What Coble Said About 'Surge' Plan
Here is the text of remarks that Sixth District Rep. Howard Coble delivered on the House floor Wednesday concerning President Bush's planned troop "surge" in Iraq. The House later voted to oppose the action.
Mr. Speaker, I oppose deploying 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.
"Oh, if you oppose the surge, the troops will be demoralized," we're told. The five D words will be prominently exposed this week, as my friend just mentioned: debate, dialogue, discipline, deliberation, and democracy.
The troop morale will be adversely affected because we're involved with these disciplines? I think not. I believe they would more readily be demoralized if we were willy-nilly rubber-stamping every issue confronting us.
I approved of removing Saddam Hussein because it is my belief, and I continue to believe it is the general consensus of this Congress, that Saddam was indeed an international terrorist. I regret that we were inept in formulating a post-entry strategy. I'm not convinced that any particular strategy was ever in place.
It is unfortunate and, yes, unfair, that some people, perhaps many people, are blaming President Bush, the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and our other allies for the civil unrest in Iraq. Saddam was removed, and a free election was conducted, so the Iraqi people were given a choice between freedom and civil war.
Unfortunately, they chose the latter. They rejected freedom and chose civil war. And the longer we maintain a presence there, the more they will rely upon us. The time has come, in my opinion, for the baton to be handed to the Iraqis.
Finally, permit me to discuss cutting and running.
"Oh, you cannot leave; you will be accused of cutting and running," we're told. If we had removed Saddam, which most Iraqis wanted, and then withdrew four or five weeks later or even four or five months later -- that would have constituted cutting and running. But we've been there for years, Mr. Speaker. Over 3,100 of our troops have given the ultimate sacrifice. In excess of 25,000 have suffered injuries, many permanent, disabling injuries.
This is sacrifice, not cutting and running. And I insist that we do not maintain an eternal presence in Iraq, if for no other reason than the cost to the taxpayers, which has been astronomically unbelievable.
In excess of two years, Mr. Speaker, I have stressed the importance of retaining troop withdrawal as a viable option. Early on, virtually no one was even remotely considering withdrawal. I believe withdrawal is not unsound for the reasons I previously cited.
Some Americans, and perhaps some in this body, oppose the Iraqi operation because they dislike President Bush. I, however, do not march to that drum. I am personally very high on President Bush, but on the matter of troop escalation, I am not in agreement.
The noted British statesman Edmund Burke, while addressing solicitors at Bristol many years ago, said, "As your representative, I owe you my industry, but I also owe you my judgment, and if I sacrifice my judgment for your opinion, I have not served you well."
Some of my constituents will embrace my vote as demonstrating sound judgment. Others likely will reject my vote as a result of flawed judgment.
Not only do I owe my best judgment to my constituents, but to our troops as well, whom we continue to remember in our thoughts and prayers.
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