Friday, November 18, 2005

FUN QUOTES + STATEMENT

“The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone — but we’re not going to sit by and let them rewrite history." - Vice President Dick Cheney, referring to Democrats and to those who disagree with the administration's Iraq policy.

“I like guys who’ve never even been there, that criticize us who’ve been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments, have never been there, and send people to war and then don’t like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.” - Rep. John Murtha, D-PA, referring to Vice President Dick Cheney

“I resent the fact, on Veterans Day, he criticized Democrats for criticizing them.” - Murtha, referring to George W. Bush and the GOP

Snave's note: Here is what Murtha had to say about the Iraq War, from his website at http://www.house.gov/murtha/ . It's a bit long, but it is a good read.

War in Iraq
The Honorable John P. Murtha

(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.

Snave's notes: Sure, Murtha is a Democrat, but I feel that what he says goes way beyond partisan politics and enters the realm of well-reasoned criticism. The guy was in the military for what, 37 years? He has seen a lot in his lifetime, and from his experience I believe it is more than likely he knows about that of which he speaks. There's no way conservatives who don't like his criticisms should be able to get away with calling him names like "traitor" or "Liberal Girlieman", but they're going to try.

"It’s a very hostile environment and I don’t think its going to ease up, but Congressman Murtha is standing his ground — and he brings all his background and all his credibility with him.
When Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona speaks about torture as a former POW, people listen. Some Republicans told me privately Thursday that when someone of the stature of Murtha steps out like this, you have to pay attention." - Tim Russert

“I won’t stand for the swift-boating of Jack Murtha.” - Sen. John Kerry, 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, who himself was mightily "swift-boated"

MSNBC.com headline: "Rally To Support Iraq War Draws Hundreds". The rally, in D.C., drew about 400 people. Why is it that anti-war rallies are drawing people in the thousands?

“September 11 is losing its power to shape views on foreign policy.” - Lee Feinstein, deputy director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression on Iraq. Once the public sours on a war, they don’t unsour, and the consequences for the president’s foreign policy are that the revolution is over.” - Lee Feinstein

BushCo. must be sweating bullets... all of this dissent is coming at the time the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Council on Foreign Relations has released results of a large-scale opinion poll. Among the results (from MSNBC.com):
-- All categories surveyed agreed that the U.S. image abroad has declined since 9/11 — including half of Republicans.
-- 42% of Americans polled now believe the U.S. should mind its own business internationally, up from 30% just prior to 9-11-01.
— Most of the public believe there hasn’t been another terrorist attack in the United States only because we’ve been lucky. Just a third say it’s because the Bush administration has done a good job protecting the country.
— The general public overwhelmingly believes post-9/11 restrictions on visas for foreign students are worthwhile, but majorities in five of the groups of opinion leaders say they go too far.
— Americans in general say reducing illegal immigration and fighting international drug trafficking are much more important than opinion leaders do.
— The public largely believes U.S. mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was the result of misconduct by U.S. soldiers, while solid majorities in five of the eight groups of opinion leaders say it was the result of official policies.

The entire results are at http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=263 .

"Republicans suffered a poor showing in off-year elections this month, and with next year’s midterm races approaching, the survey suggests that candidates allied or identified with Bush could have a struggle on their hands. Overall, 51 percent of Americans in general disapprove of Bush’s handling of foreign affairs, and 57 percent disapprove specifically of his handling of Iraq." - Alex Johnson of MSNBC

Even with all of this, I have to say I agree with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that if we were to suddenly bail on Iraq it would probably lead to anarchy there. I just want to see some kind of coherent strategy for getting us out of there. I don't think that's too much to ask. In my admittedly less-than-humble opinion, the time for making things up as they go along has ended for the Bush administration. Our country and our troops deserve much better.

3 Comments:

Blogger halcyon67 said...

I love Pennsylvania Democrats, because I am one.

We are crazy and smart and we piss people off.

Murtha was pissed at Cheney. I think Cheney, Limbaugh and Bush need to be reminded that they did not serve.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Right on, Samantha! I admire Specter too, despite his being a Republican. He seems to be a man who has principles to which he adheres, unlike so many other politicians. He is a remarkable contrast to Rick Sphinctorum, anyway...

1:21 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

I absolutely love Murtha's reference to Cheney's five deferments. Take that, Chickenhawk!

5:02 PM  

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