Chuck Hagel has been on a tear lately, but it’s hard to beat this stirring indictment of the war and its enablers: “These young men and women that we put in Anbar province, in Iraq, in Baghdad are not beans. They’re real lives. And we better be damn sure we know what we’re doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder. We better be as sure as you can be.”
We are not about—this resolution, those who I’m associated with, I don’t think anybody in the Senate—if there is one senator in the United States Senate that is all about defeating America, making America’s position more dangerous, eroding our standing in the world, I don’t know of that person.
If you do, please let me know.
Every one of the 100 senators—Republican, Democrat, independent—that I know of has said, “How do we do this in a way that we look after, first, the national interests of America?” That still is rather significant.
I don’t question the president’s sincerity, his motivations in this. I never have. Nor anyone in his administration.
This president is sincere about what he said last night. He believes this is the right thing to do. I happen to disagree.
So, but we don’t, somehow, project to the outside world that there’s disagreement in our government, in our country, about the future of Iraq, I think that if that is what our role is going to be—and yes, Mr. Lugar, we can hold more hearings, oversight. I don’t know what that’s produced. We are going to have more oversight.
Part of the problem that we have, I think, is because we didn’t—we didn’t involve the Congress in this when we should have.
And I’m to blame. Every senator who’s been here the last four years has to take some responsibility for that.
But I will not sit here in this Congress of the United States at this important time for our country and in the world and not have something to say about this. And maybe I’ll be wrong. And maybe I have no political future. I don’t care about that.
But I don’t ever want to look back and have the regret that I didn’t have the courage and I didn’t do what I could to at least project something.
This resolution, by the way, does not tie the hands of the president of the United States. It does not tie the hands of the president of the United States in any way.
So I would go back to where I began, and pick up on a point that Chairman Lugar mentioned: coherence of strategy.
I don’t know how many United States senators believe we have a coherent strategy in Iraq. I don’t think we’ve ever had a coherent strategy.
In fact, I would even challenge the administration today to show us the plan that the president talked about the other night. There is no plan.
I happen to know Pentagon planners were on their way to the Central Com over the weekend. They haven’t even team B’ed this plan.
And my dear friend Dick Lugar talks about coherence of strategy. There is no strategy. This is a ping-pong game with American lives.
These young men and women that we put in Anbar province, in Iraq, in Baghdad are not beans. They’re real lives. And we better be damn sure we know what we’re doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder. We better be as sure as you can be.
And I want every one of you, every one of us, 100 senators to look in that camera, and you tell your people back home what you think. Don’t hide anymore; none of us.
That is the essence of our responsibility. And if we’re not willing to do it, we’re not worthy to be seated right here. We fail our country. If we don’t debate this, if we don’t debate this, we are not worthy of our country. We fail our country.