Sunday, April 01, 2007

Win war on terror by leaving Iraq


This month, I delivered on one of my campaign promises when I voted to get the Bush administration refocused on winning the war on terror.

America removed a brutal dictator, and with $400 billion of your hard-earned money and our brave men and women's blood, sweat and tears, we have given the Iraqi people the hope of a better life through democracy. Now, it is the time for the Iraqi people to stand up.

It is their country. It is their children's future. For the first time in more than four years, the Iraqi government has a date by which it must be accountable for its people's own security. Our efforts must be focused on destroying Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and terror networks throughout the world. We must bring Osama bin Laden to justice. We must let Syria and Iran know that we are resolute in our mission and will hold them accountable.

I came to my decision after briefings with the generals, the secretaries of state and defense and the president's staff. I have spoken to soldiers and their loved ones. I have conferred with returning veterans. I have been to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and met with our wounded. I have spoken with Lee Hamilton and considered the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group he co-chaired and the 9/11 commission.

The conclusion was inescapable: The Sunni and Shia are engaged in a bloody religious civil war in Iraq and our troops should not be put in harm's way by being asked to be the local cop on the beat. While our presence may temporarily reduce the violence, we never will be able to change the Iraqis' hearts.

The House-passed bill is not a withdrawal from Iraq; it is an end to America's participation in Iraq's religious civil war. The president can continue to deploy troops in Iraq as long as he wants, provided they are fighting terrorists, training Iraqi security forces, and providing diplomatic protection, not engaging in nation-building or police work.

The emergency spending bill gives the president all the money he asked for, and more.

We increased financing for our troops in Afghanistan as they prepare for a spring offensive by a resurgent Taliban.

We stepped up and made sure that our returning soldiers had the money to get the best medical care available, and we increased financing for our veterans. We also provided the military with money to buy the equipment necessary to rebuild our army and get our troops combat-ready.

Finally, my vote exercises my constitutional responsibility to hold the president accountable to the American people for the promises he made to us when he chose to go to war in Iraq. After more than four years of mismanagement and broken promises, it would be unwise to give the administration another blank check.

An emergency supplemental bill it just that; it provides financing for all of America's emergencies including the Iraq War. Don't let politicians interested in winning back political power confuse the issue. Congress acted responsibly by increasing financing for veterans, by purchasing avian flu vaccine to protect our children and by taking care of farmers on the brink of bankruptcy. I would like to see those same politicians tell a citrus grower going broke, or a veteran waiting months to get an appointment, or a parent with a sick child that they are "pork projects."

I am proud that I voted to make America safer.

I am proud to have sent Osama bin Laden a message that America is committed to winning the war on terror and that we are no longer willing to allow a religious civil war to sap our strength.

I am proud to stand with our soldiers and our veterans and I am proud to represent the people of Florida's 16th Congressional District.


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