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Wise Words On Iraq – Sen. Gordon Smith

US Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) delivered a powerful speech on the floor of the Senate last week.  Here are some excerpts.  It is really great stuff and probably summarizes a lot about how I’m feeling these days, too.

When we came to the vote on Iraq, it was an issue of great moment for me. No issue is more difficult to vote on than war and peace, because it involves the lives of our soldiers, our young men and women. It involves the expenditure of our treasure, putting on the line the prestige of our country. It is not a vote taken lightly. I have tried to be a good soldier in this Chamber. I have tried to support our President, believing at the time of the vote on the war in Iraq that we had been given good intelligence and knowing that Saddam Hussein was a menace to the world, a brutal dictator, a tyrant by any standard, and one who threatened our country in many different ways, through the financing and fomenting of terrorism. For those reasons and believing that we would find weapons of mass destruction, I voted aye.

I have been rather silent on this question ever since. I have been rather quiet because, when I was visiting Oregon troops in Kirkuk in the Kurdish area, the soldiers said to me: Senator, don’t tell me you support the troops and not our mission. That gave me pause. But since that time, there have been 2,899 American casualties. There have been over 22,000 American men and women wounded. There has been an expenditure of $290 billion a figure that approaches the expenditure we have every year on an issue as important as Medicare. We have paid a price in blood and treasure that is beyond calculation by my estimation.

Now, as I witness the slow undoing of our efforts there, I rise to speak from my heart.

***

Many things have been attributed to George Bush. I have heard him on this floor blamed for every ill, even the weather. But I do not believe him to be a liar. I do not believe him to be a traitor, nor do I believe all the bravado and the statements and the accusations made against him. I believe him to be a very idealistic man. I believe him to have a stubborn backbone. He is not guilty of perfidy, but I do believe he is guilty of believing bad intelligence and giving us the same.

I can’t tell you how devastated I was to learn that in fact we were not going to find weapons of mass destruction. But remembering the words of the soldier–don’t tell me you support the troops but you don’t support my mission–I felt the duty to continue my support. Yet I believe the President is guilty of trying to win a short war and not understanding fully the nature of the ancient hatreds of the Middle East. Iraq is a European creation. At the Treaty of Versailles, the victorious powers put together Kurdish, Sunni, and Shia tribes that had been killing each other for time immemorial. I would like to think there is an Iraqi identity. I would like to remember the purple fingers raised high. But we can not want democracy for Iraq more than they want it for themselves. And what I find now is that our tactics there have failed.

***

Again, I am not a soldier, but I do know something about military history. And what that tells me is when you are engaged in a war of insurgency, you can’t clear and leave. With few exceptions, throughout Iraq that is what we have done. To fight an insurgency often takes a decade or more. It takes more troops than we have committed. It takes clearing, holding, and building so that the people there see the value of what we are doing. They become the source of intelligence, and they weed out the insurgents. But we have not cleared and held and built. We have cleared and left, and the insurgents have come back.

I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day. That is absurd. It may even be criminal. I cannot support that anymore. I believe we need to figure out how to fight the war on terror and to do it right. So either we clear and hold and build, or let’s go home.

What will continue to guide the way I vote is simply this: I do not believe we can retreat from the greater war on terror. Iraq is a battlefield in that larger war. But I do believe we need a presence there on the near horizon at least that allows us to provide intelligence, interdiction, logistics, but mostly a presence to say to the murderers that come across the border: We are here, and we will deal with you. But we have no business being a policeman in someone else’s civil war.

***

We were not prepared to win the peace by clearing, holding, and building. You don’t do that fast and you don’t do it with too few troops. I believe now that we must either determine to do that, or we must redeploy in a way that allows us to continue to prosecute the larger war on terror. It will not be pretty. We will pay a price in world opinion. But I, for one, am tired of paying the price of 10 or more of our troops dying a day. So let’s cut and run, or cut and walk, or let us fight the war on terror more intelligently than we have, because we have fought this war in a very lamentable way.

The only thing I would add is that no one knows how to fight the War on Terror in the civilized world.  We value life, our enemy celebrates death — and our media infrastructure is siding with the enemy.  Until we work out the basics of how the US fights this war, I’m afraid we are definitely in for more Iraq-like situations rather than D-Day triumphs.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

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31 Comments

  1. our media infrastructure is siding with the enemy

    Doubtless, the usual tools and hacks and shills and apologists will dispute this… but I saw a subtle example just today in this al-Reuters story: Gates unlikely to rein in Pentagon on intelligence.

