Hulshof: Declaring That the United States Will Prevail in the Global War on Terror
Mr. HULSHOF. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this resolution, in support of our troops, and in support of our Nation's efforts in the Global War on Terror.
In both Iraq and Afghanistan, we find ourselves locked in a struggle with an enemy that despises liberty and embraces an ideology of hate.
Terrorists did not declare war on us the morning of September 11, 2001. It started long before that. Consider the following:
In November of 1979, radical Iranians seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, holding 53 American hostages for 444 days.
Less than four years later, 63 people died when the U.S. Embassy in Beirut is bombed.
Scant months later, 242 Americans and 58 French are killed by simultaneous suicide bombers in the American and French compounds in Beirut.
March 1984, Islamic terrorists kidnapped and murdered Political Officer William Buckley.
One year later, terrorists seized the Italian cruise liner the Achille Lauro and killed Leon Klinghoffer, a 69-year-old American who was confined to a wheelchair.
In June of 1985, Lebanese Hizballah terrorists hijacked a TWA flight forcing the plane to fly to Beirut. Eight crew members and 145 passengers are held hostage for 17 days, during which time a U.S. sailor is murdered.
April 1986, two U.S. soldiers are killed and 79 are injured when Libyan nationals detonated bombs in a West Berlin discotheque.
Two years later, Libyans again take American lives when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. All of the 259 people on board are killed.
On February 26, 1993, for the first time, Islamic terrorists strike on American soil when a car bomb explodes in the garage of the World Trade Center, killing six and injuring 1,000.
On April 14, 1993, Iraqi intelligence operatives attempted to assassinate former President Bush.
In 1995, a car bomb exploded at a U.S. military complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, one U.S. citizen is killed.
Seven months later a truck bomb detonated outside the Khobar Towers in Dhahram, Saudi Arabia. Nineteen Airmen are killed and 515 people are wounded.
In August of 1998, the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania fall victim to coordinated attacks. Over 300 are killed.
Two years latter, a small watercraft laden with explosives rammed into the U.S.S. Cole, killing 17 U.S. sailors.
Finally, September 11, 2001, two hijacked airliners hit the World Trade Center towers, another plane crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth plane, headed for either the White House or U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., crashed in a Pennsylvania cornfield. All told, 3,025 perish.
But until we took action in Afghanistan, our response to terror was often non-existent, sporadic, or inconsistent.
In the wake of September 11, the American people rightfully demanded that their elected officials make a commitment to aggressively combat terrorism. We went into Afghanistan to proactively stop further attacks on innocent Americans. Afghanistan was a haven for al-Qaeda, and the terror attacks on our own soil showed us that we can no longer rely on oceans and geography to protect our homeland :from attack. Thus, we must drain the swamps where terrorism breeds and take the fight to those who have, through their own words and deeds, declared war on us.
In addition to the real-life need to protect our citizens, there is a larger meaning in our efforts in the Global War on Terror. Those we fight abhor freedom and liberty. They shun religious tolerance and view with disdain our deeply held belief that every person is endowed with basic human rights. And make no doubt about it--our enemy in the Global War on Terror is determined to impose their dangerous ideology on innocent people around the globe. The carnage of September 11 showed us that we can no longer turn a blind-eye as hate-filled terrorists plot against our Nation and its citizens.
Then there is the question of Iraq. Hindsight is 20/20, and we now know that Iraq did not possess significant stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. But let us look at the evidence from the time--the evidence upon which the Congress, the Administration, and our allies around the world had to judge the threat posed by Iraq.
Saddam Hussein had a long history of pursuing weapons of mass destruction. Like the terrorist acts against this country, Saddam's determination to pursue weapons of mass destruction and desire to intimidate his neighbors in the region began long ago.
In the 1970's, Iraq started constructing a nuclear reactor in Osirak. The international community did nothing in response to this gathering threat. Israel, not content to watch Saddam Hussein move forward with a nuclear program, destroyed the reactor in 1981.
