in Pusan, South Korea, said Murtha is a respected veteran and politician "so it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party."
--------------

As to Cheney's earlier glowering on Thursday describing as "dishonest and reprehensible" accusations that the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to justify the attack on Iraq - Murtha has this to say:

"I like guys who got five deferments and (have) never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done" - San Jose Mercury

Fuckin-A right.

Thursday, November 17, 2005 9:33:00 PM  
Blogger pawlr said...

Jesus this guy had a 37-year career in the Corps. And the fucking chickenhawks are calling him a surrender monkey.

Bastards.

Thursday, November 17, 2005 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger pawlr said...

Here's a transcript of the Margret Warner's interview with Murtha.

This guy has the big balls to tell it like it is. No wonder the Bush people sound desperate. Listen to this excerpt:

MARGARET WARNER: Let me ask you about those soldiers because the Republicans - there were a lot of Republican critics came out today to take aim at your proposal, and they said if the U.S. leaves now before the job is done, it will simply devalue the sacrifice that the more than 2,000 Americans who died made, and all of these many, many--

REP. JOHN MURTHA: Margaret, Margaret, the flawed policy is what's devaluated their service. They had inadequate forces when they went in, and then they disbanded the army.

These troops are disciplined. They can't speak for themselves. It's up to the Congress of the United States. Only the Congress can send our nation to war, and the Congress -- and I voted to go to war. When I looked at the intelligence, I believed the same way they believed.

But now I believe the opposite. I believe we've done everything we can do. I believe we have become the enemy. And I'll tell you this: The Iraqis are not going to do the fighting unless we turn it over to them. They're going to let us continue.

If we allow our measurement to get out of their up to the Iraqis, we'll never get out. It's going to be up to us to decide when we get out of there.

Now, when I say redeploy our troops, I'm talking about to Kuwait, if they allow us to redeploy there, to Okinawa where we can be over the horizon, go back in, in case there's more terrorist activity.

You have got to remember, Margaret, there was no terrorist activity in Iraq at all before we went in there. There's been an increase. The State Department said there's been an increase in terrorist activity in the last couple of years, before they stopped putting the report out.

MARGARET WARNER: Okay. But the president does say, as you know, that for whatever reason Iraq --

REP. JOHN MURTHA: But the president said a lot of things, and they turned out not to be true. The president said there are weapons of mass destruction. The president said oil would pay for it. The president cut taxes at a time when we're in a war.

MARGARET WARNER: So do you reject -

REP. JOHN MURTHA: Just because he says it doesn't make it so. The American people don't believe this president.

MARGARET WARNER: But may I ask you, sir, if you believe -- he says -- for whatever reason, Iraq has become the center of terrorism - that if the U.S. appears to retreat in the face of that, that it will be a blow to the American fight against radical Islamic terrorism? What do you say to that?

REP. JOHN MURTHA: Well, I say that the fight against Americans began with Abu Ghraib. It began with the invasion of Iraq. That's when terrorism started. It didn't start when there was criticism of this administration. This administration doesn't want to listen to any ideas.

This is an idea of how we can save lives, of how we can be on the periphery of Iraq and send troops back in, in case there is an increase in terrorism that we need to go back in.

The Iraqis have to control this themselves. They're proud people. They've got to realize this election -- and I'm saying this before the election because I believe the Iraqis have to -- when they elect somebody, they've got to unify that country, and we have got to ask for international help to work through the problem. I think terrorism would stop. I think it would be the opposite. We're the enemy. We're reason they're -- we're the ones they're attacking for heaven's sake. We're the only thing that could unify the Iraqis.

Friday, November 18, 2005 12:16:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I think these yahoos will find that "liberal" doesn't cut it, and to ally anyone who disagrees with "Michael Moore" or a lack of patroitism is going to come off quite badly.

Friday, November 18, 2005 8:09:00 AM  
Blogger Demotiki said...

Murtha prefaced his speech with the comment that "the American people are ahead of us on this." He knows that his views, while courageous, are held by many rational Americans. He also knows how everything panned out in Vietnam, since he actually lived through it and was fighting on the ground, not cheering from the safety of an Air National Guard base in the states or sitting out the action with five defferments.

In Vietnam I talked to cabinet-level officials from the former South Vietnamese Government and North Vietnamese generals including Giap himself. One point they all agreed on was that a culture of corruption and dependence killed the South's will to fight. Additionally, the presence of U.S. troops caused cultural tensions that stirred nationalistic feelings in the Vietnamese public. Although our troops were committed far more atrocities in Vietnam, knowledge of them was not as widely spread, and expectations were far lower than they are today. In general, the all volunteer force we currently have is far more professional than the army of the Vietnam era. Drug use by troops is lower and there are not 600,000 prostitutes in Baghdad like there were in Saigon.

However, like Vietnam, most Iraqi citizens believe that supporting the American occupation over nationalist forces is unpatriotic. This simple fact is born out by independent research conducted by a number of polling firms and media groups. While it might make some Americans feel better about the war to deny this stark reality, basing our policy upon such a fiction can only be disastrous. In reality the Iraqi people increasingly want us to leave. There is no point asking “why” at this point. The administration has failed to win the hearts and minds, mainly because they believed their own bullshit when nobody in Iraq did. At this point we need to get out ASAP if Iraq is to have any hope of being the democratic haven our president claimed he wished to create. Finally someone had the courage to call it like it is.

Friday, November 18, 2005 5:11:00 PM  
Blogger Demotiki said...

Murtha gave a wonderful heartfelt speech on the floor of the House. It was on CSPAN live at 11:00pm Friday night. I wish I had recorded it. Doug can you get us a link for that?

Friday, November 18, 2005 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

All I can find on C-SPAN today searching "Murtha" is his press conference. (There's other stuff, but not what you're looking for.)

It takes time to stream video; I bet you'll see this by Monday or Tuesday on C-SPAN.org.

Saturday, November 19, 2005 12:32:00 PM  

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