    Note the subtle use of bias in that headline. The headline could have read, “Gates to Continue Pentagon Intelligence Programs” and conveyed the same information. But al-Reuters word choice clearly conveys that they feel Pentagon Intelligence programs are things that need to be “reined in,” and are disappointed that Gates will not do so.

    The story goes on to relate that the CIA is resentful that the Pentagon has increased its intelligence gathering capabilities. Later, in the story, we read why:

    During the Gulf War, for example, commanders discovered the CIA could not provide the kind of tactical or battlefield support needed by a military using smart bombs, computers and other sophisticated new technologies.

    Put it all together, and you’ve got al-Reuters expressing their dismay that the Pentagon will continue to develop the intelligence resources it needs to effectively fight this war.

    Tell me again how the media are not siding with the enemy.

    And that is just one subtle example. The media hype over Abu Ghraib, the torture allegations, the alleged “Koran abuse,” the hyping of the enemy, and the constant disparaging of our own efforts are not in the least way subtle evidence that the media, run by sixties-boomers eager to relive their glory days of American humiliation in Vietnam, have clearly chosen the other side.

    Comment by V the K — December 14, 2006 @ 8:58 am - December 14, 2006

  2. And now that I got that outta my system :-), props to Senator Smith. One feared that with Santorum gone, the Senate had lost the only voice of clarity and sanity about the enemy we face, and the war we have been in for much longer than most have realized it.

    Of course, with the nuts in charge of the Senate, there is little cause for optimism. Pat Leahy — who famously leaked classified data to undermine anti-terrorism efforts in the Reagan Era — will now be overseeing the FBI. Also, Dick “Our Soldiers Are Nazis” Turban will be overseeing the treatment of detainees at Club Gitmo.

    Comment by V the K — December 14, 2006 @ 9:06 am - December 14, 2006

  3. Web Reconnaissance for 12/14/2006…

    A short recon of what?s out there that might draw your attention….

    Trackback by The Thunder Run — December 14, 2006 @ 10:29 am - December 14, 2006

  4. The CIA is a bureaucracy with self-interests like any other – out to knock the other bureaucracies, or to put an assumption out there that the CIA is somehow always smart – and its top apparatchiks and “leakers” form a mutually supportive triangle with the Democratic Party and the MSM.

    I’m not knocking the average CIA operative who deals with terrorists and fights the GWOT for us – nor even the average analyst who sits comfortably in Washington while trying hard… but the top career bureaucrats who endanger our security with their behind-the-scenes political campaigning and leaks in al-Reuters, the NYT, etc.

    Comment by Calarato — December 14, 2006 @ 12:41 pm - December 14, 2006

  5. “no one knows how to fight the War on Terror in the civilized world”

    Is this a concession? Are you admitting that George W. Bush doesn’t know how to fight his “War on Terror”?

    Comment by jimmy — December 14, 2006 @ 1:16 pm - December 14, 2006

  6. I am frustrated as well with the deaths of our soldiers in Iraq, the numbers are atrocious and don’t seem to be letting up. But when I read senator Smith’s words I cannot help but feel disgust. The president is trying to win a short war? How many times has he repeated that the war will take a long time? Now senator Smith thinks Bush may even be running the war in a “criminal” way? Why must those that disagree with the administration always resort to the most base of accusations for what appears to be a tragic failure of decision making? Criminal? What is the senator implying?

    So despite the admonitions of our soldiers the senator wants to retreat from Iraq while not retreating from the “greater war on terror.” That’s a nimble way of straddling the line. I would have more respect for him if he attacked issues like those covered by captainsjournal.com concerning our rules of engagement and how they are hampering victory and endangering troops. But I guess it’s hard to read anything when your busy running for political cover…

    Comment by Evrviglnt — December 14, 2006 @ 1:50 pm - December 14, 2006

  7. Jimmy, # 4 — Looks like it to me. I totally agree with Gordon Smith on this one.

    Comment by ndtovent — December 14, 2006 @ 2:39 pm - December 14, 2006

  8. oops.. Jimmy # 5, excuse me…

    Comment by ndtovent — December 14, 2006 @ 3:16 pm - December 14, 2006

  9. jimmy and ndtovent: typical leftards. First, they attack Bush for not listening to anybody, for going it alone in the GWOT. Then, when he does bring in experts to hear their advice, they attack him for supposedly not knowing how to win the war on his own.

