[Congressional Record Volume 152, Number 98 (Monday, July 24, 2006)]
[Pages S8114-S8116]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                            THE WAR IN IRAQ

  Mr. REID. Madam President, 1 month ago on June 22, the Senate held a 
debate about the raging and intractable war in Iraq. That debate, 
Democrats--led by Senators Levin and Jack Reed--gave voice to the 
concerns of the American people and advocated that the Bush 
administration change course in Iraq.
  We argued that the administration follow the law of the land. The law 
of the land is that the year 2006 will be a year of significant 
transition. That is the law. We argued that this year should be a year 
of transition, that we should follow the law with Iraqis taking charge 
of their own security and their own government so that American forces 
could be redeployed by the end of this year.
  Our plan would have given the Iraqi people their best chance for 
success, while also giving America the best chance to confront the 
growing threats of North Korea, Iraq, and terrorism around the world.
  Our plan would have engaged regional powers to help bring stability 
to Iraq and would have reminded the countries of the world of their 
commitment to invest in Iraq's long-term economic prosperity which 
seems to have been lost.
  Our plan would have refocused America's military, diplomatic, and 
economic might on terrorist threats that face us in Iraq and globally, 
including Osama bin Laden, who remains free after 5 years.
  Our plan would have tracked closely with the plan of our commanders 
on the ground in Iraq today, led namely by General Casey, who on their 
own have developed a similar strategy for success.
  Despite that fact, the majority of the Republicans chose not to join 
the Democrats in serious debate about Iraq. I think they put their 
political needs ahead of America's security.
  As they have in nearly every Iraq war debate, Republicans have 
blindly rubberstamped the President's mismanagement of this war and 
fell in line with his failed policy.
  One month later, after the debate on Levin-Reid, the consequence of 
``staying the course'' in Iraq is evident in every place.
  In the last month in Iraq, more than 3,000 Iraqis have been killed--
an average of 100 a day. And more than 100 were killed just yesterday.
  Pick up any newspaper. Here is today's. ``Bombings Kill at Least 66 
in Iraq.''
  If you read the article, it is a lot more than 66. The intense 
violence made last week one of the deadliest in Iraq.
  Read the article: 348 people killed, 6 of them police officers. Read 
the article: 34 dead. Read the article: 60 killed. Read the article: 24 
civilians killed.
  It doesn't talk about the hundreds and hundreds who have been wounded 
and injured, many of them for life.
  This is a civil war. As I said last week, I tepidly talked about 
civil war. But I decided that there was no reason to be tepid about 
it--that there is a civil war going on in Iraq.
  Take the New York Times from yesterday. There are lots of other 
places you could go to find the same thing. ``It's Official: There Is 
Now a Civil War in Iraq.''
  This wasn't written by somebody who is just passing by deciding to 
write an op-ed piece and they stick the headline on. He is Nicholas 
Sambanis, a professor of political science at Yale, author of ``Making 
War and Building Peace.'' He says, among other things:

       The question of whether a country has fallen into civil war 
     is often deliberately muddled for political reasons.

  We have had some muddling here.
  He goes on to say:

       But if the term ``civil war'' seeks to convey the condition 
     of a divided society engaged in destructive armed conflict, 
     then Iraq sadly fits the bill.

  The consequences of staying the course in Iraq is a full-blown civil 
  In the last month, nearly 3,000 additional Iraqis have been killed, 
50 American soldiers have been killed, 250 have been wounded, $13 
billion of taxpayer money has been spent since that debate. The price 
of gasoline is now, as reported in this morning's news, the highest 
ever, averaging more than $3 a gallon.
  Staying the course, North Korea, on July 4, tested new long-range 
  In the last month, Hezbollah has terrorized Israel.
  In the last month, al-Qaida found a new sanctuary, it appears, in 
large swaths of Somalia.
  These are the costs of ``staying the course'' in Iraq and of a Senate 
which rubberstamps what the President does.
  My question today is, how long will America be forced to pay these 
costs? The longer it takes for this Republican Congress to hold 
President Bush accountable for his mistakes, the less safe America 

  Democrats have asked for another Iraq debate before the August 
recess. I hope we have that opportunity because

