November 18, 2005
Statement in the US Congress From Congresswoman Cynthia
McKinney of Georgia on the Withdrawal of American military
forces From Iraq
The Republicans in this House have done a heinous thing:
they have insulted one of the deans of this House in an
unthinkable and unconscionable way.
They took his words and contorted them; they took his
heartfelt sentiments and spun them. They took his resolution
and deformed it: in a cheap effort to silence dissent in the
House of Representatives.
The Republicans should be roundly criticized for this
reprehensible act. They have perpetrated a fraud on the
House of Representatives just as they have defrauded the
By twisting the issue around, the Republicans are trying to
set a trap for the Democrats. A "no" vote for this
Resolution will obscure the fact that there is strong support
for withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. I am voting "yes" on
this Resolution for an orderly withdrawal of US forces from
Iraq despite the convoluted motives behind the Republican
Resolution. I am voting to support our troops by bringing
them home now in an orderly withdrawal.
Sadly, if we call for an end to the occupation, some say that
we have no love for the Iraqi people, that we would abandon
them to tyrants and thugs.
Let us consider some history. The Republicans make great hay
about Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons against the
Iranians and the Kurds. But when that attack was made in
1988, it was Democrats who moved a resolution to condemn
those attacks, and the Reagan White House quashed the bill in
the Senate, because at that time the Republicans considered
Saddam one of our own.
So in 1988, who abandoned the Iraqi people to tyrants and a
In voting for this bill, let me be perfectly clear that I am
not saying the United States should exit Iraq without a plan.
I agree with Mr. Murtha that security and stability in Iraq
should be pursued through diplomacy. I simply want to vote
yes to an orderly withdrawal from Iraq. And let me explain
Prior to its invasion, Iraq had not one (not one!) instance
of suicide attacks in its history. Research shows a 100%
correlation between suicide attacks and the presence of
foreign combat troops in a host country. And experience also
shows that suicide attacks abate when foreign occupation
troops are withdrawn. The US invasion and occupation has
destabilized Iraq and Iraq will only return to stability once
this occupation ends.
We must be willing to face the fact that the presence of US
combat troops is itself a major inspiration to the forces
attacking our troops. Moreover, we must be willing to
acknowledge that the forces attacking our troops are able to
recruit suicide attackers because suicide attacks are largely
motivated by revenge for the loss of loved ones. And Iraqis
have lost so many loved ones as a result of America's two
wars against Iraq.
In 1996, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said on CBS
that the lives of 500,000 children dead from sanctions
were "worth the price" of containing Saddam Hussein. When
pressed to defend this reprehensible position she went on to
explain that she did not want US Troops to have to fight the
Gulf War again. Nor did I. But what happened? We fought a
second gulf war. And now over 2,000 American soldiers lie
dead. And I expect the voices of concern for Iraqi civilian
casualties, whose deaths the Pentagon likes to brush aside
as "collateral damage" are too few, indeed. A report from
Johns Hopkins suggests that over 100,000 civilians have died
in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, most of them violent
deaths and most as "collateral damage" from US forces. The
accuracy of the 100,000 can and should be debated. Yet our
media, while quick to cover attacks on civilians by insurgent
forces in Iraq, have given us a blackout on Iraqi civilian
deaths at the hands of US combat forces.
Yet let us remember that the United States and its allies
imposed a severe policy of sanctions on the people of Iraq
from 1990 to 2003. UNICEF and World Health Organization
studies based on infant mortality studies showed a 500,000
increase in mortality of Iraqi children under 5 over trends
that existed before sanctions. From this, it was widely
assumed that over 1 million Iraqi deaths for all age groups
could be attributed to sanctions between 1990 and 1998. And
not only were there 5 more years of sanctions before the
invasion, but the war since the invasion caused most aid
groups to leave Iraq. So for areas not touched by
reconstruction efforts, the humanitarian situation has
deteriorated further. How many more Iraqi lives have been
lost through hunger and deprivation since the occupation?
And what kind of an occupier have we been? We have all seen
the photos of victims of US torture in Abu Ghraib prison.
That's where Saddam used to send his political enemies to be
tortured, and now many Iraqis quietly, cautiously ask: "So
what has changed?"
A recent video documentary confirms that US forces used white
phosphorous against civilian neighborhoods in the US attack on
Fallujah. Civilians and insurgents were burned alive by these
weapons. We also now know that US forces have used MK77, a
napalm-like incendiary weapon, even though napalm has been
outlawed by the United Nations.
With the images of tortured detainees, and the images of
Iraqi civilians burned alive by US incendiary weapons now
circulating the globe, our reputation on the world stage has
been severely damaged.
If America wants to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi
people, we as a people must be willing to face the pain and
death and suffering we have brought to the Iraqi people with
bombs, sanctions and occupation, even if we believe our
actions were driven by the most altruistic of reasons. We
must acknowledge our role in enforcing the policy of
sanctions for 12 years after the extensive 1991 bombing in
which we bombed infrastructure targets in direct violation of
the Geneva Conventions.
We must also be ready to face the fact that the United States
once provided support for the tyrant we deposed in the name
of liberating the Iraqi people. These are events that our
soldiers are too young to remember. I believe our young men
and women in uniform are very sincere in their belief that
their sacrifice is made in the name of helping the Iraqi
people. But it is not they who set the policy. They take
orders from the Commander-in-Chief and the Congress. It is
we who bear the responsibility of weighing our decisions in a
historical context, and it is we who must consider the
gravest decision of whether or not to go to war based upon
the history, the facts, and the truth.
Sadly, however, our country is at war in Iraq based on a lie
told to the American people. The entire war was based
premised on a sales pitch—that Iraq had weapons of mass
destruction menacing the United States—that turned out to be
I have too many dead soldiers in my district; too many from
my home state. Too many homeless veterans on our streets and
in our neighborhoods.
America has sacrificed too many young soldiers' lives, too
many young soldiers' mangled bodies, to the Bush war machine.
I will not vote to give one more soldier to the George W.
Bush/Dick Cheney war machine. I will not give one more
dollar for a war riddled with conspicuous profiteering.
Tonight I speak as one who has at times been the only Member
of this Body at antiwar demonstrations calling for
withdrawal. And I won't stop calling for withdrawal.
I was opposed to this war before there was a war; I was
opposed to the war during the war; and I am opposed to this
war now--even though it's supposed to be over.
A vote on war is the single most important vote we can make
in this House. I understand the feelings of my colleagues on
both sides of the aisle who might be severely conflicted by
the decision we have to make here tonight. But the facts of
US occupation of Iraq are also very clear. The occupation is
headed down a dead end because so long as US combat forces
patrol Iraq, there will be an Iraqi insurgency against it.
I urge that we pursue an orderly withdrawal from Iraq and
pursue, along with our allies, a diplomatic solution to the
situation in Iraq, supporting the aspirations of the Iraqi
people through support for democratic processes.