    It’s like something out of Dr. Who: some mindless race of alien creatures incapable of thought or reasoning, but only of expressing hate in every possible form.

    Comment by V the K — December 14, 2006 @ 4:22 pm - December 14, 2006

  10. “leftards”

    the “tard” suffix strikes agian!

    Great!

    Comment by keogh — December 14, 2006 @ 5:01 pm - December 14, 2006

  11. If the suffix fits…

    Comment by V the K — December 14, 2006 @ 5:18 pm - December 14, 2006

  12. Of course, it doesn’t apply to everyone on the left, just to those who are consistently stupid and ignorant and incapable of any semblance of intelligent discourse.

    Comment by V the K — December 14, 2006 @ 5:29 pm - December 14, 2006

  13. I actually agree with just about everything GP says, and what was excerpted of Gordon Smith’s speech.

    Like Smith, I don’t know what the best strategy is regarding Iraq or the War on Terror. And part of what has made the war in Iraq difficult is what GP says. Americans value life, and the terrorists don’t. Not even their own.

    We need to hope that the current and future administrations find a better way to fight terrorism. In the meantime, we need to find the best course for Iraq that will help us in the long run. I’m not sure if “cut and run” is the best strategy or not. But it’s time to end the schoolyard mentality that “cut and run” will necessarily help the terrorists, especially since we are not dealing with rational persons here.

    Comment by Pat — December 15, 2006 @ 9:20 am - December 15, 2006

  14. Sondra K made an interesting point. While Bush spent over a year getting resolutions from the UN and warning the Saddan regime about “Serious Consequences” before invading Iraq, all we heard from the left was “Rush to War! Rush to War!”

    Now, two weeks after the ISG report is out, and Democrats/Media are furious that it hasn’t been implemented yet.

    Apparently, “Rush to surrender” is not a problem.

    Comment by V the K — December 15, 2006 @ 1:29 pm - December 15, 2006

  15. Funny, I was under the impression that chemical weapons were found…what with that declassified report.

    Comment by imnohero — December 15, 2006 @ 10:19 pm - December 15, 2006

  16. for many years, no one knew how to fight the cold war either. however, our gov’t knew it best to actually talk to the soviets and try diplomacy.

    bushco has failed badly for many reasons, not the least that we’ve shown no willingness to talk to iran nor syria. diplomacy also involves listening to people; another area this administration has failed miserably.

    bushco will always be remembered for picking a fight with the wrong country. this failed war is his legacy and he will forever be known as a failure because of it.

    Comment by rightiswrong — December 16, 2006 @ 6:49 am - December 16, 2006

  17. Funny Bruce, many people, Andrew Sullivan for example, have been making the same exact criticisms as Senator Smith for some time. Yet you and your coterie of fanatical drag queen harpy’s have called them traitors, cowards, Leftists, etc. ad nauseum. Even James Baker, a man that was a conservative Republican when you were in daipers, is now considered “one of Them”.

    And its also sad that that every day for the last two weeks Bush has been meeting with Generals, Think Tanks, State Dept Middle East experts etc. And now he “won’t be rushed” into a decision about Iraq.

    It would have been nice don’t you think if he had done that prior to the war? Instead the only people he seemed to listen to were Rummy and Cheney and most of all, his own ego. Its not as if Saddam was such an serious threat that he couldn’t take the time to do that.

    Senator Smith faults his own leadership, and rightly so. But the CIC bears quite a bit of the responsiblity for this fiasco. A criticism I made at the time, that has proved all too true is that he has never had control of his own Administration. He allowed the inter-agency fighting between the Pentagon, the State Dept, and the CIA to flourish without consequence. Even though it has cost him (and us) dearly by sabotaging his own goals.

    Mr. Bush, as much as he likes to think of himself as “The decider” has instead proved that he has been one of the most weakest Presidents in modern times. Not even President Carter was so weak.

    Thats probably why he feels the need to try and expand Presidential authority so much with the signing statements etc. He doesn’t have the strength of personal character to actually lead anyone to his point of view, or even to his front door for that matter. Instead he has to try and bully people into submission with legalisms and Police State type powers. Thats not a leader, its just the kind of person that a spoiled brat grows up to be.

    And who are the overly-permissive and oblivious parents that have raised such a creature? And that are ultimately responsible for this mess? Why those that have enabled and continue to enable his behavior of course. By endlessly and blindly defending him and vicously attacking any that raise even slightly any question about his policies.

