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Congressman John Duncan

Representing the 2nd District of Tennessee

Endless Wars in Middle East More About Money Than Threats

June 24, 2015
Speeches

Mr. Speaker, the week before last, the greatly respected conservative columnist Thomas Sowell wrote:

"What lessons might we learn from the whole experience of the Iraq war? If nothing else, we should never again imagine that we can engage in nation building in the sweeping sense that term acquired in Iraq--least of all, building a democratic Arab nation in a region of the world that has never had such a thing in a history that goes back thousands of years."

The week before last, the longtime conservative leader David Keene wrote in the Washington Times about our Middle East wars:

"The concept of U.S. national interests was stretched beyond any rational meaning with the argument that 'democracies don't go to war with democracies,' so rebuilding the world in our own image was seen as our ultimate national interest."

Mr. Keene went on and said:

"America took on more than we could possibly handle. The result is a generation of young Americans who have never known peace, a decade in which thousands of our best have died or been maimed with little to show for their sacrifices, our enemies have multiplied, and the national debt has skyrocketed."

The week before last, the publisher of The American Conservative magazine, Jon Utley, wrote an article entitled: "12 Reasons America Doesn't Win Its Wars."  The Magazine said:

"Too many parties now benefit from perpetual warmongering for the U.S. to ever conclude its military conflicts."

Mr. Utley quoted conservative columnist Peggy Noonan, who wrote:

"We spend too much on the military, which not only adds to our debt, but guarantees that our weapons will be used."

She quoted one expert, who said:

"Policymakers will find uses for them to justify their expense, which will implicate us in crises that are none of our business."

Conservative icon William F. Buckley, shortly before he passed away, came out strongly against the war in Iraq. He wrote:

"A respect for the power of the United States is engendered by our success in engagements in which we take part. A point is reached when tenacity conveys not steadfastness of purpose but misapplication of pride."

He added that if the war dragged on, as it certainly has:

"There has been skepticism about our venture, there will be contempt."

A couple of weeks ago, we saw an Iraq army, which we have trained for years and on which we have spent megabillions, cutting and running at the first sign of a fight. We should not be sending our young men and women to lead and/or fight in any war where the people in that country are not willing to fight for themselves.

Mr. Speaker, fiscal conservatives should be the ones most horrified by and most opposed to the horrendous waste and trillions of dollars we have spent on these very unnecessary wars in the Middle East.

Last week, 19 Republicans voted for a resolution saying that we should bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. The Republican leadership of the Foreign Affairs Committee did not want any Republicans to speak in favor of that resolution, so Mr. Jones, Mr. Sanford, and Mr. Massie requested, and received, time from the Democratic sponsor, Mr. McGovern.

I did not want to do that, but I at least wanted to point out today that there has been nothing conservative about our policy of permanent, forever, endless war in the Middle East.

In his most famous speech, President Eisenhower warned us against the military industrial complex. We should not be going to war in wars that are more about money and power and prestige than they are about any serious threat to the United States. I think President Eisenhower would be shocked at how far we have gone down that path that he warned us against.

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