Iraq War Contrary to Conservatism

Editor’s note: The following speech was delivered in the House of Representatives on June 16, 2006.

Mr. Speaker, I requested this Special Order to read a statement that I earlier placed in the Record during the debate on the Iraq war resolution.

I did not request time during the debate because it was obvious that the chairmen controlling the time, all good friends of mine, wanted only speakers who support the war, and I did not want to place them in an uncomfortable position.

I did not request time from the Democrats because many of my colleagues in the minority were using this debate in a bitterly partisan way. Surely, war should be the last thing that should become partisan.

Yet 80 percent of the House Republicans, including me, voted against the bombings in Bosnia and Kosovo when President Clinton was in the White House. I believe 80 percent of Republicans would have opposed the war in Iraq if it had been started by President Clinton or Gore, and probably almost all the Democrats would have then been supporting it, as they did the bombings in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Much of the resolution that was just passed by this House contains language that everyone supports, especially the praise for our troops. Our troops do a great job everywhere they are sent. And it is certainly no criticism of them to criticize this war.

In August of 2002, two months before Congress voted for the war in Iraq, Dick Armey, then our Republican majority leader, in a speech in Iowa said, “I don’t believe America will justifiably make an unprovoked attack on another nation. It would not be consistent with what we have been as a nation.”

Jack Kemp wrote before the war, “What is the evidence that should cause us to fear Iraq more than Pakistan or Iran? Do we reserve the right to launch a preemptive war exclusively for ourselves, or might other nations such as India, Pakistan, or China be justified in taking similar action on the basis of fears of other nations?”

Mr. Kemp said, based on the evidence he had seen, there was not “a compelling case for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.”

William F. Buckley wrote that if he had known in 2002 what he knew then in 2004, he would have been against the war. Last year, he wrote another column against the war, saying, “A point is reached when tenacity conveys not steadfastness of purpose, but misapplication of pride.”

The very popular conservative columnist Charley Reese wrote that this war was “against a country that was not attacking us, did not have the means to attack us, and had never expressed any intention of attacking us. … [A]nd for whatever real reason we attacked Iraq, it was not to save America from any danger, imminent or otherwise.”

Many years ago, Sen. Robert Taft expressed a traditional conservative position: “No foreign policy can be justified except a policy devoted to the protection of the American people, with war only as the last resort and only to preserve that liberty.”

Millions of conservatives across this nation believe this war was unconstitutional, unaffordable, and worst of all, unnecessary. It was waged against an evil man, but one who had a total military budget only two-tenths of 1 percent of ours.

We are not going to be able to pay all our military pensions, civil service pensions, Social Security, Medicare, and all the other things we have promised if we are going to turn the Department of Defense into the Department of Foreign Aid and attempt to be the policeman of the world.

This is contrary to every traditional conservative position on defense and on huge deficit spending. The conservative columnist Georgie Ann Geyer wrote, “Critics of the war against Iraq have said since the beginning of the conflict that Americans, still strangely complacent about overseas wars being waged by a minority in their name, will inevitably come to a point where they will see they have to have a government that provides services at home, or one that seeks empire across the globe.”