It's Not the Questioning of Bush's Policy in Iraq That Brings Down Morale

In response to Wade Zirkle's article that appeared in yesterday's Washington Post:

As President Theodore Roosevelt said, "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

It's always a delicate balance when you disagree with a President's policy as I do. But I believe I have an obligation to speak out against what I consider a failed policy in Iraq. I have the utmost respect and admiration for our nation's warfighter, some of who have been deployed to the war theater for as many as four and five times. But, I believe it imperative to separate the war from the warrior.

In a Town Hall Meeting held by Congressman Jim Moran on January 5, 2006, with over 600 people in attendance, there was one dissenting veteran of Afghanistan. I agree with that soldier on one point: that the U.S. should have retaliated and finished the Taliban.

There were at least four Iraq veterans who agreed with my position that it's time to redeploy our troops from Iraq. Having said that, I believe the military has completed its mission in Iraq. Unfortunately, civilian leadership is blaming them for Secretary Rumsfeld's mistakes.

When you go to war there should be a threat to our national security, we should use overwhelming force, and there should be an exit strategy. All three of these principles were violated in Iraq. The war was mishandled, misrepresented, and mischaracterized.

But let's get the facts straight, it is not the questioning of the President's "stay the course" war policy in Iraq that brings down morale. It is being sent into battle with inadequate life-saving equipment, it is over deploying our military for extended periods of time, it is giving our military an unclear and ill-defined mission in Iraq and one where they see no end in sight.

I introduced the following joint resolution in the House of Representatives on November 17, 2005, which has 100 cosponsors, and calls for the redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq:

To redeploy U.S. forces from Iraq.

Whereas Congress and the American people have not been shown clear, measurable progress toward establishment of stable and improving security in Iraq or of a stable and improving economy in Iraq, both of which are essential to `promote the emergence of a democratic government';

Whereas additional stabilization in Iraq by U.S. military forces cannot be achieved without the deployment of hundreds of thousands of additional U.S. troops, which in turn cannot be achieved without a military draft;

Whereas more than $277 billion has been appropriated by the United States Congress to prosecute U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan;

Whereas, as of the drafting of this resolution, 2,079 U.S. troops have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom;

Whereas U.S. forces have become the target of the insurgency;

Whereas, according to recent polls, over 80 percent of the Iraqi people want the U.S. forces out of Iraq;

Whereas polls also indicate that 45 percent of the Iraqi people feel that the attacks on U.S. forces are justified; and

Whereas, due to the foregoing, Congress finds it evident that continuing U.S. military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the people of Iraq, or the Persian Gulf Region, which were cited in Public Law 107-243 as justification for undertaking such action: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That:

SECTION 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.
SEC. 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines shall be deployed in the region.
SEC. 3. The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy.