Monday, January 01, 2007

Hoyer and Iraq

Finding out where Steny Hoyer now stands on Iraq isn't easy. There is very little of recent vintage on Iraq on his Congressional website. (By 'recent' I mean since the February 2006 bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra. It's been more or less open civil war between Sunni and Shi'ite Arabs in Iraq since then.) Under "Issues" in his website, there is no "Iraq" category, just one for "Defense, National Security, and Veterans," where Hoyer has much to say about homeland security and the wellbeing of veterans, but little to say about the Iraq War.

A bit of Googling, though, turned up a video feature, "Talk to Power," on Yahoo! News, where Hoyer took questions on December 1, 2006 - just one month ago today. Hoyer was asked a question about Iraq, and I've transcribed his answer from the video:
Q. from Yahoo! reader: "No matter who or what is to blame, it's undeniable that we caused the mess in Iraq. Therefore we have a profound ethical obligation to the Iraqis to do all we can to clean it up. How can we morally consider abandoning them? Why are no politicans or pundits, Republican or Democratic, willing to talk about this? How can we expect to be considered a beacon of morality to the world if we don't clean up our messes?"

Rep. Hoyer: Iraq, obviously, is a[n] extraordinary challenge not just to the United States, not just to Iraqis, but to indeed the world. It is a global responsibility, not just a U.S. responsibility. Having said that, the questioner is correct: it was our initiation of action that has gotten Iraq to where it is today.

The fact is that I have advocated, and the Democratic party has advocated, not staying the course, but setting a new direction in Iraq. Staying the course, as the President has suggested, is clearly a policy that has not worked and is not working. The American people on November 7 made it very clear that they don't believe it's a policy that's working.

At the same time, however, we need to ensure that as we transition from the present, almost sole, responsibility of the U.S. armed forces for maintaining stability in Iraq, as we transition to Iraq responsibility for maintaining security and its own defense, that we do so in a way that provides for the opportunity for success in Iraq, of stabilizing that country, of making it secure and providing an environment in which minority rights can be protected and in which an economy can grow to provide jobs and quality of life for its people.

Ultimately, however, the Iraqis themselves must take responsibility for that accomplishment; it cannot be imposed upon them, either by the United States or by others. I have urged, and Democrats have urged, that the President, in talking to the Prime Minister, Mr. Maliki, make it clear to him that the United States in the near future - that may be six months, it may be a year - in the near future is going to be turning over primary responsibility to the Iraqis, redeploying our troops out of harm's way, and will work with international partners, both on a bilateral basis and on a multilateral basis, with neighboring states who themselves are concerned about stability in Iraq, to accomplish that stability. But the questioner is correct - the United States has a responsibility.

But I would suggest as well that the international community has a responsibility. After all, it was the international community that said Saddam Hussein had violated international law by invading Kuwait. It was the international community that fashioned the armed forces to force him out of Kuwait and back to Baghdad. It was the international community that imposed upon him conditions, and it was the United Nations unanimouisly determining that he hadn't complied with those conditions, that ultimately led to the action that we saw the United States and others take in 2003.
In terms of getting Hoyer's opinion on the war, this is as good as it gets right now - and it's pretty disappointing. It's hard to buy into his argument that the international community shares responsibility, when the world did what it did in Iraq at our urging. And overlooked in his final paragraph is the fact that the U.N. never authorized the U.S. to invade Iraq; that was our unilateral decision.

It's also hard, given the current situation, to give much credence to a veteran politician who says "as we transition to Iraq responsibility for maintaining security and its own defense, that we do so in a way that provides for the opportunity for success in Iraq, of stabilizing that country, of making it secure and providing an environment in which minority rights can be protected and in which an economy can grow to provide jobs and quality of life for its people." I mean, every kid would like a pony, but right now, even the prospects of stability look like a longshot. A growing economy and protection of minority rights are beyond hope in Iraq for the foreseeable future, and little we do, in terms of what we do whether in staying or going, can make those outcomes more than infinitesimally more likely.

But at least Hoyer does believe that, within the next 6-12 months, we should be redeploying our troops out of harm's way. He probably doesn't mean withdrawing them from Iraq (I'd assume he means to a combination of Kuwait and our "permanent bases," but that's strictly my assumption - he didn't say), but you take what you can get.

3 Comments:

Blogger ArthurKC said...

Now would be a good time for some of his constitutents to call his office with some narrow questions, such as: do you support a "surge" in Iraq? Would you support legislation that would fund current troop levels but deny funding for any increase in those levels? By what date should our troops begin to withdraw? Why is it the responsibility of the international community to clean up the mess we created? Should the US keep permanent bases in Iraq?

1:10 PM  
Blogger Rufus said...

I agree - and since I'm a constituent of his, I'll be getting on the phone!

8:37 PM  
Blogger ArthurKC said...

Rufus,

We'll look here for your report. Good luck.

7:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home