In the 1980s and the early part of the 1990s, Saddam Hussein's regime proved time and again that they were a threat to peace and stability in the region. Saddam repeatedly, almost continually, used chemical and biological weapons on his own citizens and Iranian troops. For example:
In August 1983, Saddam used mustard gas on almost 100 Iranians and Kurds in Haji Uman.
From October through November of that same year, he used mustard gas on 3,000 Iranians and Kurds in Panjwin.
One year later on Manjoon Island, Saddam again used mustard gas on 2,500 Iranians.
Simultaneously, he used the nerve agent tabun on 50 to 100 Iranians in Al Basrah.
A year later, in March of 1985, mustard and tabun were used in Hawizah Marsh on 3,000 Iranians.
February of 1986 in Al-Faw, mustard and tabun were used against 8,000 to 10,000 Iranians.
Later in 1986 in Urn ar-Rasas, mustard gas was used against thousands of Iranians.
Then in April of 1987 at Al-Basrah, mustard and tabun were used on 3,000 Iranians.
Later that year, mustard and a nerve agent were used in Sumar/Mehran on 5,000 Iranians.
In March of 1988, mustard and a nerve agent were used on thousands of Iranians and Kurds in Halabjah and Kurdish areas respectively.
One month later, Al-Faw again sees destruction when mustard and a nerve agent were used on thousands of Iranians.
One month after that, Fish Lake sees hundreds or thousands of Iranians succumb to mustard or a nerve agent.
In June of 1988, Manjoon Island was attacked with mustard and nerve agent, this time hundreds or thousands were affected.
July of that year, the chemical agents were again used along the South-central border with the same effect.
One month later in Haij Urnran, mustard gas was used on less than 100 Kurds.
And finally, in March of 1991 in the An-Najaf-Karbala area, nerve agent was yet again used by Hussein's regime.
These attacks demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt Saddam Hussein's willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against not only his foreign enemies, but even his own citizens.
Now, let us remember that the intelligence community around the world continued to assert that Iraq under Saddam Hussein continued to pursue the means to produce and deploy weapons of mass destruction. It would have been irresponsible--in light of Saddam's record of using these weapons--to ignore these intelligence warnings. And I might also add that in the wake of these intelligence shortcomings and in response to the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, the House has taken concrete steps to improve our intelligence gathering and analytical capabilities.
Three years ago when I addressed this House on the resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, I said, "while I do not find sufficient evidence to establish a concrete link between Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist that committed the terrorist acts of September 11th, the fact remains that Iraq continues to sponsor terrorists with global reach."
I think this analysis holds true today. To use the words of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, "September 11 was not an isolated event but a tragic prologue, Iraq another act, and many further struggles will be set upon this stage before it's over."
Let us remember--Iraq had been labeled a State Sponsor of Terrorism by both the current Bush Administration as well as the Clinton Administration. Removing this breeding ground of terrorism was and is in this country's best interest.
Furthermore, Saddam demonstrated a complete disregard for his international obligations. Over the course of more than a decade, he willfully violated or simply ignored 17 U.N. Security Council Resolutions. He attempted to assassinate our former President, and he continually violated the peace treaty that he signed to end the first Gulf War. And let us not forget that Saddam also invaded two of his sovereign neighbors.
Saddam Hussein's blatant disregard for basic human rights was well- documented. He used fear arid intimidation to retain his grip on power, and his henchmen employed torture, rape, murder and a host of other unspeakable crimes to keep the Iraqi populace under his tyrannical control. I think it is again worth reminding my colleagues that these evil individuals no longer control Iraq, and Saddam finds himself on trial before his fellow Iraqis for crimes against his own people.
I believe that history will excuse the errors in our intelligence about weapons of mass destruction and reach a common-sense conclusion-- military action to remove Saddam Hussein from power was justified, and the world is a safer place with Saddam Hussein in a jail cell.
