AMERICA'S INVOLVEMENT IN IRAQ:
DEFENDING THE ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE U.S.A.
By Thomas G. Tancredo
I disagree with the President on many issues, and I have not been hesitant to express my opinions when I do disagree. But on the issue of Iraq, let me just present a few ideas that may, I hope, stimulate some thinking about whether or not we were right to do what we did in Iraq.
I would ask for all of us to think about what pundits and political opponents would have said if, at some point in time between, say, 1933, when Adolf Hitler took power in Germany, and 1939, when finally a good portion of the world decided to go to war against Hitler, the United States and Great Britain and as many other countries as would join us had taken a very, very bold premptive action? That action would have been taken before any sort of aggressive action had been taken by Germany and Hitler against the West, against the Allies. The Allied action would have been taken before Poland was invaded, even before the German invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Could we imagine what would have happened on the U.S. House floor and throughout the world? Really, in terms of the reaction, what would have happened if America and a group of nation-states allied with America had taken preemptive action and stopped Hitler, if we had gone into Germany, if we had deposed Hitler and attempted to bring about a different and truly constitutional democratic political regime?
Well, certainly there would have been an awful lot of second guessing. Certainly there would have been people here on the floor of the House talking about the fact that we really do not know for sure whether V-1 and V-2 rockets were being developed. Maybe the hard evidence would not have been available at the time. And so where were we? Why were we doing such things and was it not against all rules of engagement? Was it not something for which we should be challenging our national leadership, denouncing the Roosevelt administration, and saying it did the wrong thing?
We did not have all of the very specific information that we needed to make this decision. Could it be that we would have been questioning whether or not Hitler's intention would have been to, in fact, conduct a program of thoroughgoing genocide and bring about the "final solution'' for all the Jews in the world?
All these things would have been speculative, certainly. We could not have perhaps proven that that was Hitler's intent. Perhaps, we would have been without all of the hard evidence to bring in front of the world body, the League of Nations, to prove that the decision we made to preemptively act was right. But if we had done so, just think about what would have been the outcome of that decision and that action. Fifty million people died as a result of our unwillingness to take action. Untold national treasure had to be expended; and, of course, hundreds of thousands of American lives were lost to try and stop Hitler and the Axis powers after they made their intentions perfectly clear.
Now, I think that there is a lesson to be learned here, and it is that, at some point in time, it is imperative that the civilized world take action -- in fact, take preemptive action -- to try to prevent an occurrence similar to World War II. If we could have done that in 1933 and 1939, now knowing what was the outcome of World War II, knowing what it took to actually stop Hitler when we finally chose to get involved, who would suggest that we should not have taken preemptive action?
Does anyone really believe that we should have waited, knowing now what we know? Does anybody believe that we should have waited for Hitler and the Japanese Empire to strike first? Well, we did. That is history. And we know the outcome. So I will suggest to the House of Representatives that there was a great deal of evidence presented not just to the United States but to many other countries and many other intelligence networks around the world that would lead us to believe that there was a problem in the making in Iraq. No one, not a single person has ever denied the fact that Iraq was in the process of developing nuclear weaponry and weapons of mass destruction; and, of course, we knew that they had used similar weapons in the past. So that was not a question.
The question is would Saddam Hussein have actually used those weapons, had he gotten ahold of them? How long would it have taken for Iraq to actually obtain those weapons? Those are questions we do not know the answer to right now, but, with all of the empirical evidence that we have in front of us, we can be fairly sure that the Iraqis under Saddam Hussein would have developed the weapons and that they would have used those weapons. Another consideration: What if the weapons became disposable to the two sons of Saddam Hussein, Uday and Qusay? Does anybody really believe that they would like to live in a world where those two guys would have the ability to push the button?
Well, now they are gone. Saddam is in custody. Uday and Qusay are history. So now we can stand on the floor of the House and we can get on all of the talk shows and say we really did not have all of that much to worry about. It really was not worth the expenditure of our resources, both human and financial. Well, maybe not.
But I have to say that everything we know about history and everything that we absolutely and unequivocally know about the late Baathist regime in Iraq would lead us to believe that the action we took eventually would end up saving a lot of lives. Moreover, we are now engaged in a very difficult process. and that is to develop and install constitutional democracy in Iraq, to plant the seeds of constitutional democracy in an area of the world in which, of course, it is a very alien idea. And the task is incredible, it is true, but think of the task we faced when we chose to rebuild Germany and Japan and to rebuild the governmental systems in those countries on constitutional democratic models. In Japan, of course, constitutional democracy had never ever existed before, and in Germany, it had been bastardized. But we undertook the huge, monumental task of constitutionalizing and democratizing Germany and Japan.
