You’ve probably heard me say it before. For the last two years, in Washington and all over our state, I have repeatedly called on President Bush to come up with a plan to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home.
President Bush refuses to do so. His only plan was to escalate this war, sending thousands more Americans into the middle of a bloody civil war without a clear mission. Congress and the American people have demanded leadership and it’s fallen on deaf ears. It’s time to move forward.
So far, we’ve lost more than 3,500 American soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors. Twenty of them Montanans. We spend $2 billion every week on the war. That’s $100,000 every minute of every hour of every day. I stand with the thousands and thousands of Montanans who agree we’re losing too much in money and precious lives. We can’t wait any longer to end this war and begin to bring our troops home after a job well done.
When we began this war more than four years ago, our military had three clear objectives. Find weapons of mass destruction. Topple the regime of Saddam Hussein. And ensure democracy in Iraq.
Since then, we’ve discovered that Iraq never had weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein has been captured and executed. And the Iraqi people have elected their own government. Without our troops that wouldn’t have been possible. It’s time to support them by bringing them home.
I have supported our troops since the beginning. I will continue to support them in the field and – just as importantly – after they come home. That’s something that our nation is falling behind on doing.
That brings me to the first part of my plan to bring troops home while strengthening our military. We must protect the mental and physical health of our troops. I’m co-sponsoring legislation requiring the military to keep U.S. troops at home for adequate rest and training before sending them overseas for additional tours. This measure is critical to the strength, health and readiness of our armed forces, and the Senate must pass it when we vote on it this week.
Second, we must redouble our efforts in Afghanistan, where Al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists are resurgent. As we pour our resources into Iraq, we’re neglecting the War on Terrorism. We must work with our allies to make this a worldwide effort. I also support keeping military intelligence trained on Iraq and across the Middle East to monitor suspected terrorist activity.
And finally, I support deauthorizing the war in Iraq on Oct. 11 of this year, five years after Congress first authorized force. This will require President Bush to return to Congress to clarify his reasons for war – and define a new mission – before we reauthorize it.
These three steps may not be the silver bullet to end this war. But they’re steps in the right direction.
We owe it to the thousands of men and women in Iraq, away from their families, friends and communities. They have done all that we have asked of them and more. That’s why I’ll continue to support them by fighting to bring them home.
Hope to see you soon.
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