Rep. John Lewis Argues for the Iraq Resolution
The U.S. House of Representatives has undertaken four days of five-minute debates regarding House Concurrent Resolution 63 which, if passed, would indicate that members of the House disapprove of the President's decision to send twenty thousand more troops to Iraq. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) spoke during time given to House leadership in this debate. At 8:16 AM today he made the following statement. This is the written text:
"Mr. Speaker, I rise with deep concern that this President has chosen to escalate the war in Iraq, instead of charting a course towards peace. Today I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., when he spoke out against the Vietnam War on April 4, 1967.
"He said, "The world now demands a maturity of this nation that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, just substitute Iraq, and that our actions have been detrimental to the people of that nation.
"War is messy. War is bloody. It tends not just to hide the truth, but to sacrifice the truth.
And the truth is that this was a war of choice, not a war of necessity. It was ill-fated from its inception at the highest levels of government. And persisting in error will not fix a policy, that was fundamentally flawed from the very beginning.
"Thousands of our sons and daughters have been left dead on the battlefield. And tens of thousands are changed forever, wounded physically and spiritually by the brutality of war. Our soldiers are the best men and women in the world, willing to sacrifice all they have at a moment's notice to protect our freedom. They do not deserve to pay with their lives for the errors of this Administration.
"Mr. Speaker, we will never find the answers to the problems we have created in Iraq down the barrel of a gun. The lasting solutions to this crisis will emerge from skillful diplomacy, not military might. The Good Book says, "Come let us reason together."
"We must never, ever be afraid to talk. What harm could come from sitting down with Syria, Iran, and our allies in the Middle East to help bring the warring parties together?
"John F. Kennedy, once said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
"My greatest fear is that the young people growing up in the Middle East will never forget this American invasion. My greatest fear is that they will grow up to hate our children, our grandchildren, and generations yet unborn because of what we're doing today in Iraq.
"Yes, we must maintain a strong national defense. We must defend our borders. We must bring an end to terrorism, but not at the expense of our own democracy. Not at the expense of the very principles this nation was founded upon. I want to close by asking a question of old: Mr. Speaker, what does it profit a great nation to gain the whole world, and lose its soul?
"Gandhi would say, "It is either non-violence or non-existence". And Martin Luther King, Jr. would say, "We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish as fools." It is better to heal than to kill. It is better to reconcile than to divide. It is better to love than to hate. That is why we must vote for this resolution.
"We must not continue to put our young people in harm's way and make them sitting ducks in a civil war. As members of Congress we must continue to stand up, speak up, and speak out. It is our duty; it is our right; it is our moral obligation. We must stop this madness and bring our young men and women home. We must not continue to escalate this war. Vote for this resolution. Thank you, Mr. Speaker."