Revealing Exchange On Iraq: E-mail with House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
Representative Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5th District) United States House of Representatives Washington, DC
Dear Representative Hoyer:
Thank you for your letter of June 19, 2007, in response to my letter requesting that you work to pull our troops out of Iraq. Unfortunately, I am deeply troubled by your response.
You begin your letter by seeming to indicate that the problem with the war is that it is badly managed, noting that the "Bush Administration's handling of the war in Iraq has been disastrous," and providing a litany of facts that purport to support that statement.
You note that, "the Administration ignored the advice of top military commanders and sent too few troops into Iraq, miscalculated on intelligence, failed to properly plan for the occupation, and has grossly underestimated the monetary and human costs of the war."
As the House Majority Leader, it seems that you believe that the primary difference between the Republican and Democratic Parties in regards to the current Iraq war is that Democrats could "manage" this war better than Republicans. This is hardly a positive endorsement of the Democratic Party's position on the war.
A great leader, Prime Minister Winston Churchill warned, "Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy, but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events."
Your position concerning the "managing" of the war does not distinguish you from many of your Republican colleagues. But worse, you continue to support the invasion, stating that "I believe strongly that all civilized nations have a collective obligation to act against an international lawbreaker who threatens peace and stability, and that military action against Hussein's regime was justified due to Iraq's failure to comply with United Nations disarmament and inspections requirements."
You fail to note, however, that the United Nations did not authorize the war, that the United States unilaterally invaded a sovereign nation against the wishes of the majority of UN nation states, and that no weapons of mass destruction were located.
You fail to note that this unilateral invasion cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, rendered millions more Iraqi's destitute, cost billions of dollars from our treasury, and, most egregious of all, cost the lives of thousands of our troops, with more dying daily in the midst of a civil war complicated by an insurgency against U.S. occupation.
You continue to support the war, while claiming, "I would not have voted to authorize military action against Iraq had I known the incompetent manner in which the war and the ensuing reconstruction effort would be conducted." You fail to acknowledge the illegal nature of the war, claiming that some unspecified management improvements are all that are needed to improve the situation engendered by our invasion of Iraq.
This is an unacceptable position on the most important issue of the day. Unless you change your position, I believe that I have no alternative but to actively work against your reelection. I will work within my community to make sure that my neighbors understand your position on the war, and I will attempt to publicize alternatives to a vote for your reelection in 2008.
Sincerely, Jim Cassedy
From Rep. Hoyer- 19 June 2007
Mr. James Cassedy 5400 40th Ave. Hyattsville,MD 20781-1821
Dear Mr. Cassedy:
Thank you for contacting me with your thoughts regarding the war and occupation in Iraq. I appreciate hearing your views on this important matter.
The Bush Administration's handling of the war in Iraq has been disastrous: the Administration ignored the advice of top military commanders and sent too few troops into Iraq, miscalculated on intelligence, failed to properly plan for the occupation, and has grossly underestimated the monetary and human costs of the war. Further, the Administration has consistently strengthened the recruitment efforts of insurgents through policies that allowed the widespread mistreatment of detainees in American custody. Today, Iraq is on the verge of becoming one of the world's worst refugee crises, with more than four million displaced Iraqis and thousands fleeing weekly.
I believe strongly that all civilized nations have a collective obligation to act against an international lawbreaker who threatens peace and stability, and that military action against Hussein's regime was justified due to Iraq's failure to comply with United Nations disarmament and inspections requirements. Nevertheless, I would not have voted to authorize military action against Iraq had I known the incompetent manner in which the war and the ensuing reconstruction effort would be conducted.
The President's current plan to increase troop levels is not a new strategy, but a continuation of his "Stay the Course" approach, without the necessary shift of responsibility towards Iraqi forces. I believe that the escalation in troop levels is too little, too late, due to the Administration's critical failure to put enough troops on the ground at the outset of hostilities to secure and stabilize a nation of 26 million people.
There are no easy answers in the war in Iraq, but there are several positive steps forward that we must take, for the good of our country and for the long-term benefit of the people of Iraq. First, we must shift greater responsibility to the Iraqis for their security, and transition the principal mission of U.S. forces from combat to training and counter-terrorism. Second, we should begin the phased redeployment of our forces within the next six months. Finally, we must implement an aggressive diplomatic strategy, both within the region and beyond, which reflects the continuing obligation of the international community to help stabilize Iraq and which assists the Iraqis in achieving a sustainable political settlement. Put simply, we need a diplomatic surge, not a military one.
In this regard, the on March 23, 2007 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1591, the Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act. I regret that the President vetoed this bill, thereby defying the will of the American people and bipartisan majorities in Congress. This carefully crafted bipartisan legislation fully funded our troops, and provided additional funding for military and veterans' health care over and above the President's request. Additionally, it held the Iraqis accountable for the first time in four years. Furthermore, it provided for a responsible redeployment of American forces from Iraq, which is a provision supported by nearly two-thirds of Americans.
Most recently, the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 2206, the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007. In addition to providing the necessary funds to protect our troops, H.R. 2206 holds both the President and the Iraqi government accountable for the first time since the beginning of the war. H.R. 2206 establishes eighteen political and security benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet, and it makes $1.6 billion in new economic assistance to Iraq conditional on achieving progress toward those goals. Additionally it requires a series of reports from the Administration and outside auditors on progress in Iraq in both July and again in September. This is an important step in our efforts to change the course in Iraq.
As debate regarding the future of the U.S. presence in Iraq proceeds, please know that I am committed to providing our troops with the resources and equipment necessary to effectively protect themselves and perform their duties safely. And like you, I sincerely hope for their speedy and safe return. With Kindest regards, I am
Steny H. Hoyer James Cassedy can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.