[[Page S8115]]

the Republican leader said today that we are going to take up the 
Defense appropriations bill. I hope we would have an opportunity to do 
it there.
  We want to give rubberstamping Republicans another chance to demand 
that President Bush change course in Iraq--not because of any political 
point scoring but because national security clearly demands it.
  We live in a dangerous world, but nearly everywhere you look, from 
the Middle East to Asia, America's enemies have been emboldened by this 
administration's mismanagement of this conflict in Iraq. They are 
taking advantage of our damaged reputation in the world and the fact 
that Iraq has tied our hands to redouble their efforts and threaten us 
and our allies.
  The Middle East has faced problems, as we know, for decades. Every 
American President since World War II has struggled to bring freedom, 
stability, and prosperity to this region. The President washed his 
hands of what was going on with the Palestinians and the Israelis until 
the Intifada became so complex, with so much conflict, that he had to 
step in. But that took years into his first term of office.
  The war in Iraq has destabilized the Middle East and taken our 
attention and our resources away from other threats. That is without 
question. So far, the result of the Iraq war has been instability and 
no security. One of the biggest winners so far has been Iran. They 
continue to thumb their nose at our country. The war in Iraq has given 
it exactly what it wants: greater influence in Iraq and throughout the 
Middle East. The longer we go without a strategy for success in Iraq 
the stronger Iran gets and the more confident it is in supporting 
terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which is now terrorizing 
Lebanon and Israel.
  I believe Israel has every right to defend itself from these 
terrorist acts. While it defends itself, the United States should be 
standing by its side.
  Unfortunately, because Iraq has tied our hands and exhausted our 
resources and our reputation, the Bush administration has had to sit on 
the sidelines. The President was ineffective in finding any solution 
during the G8 Summit, and he went nearly 2 weeks without dispatching 
his Secretary of State to the region. Finally, yesterday, Secretary of 
State Rice left for the Middle East. Hopefully her surprise visit to 
Lebanon is not a continuation of the Bush photo-op foreign policy. 
``Mission Accomplished,'' ``Bring `em On.'' I hope it is not a photo-op 
again but a serious effort to follow the call for American leadership.
  The Bush administration's--as reported on the face of a major weekly 
magazine last week--cowboy diplomacy cannot be replaced by couch potato 
diplomacy where we sit and do nothing.
  Democrats have called for a special envoy to emphasize the need for 
full-time leadership. We need to do the hard work to put Iran back in 
the box and bring stability back to the Middle East. That job can be 
started but can't be finished by the Secretary of State during a brief 
visit there this week. What we need is a full-time special envoy--
someone who can work around the clock with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, 
the Europeans, and, yes, Russia and Israel.
  Together, we can bring some good out of this terrible situation by 
finding ways to support the Lebanese Government, continue our support 
for Israel, and disarm Hezbollah and ultimately contain the Iranian 
power. The challenge will be for this administration and its Republican 
rubberstamp allies in Congress to step up and do the job. We need a new 
  This week, the Iraqi Prime Minister will meet with President Bush and 
address a Joint Session of Congress here in Washington. When he is 
here, we need President Bush to communicate that our commitment in Iraq 
is not unlimited. He needs to announce a change of course in his 
failing policy.
  If we hope to live in a world that is safe and secure, we must end 
the open-ended commitment in Iraq that is costing this Nation $3 
billion each week and requires the deployment as we speak of at least 
125,000 of America's finest troops.
  We must transition the mission in Iraq so that we can marshal our 
resources to the other threats America faces such as Bin Laden, who, as 
I said, remains free after 5 years, Iran, North Korea, and many other 
troubled spots in the world.
  We must insure that the Senate is more than a rubberstamp for the 
executive branch. There are only 2 weeks before the August recess--
really just 6 voting days left. There are a number of important 
subjects that deserve our attention but none more important than the 
intractable war in Iraq.
  The Senate can no longer turn a blind eye to what is happening in 
Iraq. It is costing too many American lives, too many Iraqi lives, too 
many dollars, and too much of our national security.
  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, will the Democratic leader yield for a 
  Mr. REID. I would be happy to yield to my friend.
  Mr. DURBIN. Last year, we had bipartisan agreement on the Senate 
floor, and the agreement was that this year, the year 2006, would be a 
year of significant transition in Iraq. We spelled out what we had in 
mind, that the Iraqis would take on more responsibility for their own 
fate and their own future, that the United States troops would be able 
to start withdrawing and coming home in this year of 2006. I ask the 
Democratic leader, as he joins with me each morning reading about how 
Iraq is descending into a civil war, the number of innocent civilians 
who are being killed in Iraq, and the number of American troops who 
continue to lose their lives in Iraq, when we voted for significant 
transition in Iraq, is this what we had in mind?

