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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Strategy for Iraq

August 5, 2009
Floor Statement
Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA]: Mr. Speaker, last night the President reiterated his plans to send more troops to Iraq, despite bipartisan opposition in Congress and the opposition of most Americans.

Iraq is in a civil war. The violence that plagues Iraq is increasing, and our troops are caught in the middle of Iraqi sectarian violence. We have lost 3,032 of our brave men and women in this war.

Mr. Speaker and Members, despite the fact that the President talks about his surge, or what we know it to be, an expansion, we have to remember, these are not new boots on the ground. These tours are being extended. These tours are being extended, and some of our men and women in the military are being asked to extend their tours two and three times. They are also shortening the length of time that these soldiers have at home. Many of them, who have been on two tours and expect to go home and spend a little time with their families, are being told, no, you won't be able to spend the time that you thought you were going to be able to spend. You have got to come back after having been home a shorter period of time. Even the National Guard. They are now eliminating the limitations on how many times they can be called up for Active Duty. So these are not new boots on the ground.

As the Iraq Study Group noted in its report, "Attacks against U.S. coalition and Iraqi security forces are persistent and growing. Total attacks in October 2006 averaged 180 per day, up from 70 per day in January 2006. Daily attacks against Iraqi security forces in October were more than double the level in January. Attacks against civilians in October were four times higher than in January. Some 3,000 Iraqi civilians are killed every month."

The United Nations estimated that more than 34,000 civilians were violently killed across Iraq in 2006, with an average of 94 killed every day.

The U.S. Department of Defense claims that the number of Iraqis that are trained and equipped is increasing each month. In fact, they claim that there are almost 300,000 Iraqis trained.

However, our troops are in a difficult situation, and they cannot trust many of those who serve in Iraq's security forces. For example, American troops often complain that Iraqi police and soldiers tip off the targets of raids ahead of time. American troops also say that Iraqis flee during some of the security operations. It is also reported that the Iraqi desertion rate is high among those who serve in Iraqi security forces. Sending more U.S. troops to Iraq will only put more of them at risk.

Mr. Speaker, and Members, I am worried. I am worried that our Nation, our Commander in Chief is on the path to confrontation with al-Sadr and al-Sadr City, and I believe that this is going to be disastrous.

First of all, I don't trust Maliki, who is friends with al-Sadr. Remember when the President of the United States went to Jordan to meet with Maliki, he was stopped from going into that meeting by al-Sadr. He finally did meet before he left Jordan, but that was an exercise of power by al-Sadr. And I don't want this confrontation.

There are over 50,000 Iraqis in that militia, and I don't want our soldiers, with so-called Iraqi soldiers working with them, fighting with us, who may desert them, who may tip them off, to confront this militia. I want our soldiers out of there before it happens.

On Saturday, I will be marching with Representative Lynn Woolsey and thousands of other Americans who want to end this war and bring our troops home. The rally that is going to be held here in Washington, D.C., will attract millions, and we will send a clear message to President Bush and his administration that we have had enough. It is time to bring our troops home, and it is time to use diplomacy to stabilize Iraq and the Middle East region.

Mr. Speaker, and Members, we have Members of Congress who voted to support the Commander in Chief. They voted to go into this war. But many of them are saying to us today, if they had known then what they know now, they never would have taken that vote to send our troops into that war.

Of course, we don't have to say it, but we must remind people over and over again, there were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no reason for us to go into Iraq. We have destabilized Iraq. We are destabilizing the entire Middle East, and we cannot win with this strategy that the President has employed.

And I would simply say to my colleagues, please do everything you can to help get us out.  

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