Senate Democrats

Menendez: Going Into Sixth Year Of Iraq War, America Can Ill Afford The Heavy Toll On Our Troops And Our Economy

Washington, DC—Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey delivers this week’s Democratic Radio Address as the war in Iraq enters its sixth year.  Menendez calls on the President to change course in Iraq and give Americans an honest assessment of how this war hurts our military’s readiness – leaving us unprepared for the next crisis – and further weakens our economy. 

The text of the radio address, as delivered, is below:

“Good morning. I’m Bob Menendez, United States Senator from New Jersey.  This past Wednesday marked the beginning of the sixth year of the war in Iraq.  That day, just like every other, Democrats and Republicans stood together in praise of our courageous men and women who have served and sacrificed throughout this long war.  Thirty-thousand of them have been wounded, many gravely.  Nearly 4,000 have lost their lives. 

“Our troops represent the best America has to offer.  They have answered every call and met every goal with a valor that will never be forgotten.  When it comes to honoring and supporting our troops and their families, Democrats and Republicans stand as one.

“But when it comes to the decisions that got us into the war – and the flawed policies that keep us there – Democrats stand firmly apart from our Republican friends.  In 2003, President Bush took us to war on the wings of a lie.  With each passing year, we’ve heard the same false promises of victory, the same excuses for failures from the Iraqi government, and the same refusal from President Bush to admit his mistakes.

“Now, as this war enters its sixth year, the American people are still waiting to hear the straight talk we deserve.  Instead of making more sweeping claims of victory, as he did this week, it’s time for the President to face the reality of the situation we’re in.

“President Bush should tell us the truth – that after thousands of lives lost and perhaps trillions of American taxpayer dollars, Iraq remains crippled by violence and corruption, still light years from building a stable government or a lasting peace.

“President Bush should tell us the truth – that the war in Iraq has severely depleted the resources and morale of our Armed Forces – prompting General Colin Powell to say that our military is, quote, ‘about broken.’

“The President should tell us the truth – that because of Iraq, we haven’t finished the job in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda is regrouping, and our hunt for America’s number one enemy – Osama bin Laden – has been compromised.”

“And the situation is no better here at home.  The war hasn’t made us any safer, but it certainly has made us poorer.  We’ve already spent more than $600 billion on a war that President Bush claimed would cost 1/10th that much.  Instead of building barracks in Iraq, we could be helping millions of Americans avoid losing their homes to foreclosure.  Instead of policing the streets of Baghdad, we could be investing in universal health care and a better education system.  Instead of protecting oil fields in Basra, we could be funding renewable energy production to help stem the tide of global warming.

“When all is finally said and done, experts say the war is going to cost as much as $3 trillion or more.  Where does that $3 trillion come from? It’s all borrowed from future generations.  The legacy of our generation could be to leave our children and grandchildren with a safer, cleaner, more prosperous country.  Instead, the war in Iraq will ensure that we leave future generations with trillions of dollars in debt.

“It has never been more important to change course.  Every day, there is new evidence that our economic crisis is growing here at home.  Families are losing their homes.  Major financial institutions are collapsing.  Working men and women are losing their jobs.

“Fixing our troubled economy should be our priority at home.  Abroad, our priority should be preventing terrorism and strengthening our alliances – not continuing an ill-conceived war of choice with no end in sight.  It’s time for a responsible new direction.  We owe it to our courageous troops who are shouldering a heavy burden – and to all Americans who are paying a dear price for the war in Iraq.

“Many of us wish that the War in Iraq had never happened. It is tragic to think what might have been. But it’s not too late to believe in what we, as a nation, can become.  This is Bob Menendez, United States Senator from New Jersey. Thanks very much for listening.”