    Well congrats, you got exactly the child you wanted. Problem is, he is still a child.

    Like I seem to be saying often about your posts lately, Bruce.
    Pathetic.

    Comment by Patrick (gryph) — December 16, 2006 @ 11:54 am - December 16, 2006

  18. Funny Bruce, many people, Andrew Sullivan for example, have been making the same exact criticisms as Senator Smith for some time.

    That is like saying hot chocolate is the “same exact” beverage as liquid horsesh*t.

    The key difference between you, Sullivan, and Senator Smith, Gryph, is that Smith believes our intervention in Iraq was necessary, justified, and a portion of the global war against terrorism.

    You and Sullivan, like your fellow Democrats, don’t.

    Oddly enough, this President that you call “weak” has made two decisions that your “strong” Democrats opposed; putting an end to the Taliban’s rule over Afghanistan and to Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror in Iraq.

    Where I disagree with Senator Smith’s statement is this:

    But since that time, there have been 2,899 American casualties. There have been over 22,000 American men and women wounded. There has been an expenditure of $290 billion a figure that approaches the expenditure we have every year on an issue as important as Medicare. We have paid a price in blood and treasure that is beyond calculation by my estimation.

    However, under Saddam, millions of Iraqis were systematically imprisoned, tortured, and murdered under Saddam’s regime, and a country of massive oil reserves that could have provided incredible wealth for its economy to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars was drained, with the money used to provide lavish palaces and armaments for Saddam and enormous bribes for UN and European diplomats, while its infrastructure collapsed and its people starved.

    The United States has not paid a fraction of the blood, pain, and suffering that Iraq has, and this is made far worse by the fact that much of that price paid by the Iraqis was a result of our refusal to act against Saddam.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — December 16, 2006 @ 10:10 pm - December 16, 2006

  19. We’re just about to turn a corner, and this guy spews that noxious nonsense. I can’t imagine what makes a person hate America so much that he’d be objectively pro-insurgent.

    Comment by jpe — December 17, 2006 @ 12:26 am - December 17, 2006

  20. However, under Saddam, millions of Iraqis were systematically imprisoned, tortured, and murdered under Saddam’s regime

    Why stop with millions? If you’re going to make shit up, at least go for something cool-sounding like “kajillions.”

    Comment by jpe — December 17, 2006 @ 12:30 am - December 17, 2006

  21. #20. I like the way the redundancy (“under Saddam”) accentuates the inflated figures, in a literary way.

    #18. “The United States has not paid a fraction of the blood, pain, and suffering that Iraq has, and this is made far worse by the fact that much of that price paid by the Iraqis was a result of our refusal to act against Saddam.”

    And now it is a result of having acted against Hussein. (What’s with calling the guy by his first name, by the way, as if he’s the butler or your paperboy?) The line about “fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here”…what do you think the people of Iraq think about that? They must be so happy that we have decided to use their country as a battleground. And, therefore, they should love us.

    Comment by sean — December 17, 2006 @ 12:54 am - December 17, 2006

  22. “putting an end to the Taliban’s rule over Afghanistan”

    I don’t know many mainstreamers who were against going to Afghanistan. But I know a lot of people who continue to be upset that we did not finish the job there before going to Iraq.

    Sullivan was pro-war from the get-go. Perhaps that is why his criticisms sting so much.

    And NDT, though I agree with you that America’s policy has been flawed toward Iraq since at least the 80’s, I don’t think his atrocities are America’s fault.
    I would hope you stop Blaming America for “Hussein’s” barbarism and you are wrong to demand that America should pay for our mistakes with our soldier’s blood.

    Comment by keogh — December 17, 2006 @ 11:36 am - December 17, 2006

  23. And now it is a result of having acted against Hussein. (What’s with calling the guy by his first name, by the way, as if he’s the butler or your paperboy?)

    Saddam is regularly referred to by his first name to avoid confusing him with the prior ruler of Jordan, King Hussein.

    The line about “fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here”…what do you think the people of Iraq think about that? They must be so happy that we have decided to use their country as a battleground.

    That is going on the assumption, sean, that they enjoyed the situation under which they were previously living.

    I would hope you stop Blaming America for “Hussein’s” barbarism and you are wrong to demand that America should pay for our mistakes with our soldier’s blood.

    Amazing, isn’t it, how leftists like Keogh will blame the United States for everything else, but not for turning a blind eye to Saddam Hussein?

