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Ed Kennedy: Iraq War Black Hole

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    The U.S. military presence has become part of the problem, not part of the solution. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) The Administration told us the
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2005
      "The U.S. military presence has become part of the problem, not part
      of the solution."

      Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.)

      The Administration told us the financial costs would be paid with
      Iraqi oil dollars, but it is being paid with billions of American
      tax dollars. Another $80 billion bill for the black hole that Iraq
      has become has just been handed to the American people.

      Real Audio and Transcript.

      Sen. Edward Kennedy Spoke About Future Strategy for Iraq at SAIS on
      January 27, 2005


      Thank you Dr. Fukuyama for that generous introduction.

      I'm honored to be here at the School of Advanced International
      Studies. Many of the most talented individuals in foreign policy
      have benefited from your outstanding graduate program, and I welcome
      the opportunity to meet with you on the issue of Iraq.

      Forty years ago, America was in another war in a distant land. At
      that time, in 1965, we had in Vietnam the same number of troops and
      the same number of casualties as in Iraq today.

      We thought in those early days in Vietnam that we were winning. We
      thought the skill and courage of our troops was enough. We thought
      that victory on the battlefield would lead to victory in the war,
      and peace and democracy for the people of Vietnam.

      We lost our national purpose in Vietnam. We abandoned the truth. We
      failed our ideals. The words of our leaders could no longer be

      In the name of a misguided cause, we continued the war too long. We
      failed to comprehend the events around us. We did not understand
      that our very presence was creating new enemies and defeating the
      very goals we set out to achieve. We cannot allow that history to
      repeat itself in Iraq.

      We must learn from our mistakes. We must recognize what a large and
      growing number of Iraqis now believe. The war in Iraq has become a
      war against the American occupation.

      We have reached the point that a prolonged American military
      presence in Iraq is no longer productive for either Iraq or the
      United States. The U.S. military presence has become part of the
      problem, not part of the solution.

      We need a serious course correction, and we need it now. We must
      make it for the American soldiers who are paying with their lives.
      We must make it for the American people who cannot afford to spend
      our resources and national prestige protracting the war in the wrong
      way. We must make it for the sake of the Iraqi people who yearn for
      a country that is not a permanent battlefield and for a future free
      from permanent occupation.

      The elections in Iraq this weekend provide an opportunity for a
      fresh and honest approach. We need a new plan that sets fair and
      realistic goals for self-government in Iraq, and works with the
      Iraqi government on a specific timetable for the honorable
      homecoming of our forces.

      The first step is to confront our own mistakes. Americans are
      rightly concerned about why our 157,000 soldiers are there -- when
      they will come home -- and how our policy could have gone so wrong.

      No matter how many times the Administration denies it, there is no
      question they misled the nation and led us into a quagmire in Iraq.
      President Bush rushed to war on the basis of trumped up intelligence
      and a reckless argument that Iraq was a critical arena in the global
      war on terror, that somehow it was more important to start a war
      with Iraq than to finish the war in Afghanistan and capture Osama
      bin Laden, and that somehow the danger was so urgent that the U.N.
      weapons inspectors could not be allowed time to complete their
      search for weapons of mass destruction.

      As in Vietnam, truth was the first casualty of this war. Nearly 1400
      Americans have died. More than 10,000 have been wounded, and tens of
      thousands of Iraqi men, women, and children have been killed. The
      weapons of mass destruction weren't there, but today 157,000
      Americans are.

      As a result of our actions in Iraq, our respect and credibility
      around the world have reached all-time lows. The President bungled
      the pre-war diplomacy on Iraq and wounded our alliances. The
      label "coalition of the willing" cannot conceal the fact that
      American soldiers make up 80% of the troops on the ground in Iraq
      and more than 90% of the casualties.

      The Administration also failed to prepare for the aftermath
      of "victory" – and so the post-war period became a new war, with
      more casualties, astronomical costs, and relentless insurgent

      The Administration failed to establish a basic level of law and
      order after Baghdad fell, and so massive looting occurred.

      The Administration dissolved the Iraqi army and dismissed its
      troops, but left their weapons intact and their ammunition dumps
      unguarded, and they have become arsenals of the insurgency.

      The Administration relied for advice on self-promoting Iraqi exiles
      who were out of touch with the Iraqi people and resented by them –
      and the result is an America regarded as occupier, not as liberator.