  Mr. REID. I say to my friend, this was on a bipartisan vote. On a 
bill cosponsored by the two people who take care of our armed services, 
Senators Levin and Warner, 79 Senators voted for that, and the law of 
the country as we speak is that the year 2006 is to be a year of 
significant transition in Iraq, and the President, I believe, should 
follow that law and he is not doing that. I agree with my friend.
  Mr. DURBIN. I ask the Senator from Nevada if he would yield for this 
question. Then this year when the Defense authorization bill came 
forward, is it not true that the Democratic side offered another 
amendment in an attempt to strike a bipartisan position on foreign 
policy in Iraq, an amendment which was sponsored by Senator Levin of 
Michigan, Senator Reed of Rhode Island, who is a graduate of West 
Point, served in the United States Army, and that this amendment which 
we offered to our friends on the Republican side to join us this year 
said we would start a transition this year before the end of the 
calendar year by redeploying American troops outside of Iraq? This 
amendment we offered had 39 of 45 Democratic Senators supporting it and 
no Republican support.
  I would ask the Senator from Nevada, at the end of that Defense 
authorization bill, just a few weeks ago, was any position taken by the 
Republican side of the aisle that suggested any change in policy in 
  Mr. REID. I say to my friend, that is what is so concerning to me, 
that they are following--they, the Republican Senators, are following 
President Bush, stay the course, stay the course in Iraq. It breaks my 
heart, frankly. Every day I get up. This is just one page of the paper. 
I went through the deaths--hundreds of them. I didn't read here, but in 
the past week 1,000 people in Iraq have moved out; they are afraid. 
They move out of their neighborhoods. We have probably now estimated 
200,000 people in Iraq since the first of the year have had to move 
their homes. They have no place to go. They want to try to stay alive. 
The turmoil, the civil strife in that country, is unbelievable, and to 
think that this country's policy is to stay the course is not sensible.
  Mr. DURBIN. Again, if the Senator from Nevada will yield, as you 
watch the disintegration of the foreign policy under this 
administration, we find ourselves relying on the Chinese to try to 
negotiate some peaceful resolution in North Korea, we are relying on 
the Russians to try to find some way to approach the Iranians on their 
nuclear power, but we have no one to turn to when it comes to Iraq. 
This was our own creation, with British help and some other countries, 
but primarily American soldiers and American resources. I would ask the 
Senator from Nevada, is his point on the floor today

[[Page S8116]]

that the bipartisan Senate should not go home for the August recess 
without taking up this issue? We have spent weeks, the Republican 
leadership has spent weeks in the Senate on meaningless constitutional 
amendments and issues that bear little relevance to the daily lives of 
Americans, but the Senator from Nevada has to feel, as do I, we have an 
obligation to these soldiers and their families before we leave in 
August to have a meaningful debate on this floor about how to make 
certain that we end up in Iraq with our mission truly accomplished. I 
ask the Senator from Nevada, is that the purpose of his coming to the 
  Mr. REID. First, my coming here is just as the Senator indicated. How 
can we, the Senate of our country, leave here with the raging civil war 
going on and our troops are right in the middle of it? How can we leave 
here without changing the course in Iraq? That is why I am here. It is 
a cry for help. We need our Republican colleagues to speak out. This 
blind allegiance to the President is not good for our country.
  Mr. DURBIN. I thank the Senator from Nevada for yielding for the 
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from New Mexico.
  Mr. BINGAMAN. Madam President, I ask permission to speak as if in 
morning business.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senate is in morning business.
  Mr. BINGAMAN. I thank the Chair.