Senator Michael B. Enzi
March 15, 2007
Mr. President: As I begin my comments on the resolutions we have under consideration, I want to first make very clear my strong support for the members of our armed forces and the vital work they are doing around the world every day. I have the greatest admiration for them all for their heartfelt commitment to preserving our freedoms and maintaining our national security. They are all true heroes and they are the ones who are doing the heavy lifting and making great sacrifices in our name so that we might continue to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Over the years, I have been to
I was thinking about them, and all the members of our military who are presently serving around the world as I began to prepare my remarks. I thought back to the days, years ago, when I was first elected to serve as the Mayor of
Then, when I came here to the Senate, the Constitution took on an even greater, deeper meaning for me. I now saw it as my job description. That is why I make sure to always keep it handy so it can continue to serve as a reminder of the detailed portrait it contains of our federal government and how it was designed to work by our Founding Fathers. Today, it provides us with a good starting point for our debate and it provides some of the answers to the issues before us.
The relevant parts of the Constitution are quite clear. Congress must be consulted before any large scale military operation is begun. But once that has been done, the Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces, the President, is to direct the effort that we approved.
The Founding Fathers had a good reason for establishing the President as the Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces and the one who is responsible for making the decisions affecting the actions of our nation’s military.
That doesn’t mean that Congress has no role to play in these decisions. We all have an important role to play when it comes to matters like these. Again, in their great wisdom, the drafters of our Constitution knew that Congress could – and should – influence policy – but they knew it would be impossible for us to have all the information available to the President to debate and assess before making a decision on the viability of every military operation. The process of determining military strategy would be a nightmare if we were to be expected to debate all the intricacies of every policy and, by so doing, reveal some of the information obtained by our intelligence agencies on the House and Senate floor before reaching a decision. Our procedure on the Floor is a good process for debating and considering legislation, but it’s a process that doesn’t lend itself well to producing a quick and informed military decision at a time of crisis.
Those thoughts were on my mind when the President put forward a new strategy for us to pursue in
Listening to the debate, I have heard many of my colleagues sum up the President’s new strategy as just increasing the number of American troops in
In the months to come, it is clear that there are several things the new policy must do if it is to be successful. First and foremost, the new campaign must provide the security the people of
Looking long term, I think we would all agree that the future of
Our mission in
Ultimately, what the future of
Looking back, the record is clear. Like many members of the United States Senate, I supported the original decision in 2002 to take action against Saddam Hussein in
Today, I remain concerned about the safety of the people on the ground: Americans, coalition allies, and the Iraqi people. And there is good reason for my concern. With today’s rapid communication made possible by the Internet, cell phones, and other technologies, what we say here can almost instantaneously find its way around the world and straight to the camps of both friends and foes – and they are both watching. In fact, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the whole world is watching to see what we will decide to do.
Which leads me to ask, what do we hope to accomplish through this debate? We have already approved the nomination of General Petraeus by a unanimous vote. Now we are considering a resolution condemning a plan he hasn’t had a chance to put into action yet. What sort of message will we send our troops with our vote on that?
As members of the United States Senate, we have the opportunity to voice our opinions to the President and our constituents. But the fact that we are even going through this debate at this point in time may give those who wish to do us harm hope and embolden them – and once emboldened they will pose an even greater threat to our troops.
As we continue with our consideration of these resolutions, I want to be clear that I do not want to cut funding for the troops. Their safety and their very lives depend on that funding. When you are in a war, you don’t do that to the troops.
Looking ahead, in the months to come, Congress must continue to closely monitor the actions of the new Iraqi government, our military leaders, and our civilian leaders. We should continue to express our opinions, and take whatever actions are necessary to ensure our troops are provided the best support possible so that they can come home soon. We should not, however, further endanger the lives of Americans and Iraqis simply to make a statement and take a stand against the President.