      The President recklessly declared "Mission Accomplished" when in
      truth the mission had barely begun. He and his advisors predicted
      and even bragged that the war would be a cakewalk, but the expected
      welcoming garlands of roses became an endless bed of thorns.

      The Administration told us the financial costs would be paid with
      Iraqi oil dollars, but it is being paid with billions of American
      tax dollars. Another $80 billion bill for the black hole that Iraq
      has become has just been handed to the American people.

      The cost is also being paid in shame and stain on America's good
      name as a beacon of human rights. Nothing is more at odds with our
      values as Americans than the torture of another human being. Do you
      think that any Americans tell their children with pride that America
      tortures prisoners? Yet, high officials in the Administration in
      their arrogance strayed so far from our heritage and our belief in
      fundamental human decency that they approved the use of torture—and
      they were wrong, deeply wrong, to do that.

      The Administration's willful disregard of the Geneva Conventions led
      to the torture and flagrant abuse of the prisoners at Guantanamo and
      Abu Ghraib and that degradation has diminished America in the eyes
      of the whole world. It has diminished our moral voice on the planet.

      Never in our history has there been a more powerful, more painful
      example of the saying that those who do not learn from history are
      condemned to repeat it.

      The tide of history rises squarely against military occupation. We
      ignore this truth at our peril in Iraq.

      The nations in the Middle East are independent, except for Iraq,
      which began the 20th century under Ottoman occupation and is now
      beginning the 21st century under American occupation.

      Iraq could very well be another Algeria, where the French won the
      military battle for Algiers, but ultimately lost the political
      battle for Algeria.

      Despite the clear lesson of history, the President stubbornly clings
      to the false hope that the turning point is just around the corner.

      The ending of the rule of Saddam Hussein was supposed to lessen
      violence and bring an irresistible wave of democracy to the Middle
      East. It hasn't. Saddam Hussein's capture was supposed to quell the
      violence. It didn't. The transfer of sovereignty was supposed to be
      the breakthrough. It wasn't. The military operation in Fallujah was
      supposed to break the back of the insurgency. It didn't.

      The 1400 Americans killed in Iraq and the 10,000 American casualties
      are the equivalent of a full division of our Army – and we only have
      ten active divisions.

      The tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed last year included
      nearly a thousand members of the new Iraqi security forces, and a
      hundred more have been lost this year. The recent killing of a
      senior Iraqi judge was the 170th assassination of an Iraqi official
      since June of 2003.

      We all hope for the best from Sunday's election. The Iraqis have a
      right to determine their own future. But Sunday's election is not a
      cure for the violence and instability. Unless the Sunni and all the
      other communities in Iraq believe they have a stake in the outcome
      and a genuine role in drafting the new Iraqi constitution, the
      election could lead to greater alienation, greater escalation, and
      greater death – for us and for the Iraqis.

      In fact, the Central Intelligence Agency's top official in Baghdad
      warned recently that the security situation is deteriorating and is
      likely to worsen, with escalating violence and more sectarian
      clashes. How could any President have let this happen?

      General Brent Scowcroft, who until recently served as Chairman of
      President Bush's National Intelligence Advisory Board and who also
      served as the first President Bush's National Security Adviser,
      recently warned of an "incipient civil war" in Iraq. He said, "the
      [Iraqi] elections are turning out to be less about a promising
      transformation, and it has great potential for deepening the

      President Bush's Iraq policy is not, as he said during last fall's
      campaign, a "catastrophic success." It is a catastrophic failure.
      The men and women of our armed forces are serving honorably and with
      great courage under extreme conditions, but their indefinite
      presence is fanning the flames of conflict.

      The American people are concerned. They recognize that the war with
      Iraq is not worth the cost in American lives, prestige, and
      credibility. They understand that this misbegotten war has made
      America more hated in the world, created new breeding grounds and
      support for terrorists, and made it harder to win the real war
      against terrorism – the war against Al Qaeda and radical jihadist

      Conservative voices are alarmed as well. As Paul Weyrich, founder of
      the Heritage Foundation, said last November, we are "stuck in a
      guerrilla war with no end in sight."

      As former Coalition Provisional Authority adviser Larry Diamond
      recently said, "There is a fine line between Churchillian resolve
      and self-defeating obstinacy." We must recognize that line and end
      the obstinate policy of the Administration.

