There’s buzz building about a speech by Senator Ted Kennedy at the National Press
Conference Club this morning. The Senator is sponsoring a bill requiring congressional approval of Bush’s planned escalation in Iraq.
Eventually I hope to post a YouTube video of the speech. Raw Story has a transcript.
In a conference call to bloggers, the Senator reminded us that the resolution of October 2002 that authorized use of force in Iraq was predicated on three assumptions: (1) That Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction; (2) that Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship with al Qaeda; and (3) that Saddam Hussein had broken UN resolutions. Well, the first two turned out to be false, and the third is now moot. President Bush cannot assume to continue military action in Iraq without further authorization.
But time is critical. If Congress doesn’t speak right now, Bush could have more troops on their way to Iraq the day after tomorrow. And then Congress would be put on the spot to refuse appropriations for actions already taken and troops already deployed.
The idea that Congress doesn’t have the authority to limit Bush’s actions is refuted by history. The Center for American Progress has a list of caps and limitations imposed by Congress in military adventures past.
Robert Greenwald forwarded this email from the Senator and asked it be disseminated:
Thank you so much for your concern and involvement on the issue of Iraq. I deeply believe that Iraq is the defining issue of our time. I am proud to have voted against the authorization for war in 2002, but the issue now is what we do going forward. Tomorrow night, President Bush is going to outline for the nation his “way forward” in Iraq. And from all reports, his way forward involves escalating American involvement by sending up to 20,000 more soldiers and Marines to fight in the middle of what has become a civil war. Every American, no matter what their political stripe, knows that the current strategy isn’t working and that we need a better way forward. I believe that President Bush’s plan is the wrong way forward. It’s just stay the course under a different name, and I strongly oppose it.
Today, I will introduce legislation that requires Congress to vote before the President escalates troop levels in Iraq. My legislation will provide that not one additional soldier can be sent and not one additional dollar can be expended until Congress debates and approves the President’s proposed escalation of American forces in Iraq. If the election in November was about anything, it was about accountability and the need for a changed policy in Iraq. Most Americans oppose this war, and an even more oppose sending more troops to Iraq. The American people deserve to be heard before we appropriate additional funds for additional troops in Iraq. In October 2002, Congress authorized (1) a war against the regime of Saddam Hussein because (2) he was believed to have weapons of mass destruction and (3) an operational relationship with Al Qaeda, and (4) because he was in defiance of U.N. Security Council Resolution. Today, Saddam Hussein is dead and we know that there were no weapons of mass destruction or operational relationships with Al Qaeda and there is a new, elected government in Iraq that is not in defiance of a Security Council Resolution. No one can dispute that the mission of our armed forces today in Iraq no longer bears any resemblance to the mission authorized by Congress.
Instead of continued mistakes and shoot-from-the-hip policies, it’s time to get this right. The President must make clear the mission of our troops and lay out a path to bring them home, and Congress must stop being a rubberstamp for failed policies and stand up and act.
We know from history that an escalation of troops into a civil war won’t work. Our leaders tried it in Vietnam, and each surge of force lead to the next. It escalated the war, instead of ending it. Like Vietnam, there is no military solution to Iraq, only political. It seems that the President is almost the last person in America to understand that.
An escalation of American forces would only compound the original misguided decision to invade Iraq. A military escalation in Iraq will not strengthen our national security; rather, it would further weaken it by enabling the Iraqis to avoid taking responsibility for their own future. And an escalation will not lead us to victory. American troops can’t force the Iraqis reconcile their internal differences.
Our service men and women in Iraq have served with distinction and valor. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do, and they’ve done it well. More than 3,000 of our best and our brightest have been killed in Iraq and more than 22,000 more have being wounded, many of them seriously. Our troops deserve a policy worthy of their sacrifice and their bravery, and I will continue to fight until we have one.
I urge every American to ensure their voice is heard in this critical decision. When the President speaks tomorrow night, he must be reminded that accountability and responsibility are no longer extinct in Washington ? they are alive and well.
Thank you, Robert, for always being involved in what Olive Wendell Holmes called the passion and action of our time. You continue to make an enormous difference. All the best,