The $87-Billion Appropriation to Occupy Iraq
Excerpts from
Sen. Ted Kennedy's speech on the floor of the US Senate,
16 October 2003
...The trumped up reasons for going to war have collapsed. All the Administration's rationalizations as we prepared to go to war now stand revealed as "double-talk." The American people were told Saddam Hussein was building nuclear weapons. He was not. We were told he had stockpiles of other weapons of mass destruction. He did not. We were told he was involved in 9/11. He was not. We were told Iraq was attracting terrorists from Al Qaeda. It was not. We were told our soldiers would be viewed as liberators. They are not. We were told Iraq could pay for its own reconstruction. It cannot. We were told the war would make America safer. It has not. Before the war, week after week after week after week, we were told lie after lie after lie after lie. ....

So when the roll is called on this $87 billion legislation, which provides no effective conditions for genuine international participation anda clear change in policy in Iraq, I intend to vote no. A no vote is not a vote against supporting our troops. It is a vote to send the Administration back to the drawing board. It is a vote for a new policy — a policy worthy of the sacrifice our soldiers are making, a policy that restores America as a respected member of the family of nations, a policy that will make it easier, not far more difficult, to win the war against terrorism.

The amount of money is huge. It is 87 times what the federal government spends annually on after-school programs.

It is 7 times what President Bush proposed to spend on education for low-income schools in 2004.

It is 9 times what the federal government spends on special education each year.

It is 8 times what the government spends to help middle and low-income students go to college.

It is 15 times what the government spends on cancer research.

It is 27 times what the government spends on substance abuse and mental health treatment.

It is 58 times what the government spends on community health centers....

The Administration seeks to write a new history that defies the lessons of history. The most basic of those lessons is that we cannot rely primarily on military means as a solution to politically-inspired violence. In those circumstances, the tide of history rises squarely against military occupation.

The British learned that lesson in Northern Ireland. The French learned it in Algeria. The Russians learned it in Afghanistan and are re-learning it every day in Chechnya. America learned it in Vietnam, and we must not re-learn it in Iraq....

...In their joint memoir, "A World Transformed," President George H.W. Bush and his National Security Adviser, Brent Scowcroft, reflected on their own experiences with Iraq and the Gulf War in 1991. They had been criticized in some quarters for halting that war after their dramatic victory in Kuwait, instead of going on to Baghdad to depose Saddam Hussein.

Here is what they wrote: "Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in 'mission creep,' and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible...We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, there was no viable 'exit strategy' we could see...Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and perhaps barren--outcome."

They were right.

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This page was updated on Thursday, October 23, 2003 6:41 PM