Economic globalization has changed the rules of commerce. The world is well on its way toward a single marketplace, and Texas is uniquely positioned to be at the center of it. We are the gateway to Latin America. With 27 ports along our Gulf Coast, we are a potential powerhouse in the Caribbean, including Cuba, whose isolated economy will inevitably open up in the coming years. This is an opportunity to improve lives all over the world if we understand the new rules. Let's export our values, not our jobs.
I have been on the ground in Iraq and, like most people in my district, support a plan to end our military involvement there and save lives. The top priority of such a plan must be to do this in a smart way that doesn't force us to send troops back in a few years because we didn't do it right this time. HR2206 is not that plan.
I would have voted 'No!' today because this bill doesn't meet my standard for dramatically reducing our military involvement in Iraq and saving lives -- this year.
Here are the facts. The war is a disaster. We don't have enough manpower to pacify the country and, barring a military draft, never will. This cold mathematics means that no matter what our disposition of troops, we can't impose order or safeguard our forces, and our troops will be continually killed and injured. So that's the basic truth: regardless of what you think about Iraq and whether it's worth fighting for or not, there's no hope for strategic gain. Without more troops, we don't have the means to impose any policy at all, good or bad.
The nature of the fighting in Iraq has also shifted -- from rejectionist/Al Qaeda/Ba'athist/Sunnis vs. Americans to a politically motivated sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites, with Americans caught in the middle. The insurgency is still there, but it's been overshadowed by sectarian violence and civil war. We can flood a city with troops and pacify it, but it thins out our presence elsewhere and allows violence to flare up in the vacant areas. We don't have the manpower to put a lid on it.
I propose a roughly 80 percent withdrawal from central and southern Iraq, leaving 10 percent of our troops in the peaceful Kurdish north, and repositioning the other 10 percent outside of Iraq into Kuwait. There are about 160,000 troops all told, so this would translate to bringing home all but about 30,000. These troops would stay behind as a deterrent to potential invasion or meddling by Iraq's neighbors - particularly Iran and Syria - which would help contain the war to just Iraq, rather than having it metastasize to a regional Middle Eastern war. (If Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Iran were overtly engaged in warfare, nearly half of the world's oil reserves would suddenly be in play with a corresponding plunge in the global economy.)
This far smaller troop presence in the region would act as a rapid reaction force available to sweep into any place in Iraq to stop Rwanda-style genocidal impulses, while keeping our fighting men and women out of harm's way. Separately, I'd propose a contingent of roughly 2,000 Special Forces soldiers to operate within Iraq, with the main purpose of hunting Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
The election last November was a clear signal to bring the Bush Administration's military adventure in Iraq to a close. That's my commitment.