      A new Iraq policy must begin with acceptance of hard truths. Most of
      the violence in Iraq is not being perpetrated – as President Bush
      has claimed – by "a handful of folks that fear freedom" and "people
      who want to try to impose their will on people…just like Osama bin

      The war has made Iraq a magnet for terrorism that wasn't there
      before. President Bush has opened an unnecessary new front in the
      war on terror, and we are losing ground because of it. The CIA's own
      National Intelligence Council confirmed this assessment in its
      report two weeks ago.

      The insurgency is not primarily driven by foreign terrorists.
      General Abizaid, head of our Central Command, said last
      September, "I think the number of foreign fighters in Iraq is
      probably below 1,000…". According to the Department of Defense, less
      than two percent of all the detainees in Iraq are foreign nationals.

      The insurgency is largely home-grown. By our own government's own
      count, its ranks are large and growing larger. Its strength has
      quadrupled since the transfer of sovereignty six months ago –from
      5,000 in mid-2004, to 16,000 last October, to more than 20,000 now.
      The Iraqi intelligence service estimates that the insurgency may
      have 30,000 fighters and up to 200,000 supporters. It's clear that
      we don't know how large the insurgency is. All we can say with
      certainty is that the insurgency is growing.

      It is also becoming more intense and adaptable. The bombs are bigger
      and more powerful. The attacks have greater sophistication.

      Anthony Cordesman, the national security analyst for the Center for
      Strategic and International Studies, recently wrote: "There is no
      evidence that the number of insurgents is declining as a result of
      Coalition and Iraqi attacks to date."

      An Army Reservist wrote the stark truth: "The guerillas are filling
      their losses faster than we can create them…. For every guerilla we
      kill with a smart bomb, we kill many more innocent civilians and
      create rage and anger in the Iraqi community. This rage and anger
      translates into more recruits for the terrorists and less support
      for us." Our troops understand that. The American people understand
      it. And it's time the Administration understand it.

      Beyond the insurgency's numbers, it has popular and tacit support
      from thousands of ordinary Iraqis who are aiding and abetting the
      attacks as a rejection of the American occupation. It is fueled by
      the anger of ever-larger numbers of Iraqis – not just Saddam
      loyalists - who have concluded that the United States is either
      unable or unwilling to provide basic security, jobs, water,
      electricity and other services.

      Anti-American sentiment is steadily rising. CDs that picture the
      insurrection have spread across the country. Songs glorify
      combatants. Poems written decades ago during the British occupation
      after World War I are popular again.

      The International Crisis Group, a widely respected conflict
      prevention organization, recently reported, "These post-war failings
      gradually were perceived by many Iraqis as purposeful,… designed to
      serve Washington's interests to remain for a prolonged period in a
      debilitated Iraq."

      We have the finest military in the world. But we cannot rely
      primarily on military action to end politically inspired violence.
      We can't defeat the insurgents militarily if we don't effectively
      address the political context in which the insurgency flourishes.
      Our military and the insurgents are fighting for the same thing –
      the hearts and minds of the people – and that is a battle we are not

      The beginning of wisdom in this crisis is to define honest and
      realistic goals.

      First, the goal of our military presence should be to allow the
      creation of a legitimate, functioning Iraqi government, not to
      dictate it.

      Creating a full-fledged democracy won't happen overnight. We can and
      must make progress, but it may take many years for the Iraqis to
      finish the job. We have to adjust our time horizon. The process
      cannot begin in earnest until Iraqis have full ownership of that
      transition. Our continued, overwhelming presence only delays that

      If we want Iraq to develop a stable, democratic government, America
      must assist -- not control -- the newly established government.

      Unless Iraqis have a genuine sense that their leaders are not our
      puppets, the election cannot be the turning point the Administration

      To enhance its legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi people, the new
      Iraqi Government should begin to disengage politically from America,
      and we from them.

      The reality is that the Bush Administration is continuing to pull
      the strings in Iraq, and the Iraqi people know it. We picked the
      date for the transfer of sovereignty. We supported former CIA
      operative Iyad Allawi to lead the Interim Government. We wrote the
      administrative law and the interim constitution that now governs
      Iraq. We set the date for the election, and President Bush insisted
      that it take place, even when many Iraqis sought delay.

      It is time to recognize that there is only one choice. America must
      give Iraq back to the Iraqi people.

      We need to let the Iraqi people make their own decisions, reach
      their own consensus, and govern their own country.

      We need to rethink the Pottery Barn rule. America cannot forever be
      the potter that sculpts Iraq's future. President Bush broke Iraq,
      but if we want Iraq to be fixed, the Iraqis must feel that they, not
      we, own it.

