Congressman Duncan takes issue with Iraq war

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Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr. was one of only two Republicans on May 10 to vote to bring home troops from Iraq in nine months.

Members of the US House of Representatives voted down the bill 255-171. On May 15, Duncan addressed the House regarding the war in Iraq. The following is the text from that speech.

"Mr. Speaker:

We all respect, admire, and appreciate those who serve in our Nation’s Armed Services.

Serving in our military branches is certainly one of the most honorable ways anyone can serve our Country.

I believe national defense is one the very few legitimate functions of our national government, and certainly one of the most important.

However, we also need to recognize that our military has become the most gigantic bureaucracy in the history of the world.

And, like any huge bureaucracy, it does many good things, of course always at huge expense to the taxpayer.

And, like any huge bureaucracy, our military does many things that are wasteful or inefficient.

And, like any huge bureaucracy, it tries to gloss over or cover up its mistakes.

And, like any huge bureaucracy, it always wants to expand its mission and get more and more money.

Counting our regular appropriations bills, plus the supplemental appropriations, we will spend more than $750 billion on our military in the next fiscal year.

This is more than all the other nations of the world combined spend on their defense.

The GAO tells us we presently have $50 billion in unfunded future pension liabilities on top of our national debt of almost nine trillion dollars.

If we are going to have any hope of paying our military pensions and Social Security and other promises to our own people, we cannot keep giving so much to the Pentagon.

No matter how much we respect our military, and no matter how much we want to show our patriotism, we need to realize that there is waste in all huge bureaucracies, even in the Defense Department.

And there is a reason why we have always believed in civilian leadership of our Defense Department.

The admirals and generals will always say things are going great, because it is about like saying they are doing a bad job if they say things are not going well.

And, the military people know they can keep getting big increases in funding if they are involved all over the world.
However, it is both unconstitutional and unaffordable for us to be the policeman of the world.

National Defense is necessary and vital. International Defense by the U.S. is unnecessary and harmful in many ways.

Now we are engaged in a war in Iraq that is very unpopular with a big majority of the American people.

More importantly, every poll of Iraqis themselves shows that 78 to 80 percent of them want us to leave, except in the Kurdish areas.

They want our money, but they do not want us occupying Iraq.

Surely, we are not adopting a foreign policy that forces us on other people, one that says we are going to run Iraq even if the people there want us to leave.

A majority of the Iraqi Parliament has now co-sponsored a bill asking us to leave.

It is sure not traditional conservatism to carry on a war in a country that did not attack us, did not even threaten to attack us, and was not even capable of attacking us.

Our war in Iraq has greatly damaged the Republican Party and conservatism in general.

Even though this war has gone against every traditional conservative view, especially fiscal conservatism, it is unfortunately seen by most as a conservative war.

Even worse than the damage it has done to my party and a philosophy I believe in very deeply, is the harm it has done to our relations with other countries, especially other countries in the Middle East.

But most of all, of course, is the fact that so many young Americans have been killed and horribly wounded in a very
unnecessary war.

William F. Buckley, often called the godfather of conservatism, summed it up best in a column he wrote almost two years ago:

‘A respect for the power of the United States is in engendered by our success in engagements in which we take part. A point is reached when tenacity conveys not steadfastness of purpose but misapplication of pride. It can’t reasonably be disputed that if in the year ahead the situation in Iraq continues about as it has done in the past year, we will have suffered more than another 500 soldiers killed. Where there had been skepticism about our venture, there will be
contempt.’ "

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