Best Way To Support Our Troops In Iraq Is To Oppose Escalation, Says Mikulski - Southern Maryland Headline News

Best Way To Support Our Troops In Iraq Is To Oppose Escalation, Says Mikulski


"President Bush says he doesn't need congressional consent, but he is going to get some congressional advice," says Mikulski

WASHINGTON - Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) delivered a floor speech this morning condemning the move by Senate Republicans to block a vote to debate President Bush's plan to escalate the number of troops in Iraq. Senator Mikulski showed her support for the Warner-Biden bipartisan resolution, which she argued was a first step, but not the last word in bringing our troops home safely and swiftly.

"This military escalation is reckless - it won't produce the political reconciliation Iraq needs to stop the violence and it won't bring stability to the region, but it will put more of our troops in harm's way. Neither Congress, nor the American people, will ever abandon our troops," said Senator Mikulski. "The best way to support our troops serving in Iraq is to say 'NO' to the President's escalation of the war. Let's send in the diplomats and bring our troops home safely and soon."

To hear and/or broadcast Senator Mikulski's floor speech, call (800) 511-0763 and, when prompted, enter actuality number 8318 or download a high-quality mp3 at: http://demradio.senate.gov/actualities/mikulski/mikulski070206.mp3.

Excerpts from Senator Mikulski's statement are printed below:

"The American people want a new way forward in Iraq and they expect the Congress to act. We have before the Senate a bipartisan resolution put together by Senators Warner, Levin, Biden and others that will be the first step toward changing U.S. policy in Iraq. But last night, Senate Republicans voted to block debate. They voted to cut and run from the most important issue we face as a nation today.

"To my colleagues, my constituents and the American people - I absolutely do support the Warner-Biden resolution on Iraq opposing the escalation of troops in Iraq. This bipartisan resolution is a first step - it will not be the last word in bringing our troops home safely and swiftly.

"The Warner-Biden resolution affirms a clear and unequivocal commitment to our American men and women in uniform. Congress will not abandon them while they are in Iraq or when they come home. Congress will stand by our troops. This Warner-Biden resolution says 'NO' to the President's reckless plan to escalate in Iraq. This bipartisan resolution insists that the Iraqi government stand up for its own people in providing security, services and an agreement on sharing oil revenue.

"I'm not new to this position. I never wanted to go to war in the first place. I was one of the 23 who voted against this war four years ago, on October 11, 2002. I will never forget it. I did not believe the administration's arguments then, and I do not believe them now. I opposed giving the President unilateral authority to launch a preemptive attack. I said the U.S. had to exhaust our diplomatic options. I encouraged the administration to stick with the U.N., to let the U.N. meet its responsibility to deal with the Saddam threat. I said we shouldn't go in on our own, we should work with the U.N. and the international community. The day of the vote, I was so filled with apprehension about the course we were embarking on. I said, 'We don't know if we will be greeted with flowers or landmines.' Well, now we know - the mission did not get accomplished. When we got to Iraq, there were no weapons of mass destruction. But the destruction happened, and it happened fast.

"No one could ask more of our troops - they are brave and courageous and they have fought valiantly. After four years of fighting, where are we in Iraq? Well, the United States went to war with Iraq and today, we are at war within Iraq. Saddam is gone, but we're still there, mired in a civil war between different ethnic and sectarian groups.

"Now you know what I am against, but let me tell you what I am for. The Warner-Biden resolution tells the President that the Senate opposes his reckless plan for escalation in Iraq because the President's plan will not achieve U.S. goals in Iraq. This bipartisan resolution says the primary objective of overall U.S. strategy in Iraq should be to encourage Iraqi leaders to make political compromises to foster reconciliation and strengthen the unity government.

"I support the Warner-Biden resolution. It makes clear to our men and women in uniform that Congress will not abandon them. It says Congress should not take any action that will endanger U.S. military forces in the field, whether on the battlefield or on the home front. Our troops deserve to know that Congress supports them, not just with words, but with deeds.

"I support the Warner-Biden resolution because it reflects what the intelligence community tells us - NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] says any solution in Iraq requires political solution from Iraqis. It is up to Iraqi leadership to make difficult changes. They must go beyond their sectarian interests to take on extremists, establish effective national institutions, and stop corruption. The solution in Iraq requires a political solution from Iraqis, not military muscle from Americans.

"There are parts of the Warner-Biden resolution I don't agree with. It calls the President's plan an 'augmentation.' This isn't an augmentation; it's an escalation. I'm opposed to any escalation of this war. This isn't about the number of troops the President wants to send. It is about ending the war and getting our troops out of this sorry situation.

"We need a way forward in Iraq. The Iraq Study Group gives us 79 recommendations as a way to go forward. The Iraq Study Group report calls for new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts in Iraq, and a change in the primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq to enable the U.S. to begin to move our forces out of Iraq responsibly. It provides a direction for the U.S. and Iraqi governments to follow that could lead to the withdrawal of U.S. forces by the first quarter of 2008.

"In short, where do we go from here?

"Number one - send in the diplomats before we send in the troops. We need a robust diplomatic strategy to match our robust military strategy.

"Number two - make it clear that Congress will not abandon our troops in the field. The best way to support our troops is to surge U.S. diplomacy and Iraqi political progress. Because without cooperation of regional powers and backbone of the Iraqi government, U.S. military strategy alone can't stabilize Iraq.

"Number three - make it clear that if Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki can't act, the U.S. won't support him. Prime Minister Maliki and his government must meet the benchmarks we've set: political compromise and national reconciliation, a government that will function on behalf of its people, a strong Iraqi Army and an effective Iraqi police force, an end to corruption in government ministries, and an agreement on sharing oil revenues.

"President Bush says he doesn't need congressional consent, but he is going to get some congressional advice. This military escalation is reckless - it won't produce the political reconciliation Iraq needs to stop the violence and it won't bring stability to the region, but it will put more of our troops in harm's way.

"A great American military cannot be a substitute for a weak Iraqi government. Neither Congress, nor the American people, will ever abandon our troops. They have a tough job and we are proud of them. The best way to support our troops serving in Iraq is to say 'NO' to the President's escalation of the war. Let's send in the diplomats and bring our troops home safely and soon."

Sponsored Content

Reader Comments

Featured Sponsor

Shelley's Pet Boutique in Hollywood
Professional grooming for your pet. Serving Southern Maryland for over 15 years.

Follow SoMd HL News