      The Iraqi people are facing historic issues—the establishment of a
      government, the role of Islam, and the protection of minority

      The United States and the international community have a clear
      interest in a strong, tolerant and pluralistic Iraq, free from chaos
      and civil war.

      The United Nations, not the United States, should provide assistance
      and advice on establishing a system of government and drafting a
      constitution. An international meeting – led by the United Nations
      and the new Iraqi Government -- should be convened immediately in
      Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East to begin that process.

      For our part, America must accept that the Shiites will be the
      majority in whatever government emerges. Sixty percent of the
      population in Iraq is Shiite, and a Shiite majority is the logical
      outcome of a democratic process in Iraq.

      But the Shiites must understand that Iraq's stability and security
      will be achieved only by safeguarding minority rights. The door to
      drafting the Constitution and to serving in government must be left
      open -- even to those who were unwilling or unable or too terrified
      to participate in the elections.

      The Shiites must also understand that America's support is not open-
      ended and that America's role is not to defend an Iraqi government
      that excludes or marginalizes important sectors of Iraqi society. It
      is far too dangerous for the American military to take sides in a
      civil war.

      America must adjust to the reality that not all former Baathists
      will be excluded from Iraqi political life in the new Iraq. After
      the Iron Curtain fell in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, many
      former communists went on to participate in the political process.
      The current Polish President – a strong ally of President Bush in
      Iraq – is a former active member of the Communist Party who served
      under Poland's martial law government during the 1980's. If
      communists can change in this way, there is no reason why some
      former members of the Baath party cannot do so.

      If Iraqis wish to negotiate with insurgents who are willing to
      renounce their violence and join the political process, we should
      let them do so. Persuading Sunni insurgents to use the ballot, not
      the bullet, serves the interests of the Shiites too.

      Second, for democracy to take root, the Iraqis need a clear signal
      that America has a genuine exit strategy.

      The Iraqi people do not believe that America intends no long-term
      military presence in their country. Our reluctance to make that
      clear has fueled suspicions among Iraqis that our motives are not
      pure, that we want their oil, and that we will never leave. As long
      as our presence seems ongoing, America's commitment to their
      democracy sounds unconvincing.

      The President should do more to make it clear that America intends
      no long-term presence. He should disavow the permanence of our so-
      called "enduring" military bases in Iraq. He should announce that
      America will dramatically reduce the size of the American Embassy --
      the largest in the world.

      Once the elections are behind us and the democratic transition is
      under way, President Bush should immediately announce his intention
      to negotiate a timetable for a drawdown of American combat forces
      with the new Iraqi Government.

      At least 12,000 American troops and probably more should leave at
      once, to send a stronger signal about our intentions and to ease the
      pervasive sense of occupation.

      As Major General William Nash, who commanded the multinational force
      in Bosnia, said in November, a substantial reduction in our forces
      following the Iraqi election "would be a wise and judicious move" to
      demonstrate that we are leaving and "the absence of targets will go
      a long way in decreasing the violence."

      America's goal should be to complete our military withdrawal as
      early as possible in 2006.

      President Bush cannot avoid this issue. The Security Council
      Resolution authorizing our military presence in Iraq can be reviewed
      at any time at the request of the Iraqi Government, and it calls for
      a review in June. The U.N. authorization for our military presence
      ends with the election of a permanent Iraqi government at the end of
      this year. The world will be our judge. We must have an exit plan in
      force by then.

      While American troops are drawing down, we must clearly be prepared
      to oppose any external intervention in Iraq or the large-scale
      revenge killing of any group. We should begin now to conduct serious
      regional diplomacy with the Arab League and Iraq's neighbors to
      underscore this point, and we will need to maintain troops on bases
      outside Iraq but in the region.

      The United Nations could send a stabilization force to Iraq if it is
      necessary and requested by the Iraqi government. But any
      stabilization force must be sought by the Iraqis and approved by the
      United Nations, with a clear and achievable mission and clear rules
      of engagement. Unlike the current force, it should not consist
      mostly of Americans or be led by Americans. All nations of the world
      have an interest in Iraq's stability and territorial integrity.

      Finally, we need to train and equip an effective Iraqi security
      force. We have a year to do so before the election of the permanent
      Iraqi government.

      The current training program is in deep trouble, and Iraqi forces
      are far from being capable, committed, and effective. In too many
      cases, they cannot even defend themselves, and have fled at the
      first sign of battle.

