Republicans on Congress, Somalia and Iraq

January 30, 2007 at 2:52 pm | Posted in American politics, conservatives, Iraq, Republicans, Somalia | 6 Comments

Glen Greenwald is good, man, he’s really good. He does his research. I’m sure John McCain doesn’t want the following quote to be advertised too frequently these days, but this is what Mr. McCain said in 1993 during Somalia. Read his quote and ask yourself why Republicans advocated a cut and run policy, and not give President Clinton “a chance” as Republicans now ask Democrats to do.

There is no reason for the United States of America to remain in Somalia. The American people want them home, I believe the majority of Congress wants them home, and to set an artificial date of March 31 or even February 1, in my view, is not acceptable. The criteria should be to bring them home as rapidly and safely as possible, an evolution which I think could be completed in a matter of weeks.

Our continued military presence in Somalia allows another situation to arise which could then lead to the wounding, killing or capture of American fighting men and women. We should do all in our power to avoid that.

I listened carefully to the President’s remarks at a news conference that he held earlier today. I heard nothing in his discussion of the issue that would persuade me that further U.S. military involvement in the area is necessary. In fact, his remarks have persuaded me more profoundly that we should leave and leave soon.

Dates certain, Mr. President, are not the criteria here. What is the criteria and what should be the criteria is our immediate, orderly withdrawal from Somalia. And if we do not do that and other Americans die, other Americans are wounded, other Americans are captured because we stay too long–longer than necessary–then I would say that the responsibilities for that lie with the Congress of the United States who did not exercise their authority under the Constitution of the United States and mandate that they be brought home quickly and safely as possible. . . .

Read that again: “I would say that the responsibilities for that lie with the Congress of the United States who did not exercise their authority under the Constitution of the United States and mandate that they be brought home quickly and safely as possible”. So McCain felt that because he disagreed with the President, it was Congress’s Constitutional responsibility to mandate the immediate redeployment of American forces from Somalia. Hmmmm…..

I know that this debate is going to go on this afternoon and I have a lot more to say, but the argument that somehow the United States would suffer a loss to our prestige and our viability, as far as the No. 1 superpower in the world, I think is baloney. The fact is, we won the cold war. The fact is, we won the Persian Gulf conflict. And the fact is that the United States is still the only major world superpower.

I can tell you what will erode our prestige. I can tell you what will hurt our viability as the world’s superpower, and that is if we enmesh ourselves in a drawn-out situation which entails the loss of American lives, more debacles like the one we saw with the failed mission to capture Aideed’s lieutenants, using American forces, and that then will be what hurts our prestige.

So, to John McCain, what hurts our viability, our prestige, our standing in the world is when we “enmesh ourselves in a drawn-out situation which entails the loss of American lives.” Interesting. Why doesn’t Iraq fit this picture, Mr. McCain?

We suffered a terrible tragedy in Beirut, Mr. President; 240 young marines lost their lives, but we got out. Now is the time for us to get out of Somalia as rapidly and as promptly and as safely as possible.

Wow! John McCain here believes that our cut and run from Beirut is the path to follow…..wow!

I, along with many others, will have an amendment that says exactly that. It does not give any date certain. It does not say anything about any other missions that the United States may need or feels it needs to carry out. It will say that we should get out as rapidly and orderly as possible.

I agree. Let’s get out of Iraq as “rapidly and orderly as possible.”

Senator Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho had the following to say:

It is time for the Senate of the United States to get on with the debate, to get on with the vote, and to get the American troops home.

Senator Slade Gorton said the following:

We are in a disaster, Mr. President. If we had retreated earlier, we would have left fewer dead Americans behind. It is time to retreat now and leave no more dead Americans behind and to learn the lesson that American power should be used only where we have a clear stake in a conflict, a clear goal to be achieved, the clear means to reach that goal, and the potential of clear support on the part of the American people.

Senator Jesse Helms said the following:

As a matter of fact, while we are at it, it is high time we reviewed the War Powers Act, which, in the judgment of this Senator, should never have been passed in the first place. The sole constitutional authority to declare war rests, according to our Founding Fathers, right here in the Congress of the United States, and not on Pennsylvania Avenue. I voted against the War Powers Act. If it were to come up again today, I would vote against it. I have never regretted my opposition to it.

Senator Alan Simpson said the following:

What I cannot continue to support is the continuing endangerment of Americans in the service of a policy that remains absolutely mysterious and totally muddled.

So, my dear Republicans, what has changed? Why could you demand Congress control the use of troops in Somalia in 1993, and not now in Iraq in 2007? Disingenuous and deceitful the pack of you are!

Finally, I wrote about this in a previous post, with more quotes from Senator Kay Hutchinson and Senator Bob Dole as well, who also advocated a cut and run policy in Somalia. And, oh yeah, Clinton? Did he advocate a cut and run back then? Nope. This is what he said in 1993:

And make no mistake about it, if we were to leave Somalia tomorrow, other nations would leave, too. Chaos would resume, the relief effort would stop and starvation soon would return. That knowledge has led us to continue our mission. . . .

If we leave them now, those embers will reignite into flames and people will die again. If we stay a short while longer and do the right things, we’ve got a reasonable chance of cooling off the embers and getting other firefighters to take our place. . .