The storm clouds were gathering in Iraq. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in his 1941 State of the Union Address, "when the dictators . . . are ready to make war upon us, they will not wait for an act of war on our part . . . they--not we--will choose the time and the place and the method of their attack." The wisdom of President Franklin Roosevelt still rings true today. It would have been a grave mistake to dismiss or ignore the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
Our actions in Iraq and in Afghanistan were in response to the global threat we faced from state sponsors of terror that harbored and assisted our enemies. And whether you supported or opposed military action in Afghanistan and the use of force in Iraq, the fact of the matter is that we now have troops in the field working diligently to help fledgling democracies take hold in the Middle East. The world is watching, and we must remain committed to our principles and our mission. And we have a duty to stand behind our troops.
It is in our national security interests for the seeds of democracy take hold in Iraq. And we must continue to train and assist Iraqis to provide for their own security. A significant step towards the goal of a free, peaceful and independent Iraq will be the development of security forces, composed of and led by Iraqis, that is firmly under the direction and control of the freely elected government.
Ultimately, success will be achieved when Iraq is a stable country that is no longer a threat to the region or global security, a peaceable country that respects the rights of its citizens and its neighbors.
This is a difficult but worthwhile endeavor. And we are making tangible progress.
Iraqi security forces are growing in number and taking more responsibility for internal security. We have now trained more than 240,000 security forces, and these men and even some women are now beginning to take the lead in the fight against terrorist insurgents. Indigenous personnel and intelligence assets played a key role in the successful mission that led to the elimination of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq.
Democracy is taking root in Iraq. The Iraqi people have approved what is arguably the most progressive constitution in the Arab world, and last December, 75 percent of voting age Iraqis freely elected their new government. Iraq now has a new Prime Minister, Jawad al-Maliki, and the Prime Minister has filled all of the positions in his cabinet. The new government is a representative cross-section of Iraq's diverse religious and ethnic populations.
Things are moving forward on the economic front. In 2005, the Iraqi economy grew by an estimated 2.6 percent in real terms and the International Monetary Fund has estimated that it will grow by more than 10 percent this year. Foreign and domestic banks are opening new offices in Iraq and a stock market has been established. Vital infrastructure--schools, hospitals, fire stations and the like-- continues to come online.
Progress in Iraq has been slow, but it is happening, and slowly but surely, things are moving in the right direction.
It has been suggested by some in this Chamber that we should either immediately remove our troops from Iraq or set artificial timelines for withdrawal. Like all Americans, I want our troops to return as soon as is possible. But I think it would be short-sighted to withdraw our military until stability has been established in Iraq. A premature withdrawal would waste the sacrifice of those who have worked so hard to promote freedom in the heart of the Middle East.
The National Defense Authorization Act for 2006 stated that "2006 should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq." I agree with this language.
However, the job now is not finished. Iraqi security forces are not ready to counter all of the threats that are facing Iraq and cannot secure their country on their own. If we made the ill-fated decision to turn our backs on the Iraqi people, we would doom their brief experience with democracy and risk creating a lawless safe-haven for terrorists.
Our enemies know what is at stake in Iraq. Al-Qaeda views Iraq as the frontline in their efforts to combat the spread of democracy in the Middle East. They realize that our success in Iraq is a direct threat to their ideology of fear and hate. To walk away now from our mission in Iraq would be portrayed in the Arab World as a significant victory for al-Qaeda. It would draw into question or commitment to our allies in the region and our commitment to the very principles upon which our Nation is based.
Like all Americans, I want our troops home as soon as possible. And we as Congress have a constitutional obligation to weigh-in on this effort and ensure that our Nation's policy is consistent with a goal of achieving victory in Iraq. And as appealing as an immediate withdrawal may be to certain segments of our society, I think it would be irresponsible for Congress to turn our back on our obligations and call for the removal of troops from Iraq before the mission has been accomplished. And as a matter of fairness, the embrace of a "cut and run" approach to Iraq would waste the sacrifice of thousands of American troops who have served in Iraq.
Since September 11, 2001, we have not had a major terrorist attack on American soil, despite the clear desire of our enemy to again strike us here at home. We have terminated or captured dangerous terrorists around the globe, disrupted their financing, and denied them safe- haven. We should be proud of these accomplishments, but remain vigilant in recognizing that more work remains.
God willing, we will prevail in this struggle. May God bless the United States, and God bless the soldiers that defend it.