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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

The Iraq War

August 5, 2009
Floor Statement
Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA]: Mr. Speaker and Members, tonight the President of the United States will address a joint session of Congress to offer his assessment of the state of the Union. He is expected to spend a lot of time talking about domestic issues and will reportedly spend some time on the war on terror. However, very little, if any, of his State of the Union address will discuss the war in Iraq.

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States has bungled the management of this war, and he certainly needs to explain further why he feels that escalation will suddenly turn the situation in Iraq around. The reality is that escalation will not bring us success. The President pushed forward against the advice of many Members of Congress, the joint chiefs of staff, and many experts in and outside of government. Even the Iraqi Prime Minister did not want more U.S. troops sent to his country.

Since Friday, January 19, 2007, 27 members of our armed services have died in Iraq. These deaths bring the total number of U.S. servicemembers that have died in Iraq since the war in Iraq began to 3,029. More than 22,000 others have been seriously injured.

The insurgent attacks against the United States military have become more and more brazen. In one of the attacks over the past weekend, insurgents wore uniforms that looked like official U.S. uniforms and used vehicles that the U.S. and Iraqi officials use. According to press accounts, Iraqi guards at a government compound allowed several vehicles traveling in a caravan through checkpoints because they were wearing what appeared to be legitimate U.S. military uniforms and driving cars commonly used by foreigners. Once the insurgents were inside the compound, they attacked and killed five of our troops. Witnesses say that the attackers targeted only U.S. servicemembers and not the Iraqis who were in the room. Elsewhere in Iraq, 12 Americans were killed when their Blackhawk helicopter was attacked, and 10 others were killed in fire fights with insurgents.

Mr. Speaker, Iraq is in a civil war. The level of violence is growing each day, and increasingly our troops are caught in the middle of it. By adding more troops, as the President plans to do, we will only increase the risk of more U.S. deaths and injuries.

Nearly everyone agrees that the war will not be won through military means. Instead, there is general agreement that stability in Iraq and the Middle East will only come about through intense diplomatic efforts.

The President's Iraq policy has failed. Sending more troops to Iraq will only make the situation worse. As the saying goes: when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Mr. President, I would urge you to stop digging and bring our troops home.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what bothers me about what is happening in Iraq. Our military, our troops don't know a Sunni from a Shiite from a Kurd. They are with Iraqi soldiers who don't like them oftentimes, who desert us when there is a confrontation, and who undermine us. There are those who believe that the way that the insurgents got into the compound was they were allowed in there by Iraqi soldiers.

How can we win in the middle of a civil war? We can't win. It is time for the President of the United States to come up with a reasonable exit plan. We have not asked, and nobody is saying, Quick withdrawal. Withdrawal in 24 hours. Some would make you believe we are saying that, but we are not. We are talking about a well thought through reasonable plan for getting out of Iraq. Some people would like to say, Oh, if you don't continue to support the President's request for additional funds, that you are deserting the soldiers. Not so.

And the Members of this Congress have got to have the courage to stand up and explain the difference between the sound bites and what those on the opposite side of this issue would describe as our efforts of getting the soldiers out and the truth. The truth of the matter is we all know there is enough money in the pipeline to credibly come out of Iraq in a timely way.

Click here to see a video clip of the speech.

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