Congressman Steve Kagen, M.D. spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives last night about our nation’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Everyone will agree that we must do whatever it takes to protect America and keep hostilities from our shores.
Over time, we will also come to understand that religious fundamentalism is civilization’s real enemy – no matter if it is disguised in Muslim, Judeo-Christian, Hindu, Sikh or any other religious clothing. Terrorism is not really the enemy, for violent extremists simply use terrorism as a tactic.
Overcoming the violent extremists will require skilled and talented police work, as coordinated between all civilized nations, not only our mutual military might. And we must continue to hunt, capture and prosecute violent extremists wherever they seek to establish themselves, sharing the expense of doing so with all our friends, especially those in NATO.
Most importantly throughout this process, we must continue to defend ourselves within the laws set forth in our Constitution.
We are still paying for the poor judgments of the previous administration, which in 2003 placed our children in the middle of a centuries-old religious civil war in Iraq, when in fact our invasion of Iraq was not necessary. By continuing to spend millions of our hard-earned tax dollars over there, we are unable to solve our own problems here at home. The truth about Iraq is this: no weapons of mass destruction were present in Iraq, and Al-Qaeda extremists were not based there before President Bush convinced Congress to go to war.
And remember this: Iraq was not involved in attacks against America – and did not pose a risk to our national security, and it was not a danger to our national security.
We all have the same goal: to support our troops before, during, and after being in harms way as we build a safer and more secure nation.
Recent testimony before Congress by our military leaders has made it clear that there is no purely military solution in either Iraq or in Afghanistan, only a political one. We must, therefore, move our troops away from Iraq, focusing again upon al-Qaeda.
Tonight, here in the House floor, we will discuss our ongoing involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which for centuries has been the grave yard of invading empires, a place where our nation’s most precious resources, our soldiers, are presently engaged in efforts to, as President Obama has stated, “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its safe havens in Pakistan, and to prevent their return to Pakistan or Afghanistan.”
I am grateful that President Obama has taken time to listen, and trust he will design a strategy that has as its first goal the safe return of all our troops as soon as possible – for there is no purely military solution to the complex global problems we face today.
And as history has proven, making war is our worst human failure.”