So, now, we face a choice. Do we leave when the job gets tough or when the job is well done? Do we invite the return of mass suffering or do we leave in a way that gives the Somalis a decent chance to survive? Recently, Gen. Colin Powell said this about our choices in Somalia: “Because things get difficult, you don’t cut and run. You work the problem and try to find a correct solution.” . . .

So let us finish the work we set out to do. Let us demonstrate to the world, as generations of Americans have done before us, that when Americans take on a challenge, they do the job right.

Interesting, no?

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  1. Quite interesting. So are you agreeing with Republicans or with Democrats here? Because while your quotes show some apparently partisan hypocrisy by Sen McCain and others, it also shows the same of President Clinton and those that supported him.

    Or perhaps the nature of the thing changed. Here’s what Slate wrote shortly after 9/11:

    Bin Laden has strategic reasons to believe in terrorism, too. The Muslim victory over the Soviet Union in Afghanistan showed him that superpowers are not so superpowerful. And the ignominious American withdrawal from Somalia—following a Bin Laden connected attack—convinced him that the United States is morally weak. The U.S. soldier is “a paper tiger” who crumples after “a few blows.”

    It looks like Senator McCain was wrong, no?

  2. http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110002091

    President Bush the Elder sent U.S. forces into Somalia in December 1992 to aid the United Nations in relieving a massive famine. In May of 1993, four months into his term, President Clinton declared that mission accomplished and pulled out most of the U.S. forces. In a speech on the South Lawn to associate himself with the effort, he extolled the decision to intervene: “If all of you who served had not gone, it is absolutely certain that tens of thousands would have died by now.” It was a “successful mission,” he said, and “proved yet again that American leadership can help to mobilize international action …”

    But back in Somalia, with no U.S. deterrent, Somalia’s warlords began fighting again. After a series of bloody attacks on U.N. peacekeepers, Mr. Clinton launched a new mission: In August 1993, he sent in a force of Rangers and Special Forces units to capture the brutal warlord Mohammad Farrah Aidid and restore order.

    That force asked for heavy armor — in the form of Abrams tanks and Bradley armored vehicles — as well as the AC-130 gunship, but the Clinton Administration denied those requests. On October 3 on a mission to pick up Aidid, two Black Hawks were unexpectedly shot down; in the ensuing urban gun battle, 18 American soldiers were killed and another 73 injured.

    Many military experts believe that if the U.S. forces had had armor, fewer would have died. Secretary of Defense Les Aspin resigned two months after Somalia, having acknowledged that his decision on the armor had been an error. A 1994 Senate Armed Services Committee investigation reached the same conclusion. But perhaps the most poignant statement came from retired Lieutenant Colonel Larry Joyce, father of Sergeant Casey Joyce, a Ranger killed in Mogadishu: “Had there been armor … I contend that my son would probably be alive today …”

    Mr. Clinton’s responsibility in Somalia doesn’t stop there. Despite the mistakes that October day, Aidid had been struck a blow. The U.S. military, with 18 dead, wanted nothing more than to finish what it had started. Mr. Clinton instead aborted the mission. The U.S. released the criminals it had captured that same day at such great cost, and the U.N., lacking U.S. support, was powerless to keep order. Somalia remains a lawless, impoverished nation. Worse, the terrorists of al Qaeda interpreted the U.S. retreat from Somalia as a sign of American weakness that may have convinced them we could be induced to retreat from the Middle East if they took their attacks to the U.S. homeland.

  3. It’s nice to know that Presidents of the US have a consistent habit of sending troops into the fray while sporting serious deficiencies of life-protecting armor. Maybe it comes from watching too many movies portraying American super-soldiers as indestructable, morally superior fighting machines.

    “Air Force One” is particularly laughable these days. Originally, I perceived it as a criticism of President Clinton, but now, when I try to imagine George W. Bush as the hero of the movie, it’s even funnier.

  4. Hi Daniel:

    Notice you have a link to The Washington Note in your right column. This gets one to a preview of:
    Zbigniew Brzezinski Calls Iraq War a Historic, Strategic and Moral Calamity & Says Stop the Trappings of Colonial Tutelage, which Steve asserts will be offered in testimony tomorrow morning in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 9:30 a.m.

    While some Senators are still under the illusion that they can/must save the plantation and continue this charade , it appears the charade is over.

  5. Cameron,

    My point here was simply to show that Republicans are being hypocritical in simply bashing Democrats as cut and run without listening to their reasons, because they too advocated a cut and run.

    I personally don’t care if you call for a withdrawal or call for an increase, an escalation. But either way, don’t attack the other for asking for the opposite you do. That’s what I’m saying.

    Personally, I think we should have had more troops in Somalia and done it right. Personally I think we should have had 500,000 troops in Iraq and done it right from the start. I still would have been against the war in Iraq, even with that many troops because the war was sold on false premises. Somalia was not sold on false premises. Everybody knew what the battle was going to be about. There was no question. The question there was simply how much we really wanted it. In Iraq, just what were we fighting for again? WMDs? Where are they?

  6. Erich,

    Yeah, I saw Brzezinski’s testimony to Congress. Would that more Americans see past this charlatan act!


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