      It is not enough to tell us—as the Administration has—how many
      Iraqis go through training. The problem is not merely the numbers.
      The essential question is how many are prepared to give their lives
      if necessary, for a future of freedom for their country.

      The insurgents have been skilled at recruiting Iraqis to participate
      in suicide attacks. But too often, the trained Iraqi forces do not
      have a comparable commitment to the Iraqi government. Recruits are
      ambivalent about America, unsure of the political transition, and
      skeptical about the credibility of their military and political
      institutions. The way to strengthen their allegiance is to give them
      a worthy cause to defend as soon as possible– a truly free,
      independent and sovereign Iraq.

      We now have no choice but to make the best we can of the disaster we
      have created in Iraq. The current course is only making the crisis
      worse. We need to define our objective realistically and redefine
      both our political and our military presence.

      President Bush has left us with few good choices. There are costs to
      staying, and costs to leaving. There may well be violence as we
      disengage militarily from Iraq and Iraq disengages politically from
      us. But there will be much more serious violence if we continue our
      present dangerous and reckless course. It will not be easy to
      extricate ourselves from Iraq, but we must begin.

      Error is no excuse for its own perpetuation. Mindless determination
      doesn't make a better outcome likely. Setting a firm strategy for
      withdrawal may not guarantee success, but not doing so will almost
      certainly guarantee failure. Casualties are increasing. America is
      tied down. Our military is stretched to the breaking point. Our
      capacity to respond to crises and threats elsewhere in the world has
      been compromised.

      The book of Proverbs in the Bible teaches us that, "Pride goes
      before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." It's time
      for President Bush to swallow his pride and end our country's
      continuing failures in Iraq and in the eyes of the world. When the
      President delivers the State of the Union Address next week, I hope
      he will demonstrate his intention to do that. The danger is very
      real that if he does not, our leadership in the world will be
      permanently lost. We cannot let that happen.

      There is a wiser course we can take in keeping with the best in our
      heritage and history –a course that will help America, at long last,
      to regain our rightful place of respect in the world and bring our
      troops home with honor. Let's take that course, and take it now.

      Thank you very much.

      In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful



      (WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/2/05) - CAIR today called on American Muslims
      and other people of conscience to thank Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
      and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for their principled stance against
      the use of torture in U.S. detention centers around the world.

      Kennedy raised the issue of torture during Senate debate yesterday
      on the nomination of Alberto R. Gonzales to be U.S. attorney
      general. He said:

      "Torture is contrary to all that we stand for as Americans. It
      violates our basic values. It is alien to our military's
      longstanding rules and traditions. We send our men and women in the
      Armed Services into battle to stop torture in other countries, not
      to participate in it themselves.

      "These values did not change, or become less relevant, after 9/11.
      Americans did not resolve to set aside our values, or the
      Constitution, after those vicious attacks. We didn't decide as a
      nation to stoop to the level of the terrorists.

      "To the contrary, Americans have been united in the belief that an
      essential part of winning the war on terrorism and protecting the
      country for the future is safeguarding the ideals and values that
      America stands for here at home and around the world."


      In her prepared remarks for the Senate debate, Sen. Feinstein
      said: "If there is a single issue that defines this confirmation
      process, it is what Judge Gonzales thinks about torture and brutal
      interrogation practices…For me, in addition to its clear legal and
      moral importance, the issue of torture became the main way for
      assessing the next Attorney General…"

      "We commend those courageous lawmakers who are taking a principled
      stand against torture and abuse of prisoners," said CAIR Executive
      Director Nihad Awad. "The nation and the world need to hear that our
      elected representatives reject this vile practice." Awad said polls
      indicate that the vast majority of Americans are against the use of
      torture in any circumstance.



      1. Please take a moment to thank Sens. Kenney and Feinstein for
      their principled stance against torture.

      Senator Dianne Feinstein
      United States Senate
      331 Hart Senate Office Building
      Washington, DC 20510
      Phone: (202) 224-3841
      Fax: (202) 228-3954
      E-Mail: http://feinstein.senate.gov/email.html

      Senator Edward M. Kennedy
      United States Senate
      315 Russell Senate Office Building
      Washington, DC 20510
      Phone: (202) 224-4543
      Fax: (202) 224-2417
      E-Mail: senator@...

      2. Other senators, including Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), are also
      addressing the issue of torture during the ongoing debate. Contact
      their offices as well, particularly if they represent your state.

      To e-mail Sen. Byrd, go to:

      To obtain contact information for other senators, go to:

      Copy all correspondence to CAIR at: cair@...



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