Here are some excerpts from Rep. Murtha's speech:
"The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion". We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region."
"We spend more money on Intelligence than all the countries in the world together, and more on Intelligence than most countries GDP. But the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong. It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a U.S. intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused."
"The future of our military is at risk. Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken". We cannot allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care, to be negotiated away."
"The Director of the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted to being "terrified" about the budget deficit in the coming decades. This is the first prolonged war we have fought with three years of tax cuts, without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. The burden of this war has not been shared equally; the military and their families are shouldering this burden."
"And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American causalities have doubled."
"A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified."
"Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our obligation, to speak out for them. That's why I am speaking out. Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home."
Afraid to argue about the message, the Bush Administration and its minions attacked the messenger. Murtha was accused of "endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore". Democrats were accused of cowering "like European nations", waving the white flag, and there was a lot of brave talk among the chickenhawks about "cutting and running".
Chickenhawk One even took time during his Asian trip to declare that a troop withdrawal from Iraq would be "recipe for disaster". ("and who would know more about cooking up a disaster than George W. Bush?)
Vice President Cheney made speeches and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made the rounds of the news/talk shows, explaining why we cannot withdraw our troops from Iraq. They described precisely what the Iraqis and the "insurgents" would think and what they would do if the US were to withdraw its forces or even set a timetable for withdrawal. These are two of the same geniuses who predicted American troops would be greeted with flowers and kisses, the war would be over in a few weeks, and Iraqi oil would pay for the whole thing. Can anyone explain why we should believe one single thing that anyone in the Bush Administration says? Fool me once"
"We demand the withdrawal of foreign forces in accordance with a timetable, and the establishment of a national and immediate program for rebuilding the armed forces...that will allow them to guard Iraq's borders and to get control of the security situation --from a joint communique' issued by the Iraqi factions from a Reconciliation Conference sponsored by the Arab-League in Cairo, Egypt, reported by the AP, 11/22/05
The Iraqis at the conference also drew a distinction between "legitimate" resistance (against the occupation troops), and terrorism which targets Iraqi civilians. There were strong indications that the Iraqis have had enough of the heavy hand of occupation:
"For good measure, the final communique also demanded "an immediate end to arbitrary raids and arrests without a documented judicial order," release of all "innocent detainees," and investigation of "allegations of torture of prisoners." -- AP, 11/22/05
The majority of the American people want to bring our troops home from Iraq. The military knows the war is unwinnable, and has stated through Representative Murtha that "It is time to bring them home." Now the Iraqis have demanded that we leave. The Bush Administration has long maintained that if the Iraqis ask us to leave, we will leave so what are we waiting for?
I think the House Republicans were upset with Congressman Murtha because he beat them to the punch in calling for an immediate redeployment out of Iraq. With everything turning against the war and mid-term elections next November, the Republicans want to orchestrate a dramatic call for withdrawal, timing it for maximum political gain.
Unfortunately, while the Republicans are doing all that timing and orchestrating, a few hundred more Americas would surely be killed in Iraq. That is why Jack Murtha has it exactly right. We should start now and get our troops out of Iraq as quickly as possible.