    That’s because it was during the time when “engaging” and laying supine before the UN and its terrorist friends, just as they demand we do now, was being practiced.

    Keogh twists my words by claiming that I believe US soldiers “should” pay for our mistakes. What I said was that US soldiers ARE paying for the fact that keogh and his fellow leftists, encouraged by billions of dollars in bribes and contracts for them, the European governments to which they pander, and the UN bureaucrats and their families whom they worship, allowed Saddam to drain Iraq dry and collapse its infrastructure and entire social order, all in an attempt to maintain his grip on power. What leftists like keogh won’t admit is that it’s not necessarily “ancient hatreds” that motivate Sunni and Shi’a warfare; it’s the far more-obvious fact that, under Saddam’s completely-Sunni government, Sunnis received virtually everything, and Shi’a were treated no better than cattle — and that the Sunnis now cowering and begging for protections were the ones who ordered the destruction of entire Shi’a villages at their masters’ commands.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — December 17, 2006 @ 12:38 pm - December 17, 2006

  24. The key difference between you, Sullivan, and Senator Smith, Gryph, is that Smith believes our intervention in Iraq was necessary, justified, and a portion of the global war against terrorism.

    Actually both Sullivan and I are on record many times as being for the war in Iraq. We just wish it had been waged competantly by this Administration and not FUBAR’d. You continue to ignore facts in favor of your own narracistic self-righteous moralizing victim-hood.

    But lets face it NDT, “truth” and “facts” have always been a problem issue for you. Especially when they get in the way of your fanaticism.

    Comment by Patrick (gryph) — December 17, 2006 @ 3:35 pm - December 17, 2006

  25. Sen. Gordon Smith sounds like a thoughful and wise man. In NC we have our own Sen. Smith — Fred Smith, also a Republican. A man who desires victory and cares about our military.

    However, it’s your comment, Bruce, that rings so true: Until we figure out how we’re going to fight this vicious enemy, we’ll likely end up in more Iraq situations.

    Are we going to try to win the hearts and minds of people who want us dead? Or are we going to instill fear that an attack on the US and its interests will result in death and devastation for the attackers and their supporters.

    Are we going to tie the hands of our soldiers and cops, or are we going to allow them to do their jobs?

    Are we trying to sanitize war — which is ugly and meant to be ugly — or are we going to make war truly something to avoid?

    Comment by Nathan — December 17, 2006 @ 7:31 pm - December 17, 2006

  26. Of course you’re “for” the war in Iraq, Gryph; you merely oppose everyone, every thing, and every action associated with it.

    Sort of like how John Kerry was “for” his fellow soldiers by calling them murderers and baby-killers.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — December 18, 2006 @ 12:35 pm - December 18, 2006

  27. I see I am not the only one whom Gryph, and Sullivan, remind of John Kerry 🙂

    Comment by Calarato — December 18, 2006 @ 12:40 pm - December 18, 2006

  28. Calarato, NDXXX… I think the AngryGryph was in favor of the WOT in Iraq before he decided to be against… oh, let’s see… the military leadership and the service personnel he labeled as torturers… the civilian administration of the WOT because they won’t give the AngryGryph a thumbs up on gays in the military… the Marines he labeled as blood thirsty murderers of innocent Iraqis… and so forth.

    Right, Gryph is supportive of the WOT in Iraq? LOL. That’s a hoot.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — December 19, 2006 @ 7:26 pm - December 19, 2006

  29. Gryph writes (or taunts): “Like I seem to be saying often about your posts lately, Bruce. Pathetic.”

    Well, it’s good you write them here, AngryGryph… cause if you put them on YOUR blogsite, no one would ever read them.

    Now, what was that about “pathetic”?

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — December 19, 2006 @ 7:29 pm - December 19, 2006

  30. ROTFLMAO

    I know. Gryph’s visible jealousy of Bruce seems the most likely reason why he’d keeps coming back, if Bruce is even one-third as bad as Gryph obsessively claims (on Bruce’s dime).

    Comment by Calarato — December 20, 2006 @ 10:20 am - December 20, 2006

  31. I think a blog devoted to a log of one’s bowel movements would get more traffic than Gryphmon’s blog. If people want to read rote parroting of liberal-left talking points, they can go to, well, the mainstream media mostly.

    Comment by V the K — December 21, 2006 @ 9:11 am - December 21, 2006

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