Floor Statement Of Congressman Lynch On The Iraq Resolution

Feb 15, 2007

Today, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (MA-09) declared his support for the Iraq Resolution (H. Con. Res. 63) and made the following statement on the Iraq War on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives:

Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H. Con. Res. 63 which opposes the President's plan to escalate the war in Iraq.

I do so because I am in agreement with Generals Casey and Abizaid who have said that what is needed in Iraq is a political solution, not a military one.

I've had a chance to travel to Iraq 5 times now, and based on my observations in places like Fallujah and Tikrit and Al Qaim out on the Syrian border, I firmly believe it is the Iraqi people who must ultimately decide whether they are more committed to building a better life for their children through democracy or whether they are more committed to an all-or-nothing sectarian conflict between Sunni and Sh'ia.

Madam Speaker, I believe that packing more troops into the narrow streets of Baghdad will be a disaster.

Madam Speaker, as our daily briefings indicate, the dominant conflict on the ground is no longer coalition forces against al Qaeda and supporters of the Baathist regime.

As the daily body counts of tortured and executed Iraqis indicate, the prevailing conflict on the streets of Baghdad is a brutal civil war between Sunni and Sh'ia militias, with our troops in the middle.

In fact, a December hearing that I attended was entitled, "Iraq: Democracy or Civil War? What will it take to achieve a national reconciliation?”

Basically, as this hearing pointed out, the central mission that we have given our troops is to reconcile the differences between Sunni and Sh'ia in Iraq.

Well, just to be clear on this, the Sunni and the Sh'ia have been in frequent conflict since the year 632 AD, after the death of the prophet Muhammad.

What we're trying to do, in essence, is to convince the Iraqis to stop killing each other.

We have asked our brave sons and daughters to take up a police action, or essentially a civil affairs action, not a combat mission, going door to door in Baghdad.

Yes, the mission in Iraq has changed.

I have to wonder how many votes would the President and Vice President have gotten initially if they had said, we want to send our daughters and our sons in uniform to reconcile the differences between the Sunni and the Sh'ia who have been fighting for 1375 years? And we need to go door to door in Baghdad to do it?

Not many I think.

But that's where we now find ourselves and our troops. Yes, the mission in Iraq has changed drastically but the president is staying the course, more than that, he's decided to push even harder in the wrong direction.

Well, now is the time that the American people want to know "What will the Congress do?"

Many of my colleagues believe that this resolution doesn't go far enough, and while I tend to agree with that, I do believe this resolution represents a solid and instructive first step.

I do know that in coming weeks we will debate how to protect our troops while expediting the transition to Iraqi control

Lastly, I'd like to address the argument that if we don't fight the terrorists in Iraq, we'll fight them on Main Street USA.

As I said before, I've been to Iraq five times and one of the questions I've repeatedly asked our generals and the officers on the ground is this..."How much of this fight is against jihadist, Salafists, foreign fighters, and al Qaeda in Iraq?" ... The true terrorists?

I was impressed that even among a wide range of combat commanders the answer has been nearly unanimous - that about 10% of the fighters in Iraq are foreign fighters and jihadists as part of the global war on terror.

They also confirmed that 90% of what's going on in Iraq is about Sunni vs. Sh'ia. It's about a sectarian war and revenge killings that are homegrown in Iraq.

In fact, in November the Defense Department report argued that the Mahdi Army, the main Shiite militia, has replaced al Qaeda in Iraq as the most dangerous force increasing violence there.

 

So we are spending $8 billion a month in Iraq and 90% of that conflict and 90% of that cost is not part of the global war on terror.

Meanwhile, we have a situation in south east Afghanistan and Waziristan, where the Taliban who actually sponsored and supported al Qaeda's attacks are building up support

And Pakistan has basically allowed a safe haven to be established for the Taliban.

If we are indeed committed to protecting America, I would suggest there are smarter and better ways to do it.

Yes. The American people are waiting for this congress to take a stand.  It's time to step up. I ask my colleagues to support this resolution. It is the first step in bringing the troops home.

Madam Speaker, I yield the balance of my time.

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