Lee co-hosts caucus hearing on Iraq

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, co-chaired a Congressional Progressive Caucus hearing on Iraq today featuring testimony from William Polk, a Middle East scholar and the author of “Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency, Terrorism, & Guerilla War from the American Revolution to Iraq,” published just this week. Here’s what Lee said:

lee3.jpg“I’d like to welcome Dr. Polk to this Town Hall on Iraq this morning.

“We truly appreciate your time and effort to join us here today to talk about the issues discussed in your new book, Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency, terrorism, guerrilla war, from the American Revolution to Iraq.

“Your presentation is very timely as the occupation of Iraq approaches its fifth year and this administration continues to deny the reality that the situation on the ground will not improve until the occupation ends and US troops come home.

“But the fact is, all the talk about military progress in Iraq—especially in the wake of the president’s address last week–only serves as a distraction—a smokescreen—from the basic, fundamental fact that there is no military solution to the situation in Iraq.

“Our troops are trapped in a civil war and occupation, a situation where there can be no victory. Our continued presence there is not only breaking our military, it is undermining our national security and efforts to fight international terrorism.

“Despite the Bush administration’s efforts to frame it as a issue of ‘victory’ and ‘defeat,’ the fact remains that the redeployment of US troops form Iraq a precondition to restoring our national security, our efforts to fight international terrorism, and putting us on a path toward a foreign policy that provides real solution for global peace and security.

“Redeployment is a precondition for engaging Iraq’s neighbors and the international community in a regional stability plan. We have a moral obligation to help rebuild Iraq, but neither Iraq’s neighbors nor the international community will truly engage in a regional stability plan as long as they believe that the US intends to maintain an indefinite occupation.

“Redeployment is a precondition for any successful effort to combat global terrorism. The U.S. occupation of Iraq has become a rallying point for the insurgents in Iraq and greatly aids in their recruiting and fundraising.

“That’s why I believe that your testimony today comes at a critical juncture in the debate before us in Congress on how to end our occupation of Iraq and bring peace and stability to Iraq.

“It’s in understanding the nature of such insurgencies as the one our brave men and women are facing daily that will allow Congress to see that the only solution to the situation in Iraq is what my colleagues Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey and Congresswoman Maxine Waters call fully funded redeployment.

“Specifically, we believe that Congress should only provide the money necessary to fully fund the safe, timely and responsible redeployment of troops and contractors from Iraq.

“I look forward to hearing from you your well considered opinion on the nature of the insurgency in Iraq, how our presence there fuels the very insurgency our courageous troops are seeking to defeat, and how the perception that we are going remain in Iraq indefinitely provides a powerful recruiting tool and fundraising opportunity.

“Thank you again for being with us here today.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.