President's Radio Address
March 18, 2007 12:47pm CST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. In times of war, Congress has no greater obligation than funding our war fighters. And next week, the House will begin debate on an emergency war spending bill. The purpose of this legislation should be to give our troops on the front lines the resources, funds, and equipment they need to fight our enemies. Unfortunately, some in Congress are using this bill as an opportunity to micromanage our military commanders, force a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, and spend billions on domestic projects that have nothing to do with the war on terror. Our troops urgently need Congress to approve emergency war funds. Over the past several weeks, our Nation has begun pursuing a new strategy in Iraq. Under the leadership of General David Petraeus, our troops have launched a difficult and dangerous mission to help Iraqis secure their capital. This plan is still in its early stages, yet we're already seeing signs of progress. Iraqi and American troops have rounded up more than 700 people affiliated with Shia extremists. They've also launched aggressive operations against Sunni extremists. And they've uncovered large caches of weapons that could have been used to kill our troops. These are hopeful signs. As these operations unfold, they will help the Iraqi government stabilize the country, rebuild the economy, and advance the work of political reconciliation. Yet the bill Congress is considering would undermine General Petraeus and the troops under his command just as these critical security operations are getting under way. First, the bill would impose arbitrary and restrictive conditions on the use of war funds and require the withdrawal of forces by the end of this year if these conditions are not met. These restrictions would handcuff our generals in the field by denying them the flexibility they need to adjust their operations to the changing situation on the ground. And these restrictions would substitute the mandates of Congress for the considered judgment of our military commanders. Even if every condition required by this bill was met, all American forces -- except for very limited purposes -- would still be required to withdraw next year, regardless of the situation in Iraq. The consequences of imposing such an artificial timetable would be disastrous. Here is what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently told Congress: Setting a fixed date to withdraw would "essentially tell[the enemy] how long they would have to wait until we're gone." If American forces were to step back from Baghdad before it is more secure, the scale and scope of attacks would increase and intensify. A contagion of violence could spill out across the entire country, and in time, this violence would engulf the region. The enemy would emerge from the chaos emboldened with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. Such an outcome would be a nightmare for our country. Second, the bill would cut funding for the Iraqi security forces if Iraqi leaders did not meet rigid conditions set by Congress. This makes no sense. Members of Congress have often said that the Iraqis must step forward and take more responsibility for their own security -- and I agree. Yet Members of Congress can't have it both ways: They can't say that the Iraqis must do more and then take away the funds that will help them do so. Iraq is a young democracy that is fighting for its survival in a region that is vital to American security. o cut off support for their security forces at this critical moment would put our own security at risk. Third, the bill would add billions of dollars in domestic spending that is completely unrelated to the war. For example, the House bill would provide $74 million for peanut storage, $48 million for the Farm Service Agency, and $35 million for NASA. These programs do not belong in an emergency war spending bill. Congress must not allow debate on domestic spending to delay funds for our troops on the front lines. And Members should not use funding our troops as leverage to pass special interest spending for their districts. We are a Nation at war, and the heaviest responsibilities fall to our troops in the field. Yet we in Washington have responsibilities, as well. General Petraeus was confirmed by the Senate without a single vote in opposition, and he and his troops need these resources to succeed in their mission. Many in Congress say they support the troops, and I believe them. Now they have a chance to show that support in deed, as well as in word. Congress needs to approve emergency funding for our troops, without strings and without delay. If they send me a bill that does otherwise, I will veto it. Thank you for listening. This is what the President spoke on the radio on March 17, 2007. What do you think about it? What is your thoughts on this speech?
• United States
18 Mar 07
I think that he is exactly right. Congress needs to back off and let our soldiers do the job they was sent to do without any time restrictions or any other restrictions. They also need to remove everything that does not pertain to the war from that bill. With the restrictions and the extra spending the House is showing that they really don't support the war, or the troops, and are demonstrating their desire for us to fail in Iraq. That is what they really want anyway, so then they can claim that they were right. They are doing nothing more than playing politics with American lives and American Security here at home. I think his speech says it all very well. Now all we have to do is wait and see what the Democrats do. This will tell us what they are really all about, and how seriously they take our security. The ball is in their court now.
• United States
18 Mar 07
And how is this war our problem? Don't you remember, it was officially declared OVER about two years ago, but here we are still messing around in Iraq. There is NO EXCUSE for it! Congress needs to deny the funds and pull the troups OUT! There is nothing we can do to stop the two factions of warring Islam in Iraq. It's the same as Korea and Vietman - civil wars we cannot change. All Bush did was remove Saddam, who was trying to deal with it in his way, and now it's Bush's problem. He needs to be cut off now before it escalates and he gets in trouble even worse than he already has!
• United States
18 Mar 07
Was it our responsibility to depose another country's government? Was it our right? NO! There is no defense for that. Saddam was handling a civil war, the conflict between Shuni's and Shi'ites that will never be solved. All Bush did was take Saddam out of the equation and now Bush has to handle it. The Iraqis have had over TWO years to set up their own government. As it turns out, they can't handle this problem, either. How long is the US going to lose precious lives over this problem that was not ours in the first place?