In 1946, 1947 and 1948, people could have said: "Look at the problems we are facing. How come we have not been able to construct constitutional democratic political systems over there by now? Why are American troops still occupying Germany and Japan? Why are our people still at risk? Why are we spending hundreds of millions of dollars [which would equate in today's terms to hundreds of billions of dollars] in the rebuilding of both Japan and Germany? Why are we doing it?"
These critics of U.S. foreign and national security might have been over there in Germany and Japan or they might have been over here on the House floor, in either case, saying, at that time, the same things that present critics are saying about the U.S. presence in Iraq. I know that is true.
I am not saying that the questions being raised by the critics are not legitimate questions and that they should not be raised. All I am saying to you is that we have history on our side. We know what happens when you do not undertake the task, and we know what happens when you do in fact persevere, when you say we are going to rebuild these countries, it is going to take a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of effort, since they are not used to the concepts of constitutionalism and representative democracy, But didn't performing this task in Japan and Western Europe work out to the benefit of humanity? Of course it did.
Who argues that we should not have rebuilt Japan and Western Europe? Japan and the countries of Western Europe became prosperous. They became willing to accept the ideas and ideals of Western Civilization and became accustomed to maintaining and operating constitutuional democratic systems of government. A world without aggressive, militaristic, and highly authoritarian political regimes in Germany and Japan has certainly been a benefit to humanity.
In terms of the time frame that has expired between the ending of major hostility and the world today, it is a blink of the eye. Think how long it took for the United States of America to perfect the concept of a republic based on constitutional democratic ideals. It did not happen overnight. You may recall that, at the end of the War of the American Revolution, many people went to George Washington and said, "We want you to be king." And, of course, Washington refused and said that is not why we fought a war against a king. That is not the kind of government we were going to establish. Even then, of course, we did not warm very quickly to the concept of a constitutional democratic republic.
The Articles of Confederation, our first national constitution, were problematic. They did not actually address all of the problems the country then faced, particularly the problem of finding a way to pull the thirteen states together in a viable union that could speak and act for the entire American nation, a central government operating in accordance with the law and within the limits preescribed by the law, yet possessing powers sufficient to enable it to effectively maintain domestic order and protect the nation against foreign enemies.
Today we are watching Iraq as it goes through this process, and we are saying, gee, whiz, even their constitution, or the lead up to the constitution, is problematic. Even what we have already developed in Iraq is problematic, since we still do not know exactly what the role of religion will be in Iraq.
Well, you may recall that we did not know exactly what the role of slavery would be in the United States. We refused to address the issue at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, for fear we could not come to an agreement on the issue, and bringing it up would be so controversial and divisive that the Convention delegates would fail to agree on a proposed Constitution for submission to the thirteen states. So we put off resolution of the slavery issue, and that decision left a festering sore on the American body politic, a sore which, admittedly, led to a lot of controversy and violence, culminating in the Civil War and the Reconstruction Era. But the slavery issue was settled, though with much fighting and bloodshed. The American Republic remained and we now still present to the world the best possible hope for stable government and for peace.
But a stable and peaceful order did not come easily to What was British North America and is now the United States of America. The stable and peaceful order did not happen when British General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. Lots of disorderly and unpleasant things, even bloodshed, followed the surrender of the British in the War of the American Revolution.
A peaceful and stable order will not come easily in Iraq. Constitutional democracy will not come easily to that country. It is certainly true that many trials and tribulations lay ahead. There will be much fighting and bloodshed. Should we abandon our endeavor in Iraq because there are these obstacles? Shall we walk away because the challenge is very, very difficult? Well, that is the proposition that is put before us. And I suggest to you that planting constitutional democracy and the concept of a free republic in a part of the world where it had not heretofore existed is a worthy endeavor.
I also suggest to my colleagues that our efforts in Iraq up to this time can be described as noble.
The Problem of Rogue States:
Iraq as a Case History
The Middle East & the Arabs
Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
Page Three Page Two Page One
War & Peace in the Real World
Page Two Page One
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
U.S. National Security Strategy
Thomas G. Tancredo is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the Sixth Congressional District
of Colorado. Congressman Tancredo presented the foregoing statement, on March 2, 2004, as a speech from the floor of the
House of Representatives.
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