Crowley Says No to “Surge” and “Escalation”

Here’s Congressman Joe Crowley’s prepared statement on the House resolution opposing the troop increase in Iraq:

“Whether or not my colleagues want to refer to the president’s plan as a surge or escalation, I see it as a target on the backs of our armed forces.”

His full remarks are after the jump.

– Azi Paybarah

Escalation Will Not Work

Mr. Chairman, I rise to speak out in strong opposition to President Bush’s misguided escalation of troops in the Iraq war and to commend the Democratic leadership for holding a real debate on our involvement in Iraq.

Since January 3rd when Speaker Pelosi took the gavel, the Democratic Majority has delivered on its pledge of oversight and accountability of this misguided war in Iraq and Democrats have changed the direction of the discussion and this war, to lead us to the ultimate goal of all Americans, to bring our troops home.

For too long Congress has taken a backseat on the Presidents handling of this war, but this majority has held more hearings on Iraq than the Republican controlled Congress did since the war began.

This debate is not about trying to embarrass the President for political purposes, we are debating the escalation because the American people have demanded a change in direction.

The President has failed to recognize the will of the people and many of the top military and foreign policy thinkers around the country who view his escalation with little hope of success.

Our constituents spoke with their vote on Election Day and have been even more vocal since about their dissatisfaction with the way this war has been managed.

Many in this country want to see a de-escalation of Americans forces not the increase the President has proposed.

The President and his advisors created this problem and it is now on the Congress to find a way to disengage from Iraq without causing the country and the region to be engulfed in a further outbreak of violence.

In the last week, we have seen some of the most horrific bombings that cost the lives of hundreds of Iraqis and the downing of several U.S. helicopters.

Over 3000 young American men and women have lost their lives, tens of thousands have been physically and mentally maimed, and hundreds of thousands Iraqi citizens, the vast majority of them trying to lead normal lives, have been killed or injured. This is not how this war was supposed to turn out.

False Intelligence Was Pretext for Invading Iraq

Four years ago when this President came to Congress for authorization to invade Iraq, he stated that Iraq posed a clear and present danger. He talked about how invading Iraq was part of the greater war on terror and how if Saddam Hussein was not toppled, he would attack our allies and maybe even our own soil. After seeing the death and destruction Al-Qaeda did to my city on 9/11 and to our Nation, I wanted to trust our President and all the President’s men and women. When I sat across the table from Condoleezza Rice, CIA Director George Tenet, I thought I could trust them.

Because of them and that false intelligence I voted for authorizing this war. As the only Member of this Congress to lose a close relative on 9/11 and as someone who lost over 125 constituents to the attacks at the Twin Towers, I do believe that America must always act to defeat threats before those threats attack us.

As they say in life there are no do-overs. And if I could turn back time, I and I would hazard to guess all 434 of my colleagues in this House today, would have never given this President this authority, to wage this war in Iraq.

This war has cost us a fortune from our national treasury, a fortune in American lives lost and ruined a fortune in our ability as a Congress to trust our President.

Today we have an opportunity to stand as a group and to say what our constituents want us to say, to say what the Army Generals want us to say and to say what many of the men and women in uniform whose lives are on the front lines want us to say, Mr. President adding more troops is not an answer. Adding more troops to fight in what has become a civil war is not the answer. The answer is we need to start bringing our troop’s home, reducing our presence in Iraq, and create the conditions for the Iraqi people themselves to stand up and secure their own country.

Immediate Redeployment of US Forces to Iraqi Borders and Kurdish Areas,

US Troops out of combat in Baghdad and Anbar Province

The Iraq Study Group set out a plan that many of us support, but the President continues to believe that history will judge him favorably.

As the Iraqi government attempts to clamp down on the Shia and Sunni militias, it has become abundantly clear these forces are not as strong as we have been led to believe.

I believe we need to look strongly at re-deploying our troops in Iraq along the border, and in the Kurdish north, and removing American citizens from harms way in Baghdad and Anbar province, and forcing the Iraqis both politically and militarily to secure these areas. US troops should only be in an advisory role, not in direct combat in these major flashpoints.

Broader Regional and International Diplomacy Is Needed

Only when the violence stops should the US in small numbers work with Iraqi and multi-national forces in keeping the peace, building the military infrastructure and securing long term stability.

Right now, with the exception of Great Britain and few other countries we are doing all the work, taking all the risk and losing our best and our brightest while the Iraqis lay waste to their country.

It is time for us to get back to our roots and be the beacon of freedom and democracy that we are.

We need to increase our conversations with the moderate Arabs states and get them invested before Iraq and possible the whole region is at war.

The focus should be making sure that countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia are not funding Sunni and Shia extremists respectively.

Diplomacy is not the end all fix, but it’s a start.

Whether or not my colleagues want to refer to the Presidents plan as a surge or escalation, I see it as a target on the backs of our armed forces.

This resolution clearly states the House does not support the escalation but we will not abandon the safety of our troops by cutting off the supplies they need for force protection.

I do not support this escalation.

Instead of bringing our troops home President Bush has decided to put even more of our overburdened arm forces in an increasingly sectarian bloodbath.

Our country has been asking for answers to why our men and women of the armed forces continue to die in Iraq and we have not received any answers.

Until these answers are forthcoming, I will not support the Presidents escalation and I wholeheartedly support this resolution.

Thank you.