Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that by a vote of 246 to 182 the House of Representatives passed House Concurrent Resolution 63, disapproving of the decision of the President announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.
“For the past few days, the House has been debating this important resolution and today Congress is conveying a strong message to the President that we will continue to support our men and women in uniform who are serving in Iraq, but we disapprove of his decision to send more U.S. troops to Iraq,” Faleomavaega said.
“Cosponsored by Chairman Ike Skelton of the House Armed Services Committee, Chairman Tom Lantos of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and my good friend Republican Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina, the House Concurrent Resolution 63 states that ‘Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq, and Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007 to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.’”
“During yesterday’s debate on the House floor, I joined many of my colleagues in Congress in expressing my disagreement with the decision of our President and, today, I am pleased that 17 of my Republican colleagues stood strong with us in passing this bi-partisan resolution,” Faleomavaega concluded.
The full text of the Congressman’s statement is included below.
Mr. Speaker, I support House Concurrent Resolution 63, and I want to thank our chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Skelton); also, our chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos); and especially the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Jones), my good friend and colleague, as original cosponsors of this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf) and Mr. Richard Solomon of the United States Institute of Peace for their initiative and leadership to establish what is commonly known today as the Iraq Study Group, composed of nationally recognized leaders from both political parties, and co-chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Mr. Lee Hamilton.
The Iraq Study Group conducted for well over eight months a most comprehensive review, in my humble opinion, of the crisis that we are now faced with in Iraq, and I sincerely hope that in the weeks and months to come that we here in this body will review seriously its recommendations for a resolution to the conflict in Iraq.
Mr. Speaker, almost 5 years ago, as a member of the House International Relations Committee, I voted in support of the resolution which authorized our President to use military force against Saddam Hussein and his military regime, for the most critical reason presented by our President, our Vice President, our Secretary of Defense, and our National Security Adviser, that Saddam Hussein had in his possession supposedly nuclear weapons. Our Nation's own national security was severely at risk, imminent danger. These were the phrases that were used. And besides for other reasons, the nuclear issue was the linchpin, in my humble opinion, that convinced many of us on both sides of the aisle to approve the resolution to allow our President to wage war against Iraq.
Mr. Speaker, our Nation, and especially the American people, have now come to realize that Saddam Hussein never had in his possession nuclear weapons, due to faulty intelligence and misleading statements made by top officials of this administration in order to totally change the atmosphere to have the public believe that our number one public enemy was Saddam Hussein and not Osama bin Laden.
Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues, how in the world did we end up in Iraq and we have now caused more tension in the Middle East than ever before?
As I recalled, Mr. Speaker, our Nation was attacked by some 18 terrorists, 14 Saudi Arabians, one Egyptian, two from the United Arab Emirates, and one Lebanese, on September 11, 2001. None of these terrorists came from Iran or Iraq. Most of them were from Saudi Arabia, and they were members of a terrorist organization that we now know as al Qaeda, and the leader of this terrorist group is Osama bin Laden.
Our Nation was attacked on September 11, 2001. Most of the nations around the world not only sympathized with us but supported us, but the Congress gave authority to our President to go after Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization that was under the protective custody of the Taliban, which at the time controlled Afghanistan and certain parts of Pakistan.
It is critically important, I submit, Mr. Speaker, that our colleagues and the American people need to be reminded on what prompted our President, as Commander in Chief, and this Congress, what actions our Nation took after our country was attacked on September 11, 2001.
Our government leaders properly identified al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden as the perpetrators of the attacks on September 11, 2001, and our President and the Congress acted accordingly to summon our military forces to wage war against Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization that was under the protection of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Well, we got rid of the Taliban, and we were successful in establishing a democratic government for the people and the leaders of Afghanistan, but we did not, and I repeat we did not, complete our mission of either killing or capturing the leader who was responsible for the attack against our country on September 11, 2001.
The terrorist leader's name is Osama bin Laden, and after almost 6 years now, the most powerful country in the world militarily, Osama bin Laden still has not been killed or captured, let alone the fact that we did not complete our commitment in resources and force structure to sustain Afghanistan's newly established democratic government.
