WASHINGTON—House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) today delivered the following remarks on the House floor during the opening minutes of debate on the Democrats’ Iraq resolution:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to this resolution. General Petraeus said a resolution like this would discourage the troops, and the Secretary of Defense said a resolution like this would embolden the enemy. This Congress should be doing neither of these things.
“What this resolution will not do is take a position on what we should do as we face the challenge of our generation.
“President Johnson was criticized a generation ago and still today for choosing bombing sites in Vietnam. He was the Commander in Chief; yet he should have left those tactical choices to the military. But his actions made infinitely more sense than this. It’s hard to imagine a group less capable of making tactical decisions about specific troop deployment than 535 Members of Congress.
“The resolution today is about the exact number of troops. Will the one tomorrow or next week be a vote on which block in Baghdad to target or which car to stop?
“And, of course, today what we debate is a tactic in the greater fight we are in. The new Commanding General has determined this surge is the right course of action. The Iraq Study Group was supportive of ‘a short term redeployment or surge of American combat forces to stabilize Baghdad, or to speed up the training and equipping mission, if the U.S. commander in Iraq determines that such steps would be effective.’
“Mr. Speaker, we can all agree that the current situation in Iraq cannot continue. That is why the president has advanced a new way forward.
“Actions do have consequences. But the resolution the Democrats advance today is a vote for the status quo. It’s a vote for the current strategy because it’s a vote not to change strategy.
“The current strategy isn’t working, and as a Southwest Missourian told me yesterday: ‘We are there.’ He went on to say, ‘It really doesn’t matter how we got there or what we thought. We are in a fight that won’t stop if we leave.’
“The fact of the matter is that Congress does have the power to end the war – if it has the political will to do so.
“Almost twenty-four years ago, in November 1983, the Congress voted for withdrawal from Lebanon by March of 1984. Many of the proponents of today’s resolution voted then to leave. They lost 153 to 274, but the message was sent, and we left anyway, and when we left, the myth of American weakness began to take hold in al Qaeda.
“The language of this non-binding resolution doesn’t tackle the tough issues of war. It tries to have it both ways: disapproving the tactics but supporting the troops. It doesn’t say we will fund the troops in the future or not fund the troops. It doesn’t say we will supply troops in the future or not supply the troops. This resolution says just enough to not say anything at all.
“Americans should see this move for what it really is – a political first step to cutting off funding for the dangerous mission our troops face.
“The truth is we are in a war against a hostile and ferocious enemy that will stop at nothing. Imagine how this debate this week bolsters these radical terrorists whose sole goal is to destroy America because we disprove, as no society ever has, the dogma of religious totalitarianism that they use every day to recruit followers and funders and suicide bombers.
“Our diversity, our ability to live together, and the prosperity and vitality that are the result have produced the enemies we face today. As long as we live as we do, they must be wrong.
“This week, this Congress will send the signal to those enemies, and to those who fight to protect us from them, that America has the will and indeed the courage to continue fighting these Islamic totalitarians --- or that we do not take the consequences of failure seriously.”
# # #