Congressman Scott Calls for New Direction, Real Security for America
Sep 19 -
Congressman David Scott (D-GA) delivered the following remarks this evening on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives:
Thank you very much, Mr. Schiff. Of course, it is great to be here with you again, and my good friend Chris Van Hollen from Maryland. He is a tremendous advocate for national security. I have enjoyed his opening remarks and very thought-provoking remarks. And certainly it is always good to be on the floor with our leader, Steny Hoyer, who has long been a champion of national security. That is certainly the issue today.
This is the issue that is on the minds of the American people. This is prime time, national security. We have got to make sure the American people not only feel safe, but we guarantee that they are safe. We have the capacity to do that.
As I stand here, I was observing the remarks earlier about the contributions that the great State of Maryland and all of our great States have made to our strong defense and national security, and certainly I am proud to say that Georgia, my State, is certainly at the head of the list on that as well.
I stand here on the shoulders of some great folks who have been strong on national security and helped to secure this country and make us the superior military power that we are, men like Senator Sam Nunn and Senator Richard Russell from my fine State of Georgia. I stand here on the shoulders of those great Democratic leaders who have led the way.
I want to start my remarks off, because I think today will go down in history as a very profound day, starting with the United Nations. Today presented some very interesting pictures as we watched television. Two speeches, of course, stand out on this day.
I don't think I can remember in history when the President of the United States addressed the United Nations, but yet one of our chief adversaries, one of which he labeled one of the ``axis of evil,'' the President of Iran, Ahmadinejad, came in prime time, while the President spoke earlier, not in prime time.
I am wondering how we got to this point? Where did this president of Iran come from? Five years ago we had never heard of him. Certainly I hadn't. But here he is at the United Nations, in fact upstaging our President. If I were working at the White House, I certainly would not have allowed the President of the United States to be over there on the same day. I felt that was very, very interesting.
It might do us a little good to understand how we got to this point, and the way we do that, I think, is to start off this discussion by clearly pointing out to the American people something that they are gradually beginning to see, and that is this, that we are fighting two distinct wars; one war is on terror, the other war is in Iraq.
One war is of necessity. It was necessary. That is the war on terror, which is where we went into Afghanistan to go after the terrorist organization that attacked us on 9/11. That was a war of necessity, and we went there because that is where the enemy was that attacked us. That is where al Qaeda was. That is where bin Laden was, on that border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We got the support of NATO and we got the support of the government of Afghanistan, with their help, and we went in there.
But then we went into Iraq, and we went into Iraq on a lot of manufactured, now we know the truth, incomplete information, maybe false information, perhaps even manipulated information. Those are the facts. That is what is out there. But, nonetheless, we went into Iraq in a war of choice.
Now we need to do a cost-benefit analysis, which brings me to the point I wanted to get to earlier, to segue back in, to show these two connecting points of what happened today, where the President of the United States is upstaged by the President of Iran, a president we did not even know about 5 years ago.
But when you do the cost-benefit analysis on the war of choice, which is the war in Iraq, not the war on terror, which is the war of necessity in Afghanistan, and do a cost-benefit analysis, in other words, look at our cost: 2,600 soldiers, men and women who gave their lives, who were killed; nearly 20,000 wounded; over $600 billion expended at a rate of $3 billion every week. That is the cost.
Who benefited? Who benefited? Who benefited? Iraq. When we went into Afghanistan, although we went in on the war on terror, we went after the Taliban, doing, again, Iraq's bidding. That was their enemy.
When we went into Iraq, without question the chief beneficiary of that was Iran. They were the beneficiaries, because Saddam Hussein was their worst blood enemy. We did the dirty work for Iran. On the other account, we established a Shia regime there, a Shia government in Iraq. That, again, was a benefit to Iran. They were able to control that.
The other thing, all the while we are doing this, they are busy developing their nuclear capacity so that now that they have the nuclear capacity, again, a checkmate and a benefit for Iraq.
So that now my point is simply that because of some of our policies, most definitely going into Iraq, the major beneficiary of our going into Iraq is Iran, which now is boosted on the stage and is here this day, in this country, at the United Nations, giving a speech. And here is a man who is the sponsor of the very terrorist organization that controlled the Lebanon situation, as well as the Hamas, which controls the Palestinian.
All I am simply saying is our national security policies, our foreign policies have had a devastating impact, and that when we do the cost/benefit analysis, it certainly benefits Iraq. It has taken us away from pursuing the goal of finding and decapitating the head of the mastermind of the terrorist organization that came to destroy us.
That is why the American people are beginning to see this differentiation, and we are not going to be able to find our way out of this unless we finally do so we can understand exactly what this situation in Iraq is doing, and like you, we are not standing here just talking. We are standing here explaining how we earnestly feel as Americans, strong, patriotic Americans, who care about this country, and who resent the President of the United States saying that anytime we question that, we are not patriotic. We are doing our duty that the American people sent us up here to do to raise these important issues.
We cannot stay the course, not this course. Sixty-three percent of the American people say they want a new direction. It is up to Democrats to provide that direction.
The other issue which concerns me is the state of our military. Not only must we explain to the American people and help to dramatize and explain clearly and show how we are dealing with two distinct wars, one of necessity, one of choice, but the drain on the military, we have got to correct that. Our military is in a draining state. We are not meeting our recruiting goals. We are on two and three tours of duty there.
We are in a terrible hole in Iraq, and we have got to extricate ourselves out of it. The challenge is to do so with yet the dignity and the respect that we must do so to honor the sacrifice of our men and women who have given their lives there, while at the same time putting the responsibility on the Iraqis themselves to manifest their destiny. They want democracy. We cannot shove it at them with a gun. They have to feel it in their soul. They have to go forward and grab it. That is not happening, and that is what we have to do to get this moving forward in a way that gives the respect to our military who have given their lives there.
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