Now, there is a new escalation of Taliban presence in Afghanistan and its ability to wage military operations against us and our NATO allies, and the situation in Afghanistan is now becoming more like Iraq, needing more troops and resources to fight the Taliban again.
The critical question of why our country decided to wage war against Saddam Hussein is one that will be a matter of public debate for years to come, but suffice it to say, one, Saddam Hussein did not attack us on September 11, 2001. It was Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization that was based in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan.
Two, our President and his top officials had misled the American people and the Congress to state that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons. I honestly believe that this issue alone was the catalyst and what prompted Congress to give the President military authority to force Saddam Hussein to comply with U.N. resolutions and to also locate and destroy his alleged supply of nuclear weapons.
Three, we may have won the war in Iraq by eventually capturing Saddam Hussein, but we have caused more tension and conflict among the rival factions between the Shiites, comprised of 60 percent of this country's population of 26 million, and the Sunnis, which make up some 20 percent of the population, and the remainder the Kurds which, for the most part, is not involved in this conflict at this point in time.
I must include, Mr. Speaker, the name of former Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki as part of the debate and discussion, if you will. General Shinseki, in my mind, was among the first of our military leaders who, for making an honest statement as a professional soldier concerning the situation in Iraq, was publicly criticized and humiliated by civilian superiors within the Department of Defense.
In response to questions by members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Shinseki was asked how many troops it would require to take control of Iraq, and his response was something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers. Here was a soldier who fought and was wounded while engaged in combat in Vietnam, a most respected officer who served with honor and distinction for some 35 years in defense of our Nation. Needless to say, Mr. Speaker, I must say, General Shinseki's professional assessment of the mismanagement and ill-planning of this war in Iraq could not have been more accurate, given the sad state of affairs we find our country is in now when dealing with Iraq.
Mr. Speaker, the resolution before us is plain and simple. It is a clear statement to the American people and to the world that Congress absolutely supports the efforts of all the men and women who proudly serve in the Armed Forces of the United States. It also sends a very simple message to President Bush that his recent decision to send an additional number of some 20,000 troops to the war effort in Iraq is not going to change the serious security problems and the civil war that is now in place between the Sunni and the Shiite factions.
Mr. Speaker, we have fulfilled our mission, our military mission, by capturing Saddam Hussein who, of course, now recently was hung by the authorities with the new Iraq Government. It is up to the Iraq people and their leaders now to determine for themselves a political solution to the rights and privileges of the three major factions: the Sunnis, the Shiites and the Kurds.
It is a fact that 60 percent of the population in Iraq is Shiite. Prime Minister Maliki is a Shiite, and interestingly enough, the President is a Kurd.
Now the question is how and in what way the Sunnis are going to be part of this newly established government. And there is no denial, Mr. Speaker, that for the future the new government will be dominated by Shiites, an unintended consequence of our decision to wage war against Saddam Hussein, who was a member of the Sunni faction, which made up only 20 percent of the population of Iraq. But Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and the rest of the Muslim world is Sunni. Eighty-five percent of the Muslim world is Sunni, we have to understand that, and Iran and the Shiite factions in Iraq make up only 15 percent.
I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, and I want to quote again my good friend's quotation from Daniel Webster: God grants liberty to those who love it, but I say they must also be willing to die for it.
The civil war now taking place between the Sunnis and the Shiites is a war not for seeking liberty and freedom, but it is a religious war that has been going on for the past 1,400 years. There are never winners in religious wars, Mr. Speaker. And no force, not even the most powerful nation of this world is going to change the hearts and minds of the Sunnis and the Shiites unless they themselves do so willingly and do it in a political way.
Mr. Speaker, I honestly believe that our troops now there and an additional number of 20,000 more soldiers that President Bush has ordered for deployment in Iraq are going to get caught in the crossfire of the civil war that is now going on between the Sunnis and the Shiites, a war that can only be resolved only among the Iraqi factions themselves and not with our military presence there.
I urge my colleagues to support this resolution.