In his speech Monday, the Majority Leader described the several steps that this new strategy for Iraq would entail. Its first step, he said, is to "transition the U.S. mission away from policing a civil war" . . .
What does this actually mean? To begin with, it means that our troops will not be allowed to protect the Iraqi people from the insurgents and militias who are trying to terrorize and kill them. Instead of restoring basic security, which General Petraeus has argued should be the central focus of any counterinsurgency campaign, it means our soldiers would instead be ordered, by force of this proposed law, not to stop the sectarian violence happening all around them—no matter how vicious or horrific it becomes.
In short, it means telling our troops to deliberately and consciously turn their backs on ethnic cleansing, to turn their backs on the slaughter of innocent civilians. . . .This makes no moral sense at all. It also makes no strategic or military sense either.
Al Qaeda's own leaders have repeatedly said that one of the ways they intend to achieve victory in Iraq is to provoke civil war. They are trying to kill as many people as possible today, precisely in the hope of igniting sectarian violence, because they know that this is their best way to collapse Iraq's political center, overthrow Iraq's elected government, radicalize its population, and create a failed state in the heart of the Middle East that they can use as a base. . . .
The suggestion that we can draw a bright legislative line between stopping terrorists in Iraq and stopping civil war in Iraq flies in the face of this reality. . . .
In sum, you can't have it both ways. You can't withdraw combat troops from Iraq and still fight Al Qaeda there. . . . So I ask advocates of withdrawal: on what evidence, on what data, have you concluded that pulling U.S. troops out will weaken the insurgency, when every single experience we have had since 2003 suggests that this legislation will strengthen it? . . .
In his remarks earlier this week, the Majority Leader observed that there is "a large and growing population of millions—who sit precariously on the fence. They will either condemn or contribute to terrorism in the years ahead. We must convince them of the goodness of America and Americans. We must win them over."
On this, I completely agree with my friend from Nevada. My question to him, however, and to the supporters of this legislation, is this: how does the strategy you propose in this bill possibly help win over this population of millions in Iraq, who sit precariously on the fence?
What message, I ask, does this legislation announce to those people in Iraq? How will they respond when we tell them that we will no longer make any effort to protect them against insurgents and death squads? How will they respond when we declare that we will be withdrawing our forces—regardless of whether they make progress in the next six months towards political reconciliation? . . .Do my friends really believe that this is the way to convince Iraqis, and the world, of the goodness of America and Americans? Does anyone in this chamber really believe that, by announcing a date certain for withdrawal, we will empower Iraqi moderates, or enable Iraq's reconstruction, or open more schools for their children, or more hospitals for their families, or freedom for everyone?
Mr. President, with all due respect, this is fantasy.