Congress Must Act Now to End Bush's Failed War in Iraq
Four years ago, President Bush issued a challenge to the Iraqi insurgents. He said, "There are some who feel like that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on."
In the four years since he uttered those unfortunate words, it has become clear that what many of us said before the invasion was true: that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; that there was no connection between Iraq and al Qaeda and that the case for going to war was false.
It has also become clear that there was no plan to stabilize the country after the invasion, and there was no exit strategy. Since President Bush uttered those words, 3,380 U.S. troops have died in Iraq and more than 23,000 have been wounded, not to mention the countless Iraqi deaths and injuries. After spending more than $400 billion on the invasion and occupation, U.S. troops are now in the position of refereeing an Iraqi civil war. Our troops' presence in Iraq has become a rallying point for terrorist recruitment and fund-raising, a development that makes our country and the world less safe.
Last November, the American people sent a clear message that they wanted an end to the occupation. In January, against the will of the American people and the advice of our military commanders, the President decided to escalate the conflict in Iraq and subsequently vetoed Congressional efforts to establish a timeline for bringing our troops home.
Now, despite the fact that the escalation has failed to change the security situation on the ground, the administration wants to extend the occupation indefinitely, saying that they envision a United States military presence in Iraq similar to that "we have in South Korea," where American troops have been stationed for more than 50 years.
It is time to end the President's failed policy in Iraq and bring our troops home. We know the President is not going to do it, so Congress is going to have to act.
When Congress last took up the question of funding for the occupation, some members supported efforts to end the occupation by fully funding withdrawal, which would have provided the funds to do only two things: to protect our troops, and bring them home within six months.
In September, the President will ask Congress for another emergency supplemental spending bill, another blank check to continue his failed policy indefinitely. When that time comes, Congress should appropriate the funds to protect our troops and bring them home. We should fully fund withdrawal.
This month, the House will take up other legislation aimed at changing course in Iraq and bringing the occupation to an end, including legislation to prevent permanent military bases in Iraq, to set a timeline for redeployment and to stop war profiteering.
Representatives need to know what their constituents think about these issues. Call your member of Congress and let him or her know that you support ending the occupation. It's time to bring our troops home.
U. S. Rep. Barbara Lee is a Democrat from California and a guest commentator for the Black Press.