I rise tonight to play my small part in this pointless political play put on by the Senate Majority Leader.
It is an insult to the brave men and women in our Armed Forces and to the American taxpayers that we are here tonight for no other reason than for a publicity stunt.
Instead of following the script written by "Move On" like my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, I want to be honest and frank with the American people.
I hear Democrats every day talking about public opinion polls on Iraq and on the President’s approval rating.
To some extent they are right. The American people are not satisfied with the war in Iraq. And the President is at an all-time low in his approval rating.
But I rarely hear my friends on the other side of the aisle talk about public opinion of Congress. And it’s obvious why. President Bush has a higher approval rating than the current Democrat led-Congress.
I have never been accused of being a political strategist. But I have been around this town long enough — over twenty years — to know that the American people resent their leaders for so often taking the politically expedient path instead of doing what they think is right.
The American people see right through this charade going on tonight. It is just more political theater. Phony images of cots, toothpaste, and sleepy politicians meant to convince people that what goes on here at three in the morning may actually do some good.
But it doesn’t do any good. In fact, it does a lot of bad. Because this debate is more about political show and placating the "Move On" folks than it is about talking about the real issues at hand.
It is appalling that we are using a bill that provides vital funding for our nation’s military as a political smokescreen for Democrats to gain points in the polls.
The safety and security of the brave men and women in our Armed Forces is not a game to me. Our troops should never be used as a basis to stage a cheap publicity stunt.
If the Senate truly supported our troops, we would be here debating the nuts and bolts of the Department of Defense Authorization bill. Instead we find ourselves back debating whether to cut and run from Iraq as we have done countless times before tonight.
Democrats would like for you to believe that Republicans will not vote on the Reed/Levin amendment. Give me a break.
I’m happy to vote on this amendment right now. I plan to oppose it just as I opposed a similar version Senator Levin offered just two months ago.
It is a bad amendment. It calls for a premature withdrawal of American troops from Iraq before we have even had a chance to see the results of the surge.
I want to know how some of my colleagues know that the surge has already failed when it has only been in place for a month. I want to know how they know the situation in Iraq better than our commanders on the ground.
The ink isn’t even dry on the President’s plan and Democrats are already declaring it a failure. This type of defeatist strategy is irrational and unfair.
It is important to remember the dangerous effect our debate here in Washington can have on the message we are sending to our enemies. Make no mistake our enemies are watching us.
They are watching us and using our debate on the war on Iraq to strengthen themselves. Just this morning the new National Intelligence Estimate declared that the United States is at an elevated threat level.
It said that our biggest threat is al-Qaeda — specifically al-Qaeda in Iraq. The group is working to mobilize other extremist terrorist organizations in the region to mount a new attack against the United States.
The report also found the al-Qaeda will continue to acquire chemical, biological or nuclear material for attacks and will not hesitate to use them.
While al-Qaeda is working to plan this attack, U.S. forces are working hand-in-hand with Iraqi Security Forces to break up this organization and root out its terrorist networks.
This work is vital to our national security. We cannot forget the important lessons we learned from the tragedies of 9/11. There are still those out there who wish to do us harm.
Wake up America! If we withdraw from Iraq, the terrorists will likely follow us home. Democrats would like for us to believe that we can responsibly leave Iraq and the conflict will end. This is delusional.
Make no mistake if we leave Iraq prematurely there will be widespread chaos in the Middle East. Iran will work with Syria to dominate the region while Sunni states scramble to oppose them. They will use any means possible to acquire the resources to bolster their nuclear weapons program in an effort to combat the United States.
The Kurds in Iraq will form their own country possibly with the Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iran. This could then lead to an armed conflict between the Kurds and the Turkish government.
There will be widespread attacks to wipeout Israel and topple the Democratic government of Lebanon. These pillars of Democracy in the Middle East that once stood as an example for freedom within the region will crumble.
The government in Iraq will fail and there will be civil war within the country. This will result in mass civilian casualties and displacement.
Most importantly, our national security will suffer.
Just this afternoon we passed by a large majority Senator Cornyn’s amendment that said that we should not leave a failed state in Iraq. It also said that we should not pass any legislation that will undermine our military’s ability to prevent a failed state in Iraq.
I ask my colleagues what are we doing right now? We are debating Senator Levin’s amendment that will without a doubt result in a failed Iraq.
Let me be clear to my colleagues that believe they can support both amendments. A strategy of cut and run will lead to a failed Iraq and will undermine our military’s mission.
But Democrats have already decided the surge has failed before it has had a chance to work. These are the same people who voted to overwhelmingly confirm General Petraeus and are now refusing to wait to hear his report in September.
This is the exact type of message our enemies want to hear. Well, I for one am working hard to send our enemies a message — the United States will not back down from this fight. I stand behind our troops and General Petraeus.
I promised General Petraeus that I would wait to hear his report this fall. And I intend to keep my promise. I urge my colleagues to do the same.
The safety and security of all Americans depend on it.
Thank you Mr. President and I yield the floor.