Politicians are often stereotyped as long-winded speakers, and people who don’t speak to the common man…and sometimes, the image is true.
During last night’s congressional slumber party, aka the all-night debate over possibly withdrawing from iraq, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch got up to speak. For all the members of the media who missed the speech, his office sent out a transcript this morning. The title? ABSQUATULATION IN IRAQ IS NOT A POLICY
Now as you may know, I like to use a nice big word as much as anyone, and I do consider myself well-read – but I have never in my life heard the word absquatulation before.
So I looked it up.
It is indeed in the dictionary, and the etymology (or where the word comes from) is said to be from the 1820’s and is “an americanism simulating a latin formulation” – in other words…it’s a made-up word that somehow made it into the dictionary.
But hatch didn’t stop there. Later in the speech, he said “These are parlous times” – implying that things are dangerous. Parlous is a Middle English variant of perilous – an actual word, not just an odd western pronounciation.
Thank you Senator Hatch for your vocabulary lesson, and for continuing to be a man of the people.
Complete Text of the Speech
HATCH: ABSQUATULATION IN
Mr. President, today we face a growing movement for the political abandonment of the will to success in the biggest conflict we face to date in the 21st century.
There are handfuls of people in pink wandering the hallways and the party in the majority claims a growing groundswell to abandon the fight in the midst of the battle.
These are parlous times, and the political class of this country is divided among those who desperately want to raise the white flag, those who are fleeing to the tall grasses, and a beleaguered Administration beleaguered in part - and let us be honest at a time when generosity would be misplaced – by many of its own spectacular mistakes.
I hear from constituents who are worried, very worried, about the war in
But I think I am being honest to suggest that the vast majority of my constituents are as worried by the prospects of U.S. unilateral withdrawal as they are by the challenges we face in the middle of a battle whose end many of my colleagues no longer have the patience to imagine, pursue or achieve.
Such abandonment is not an option for our forces in
I gave a speech on this floor several months ago where I said that I was not going to concede to the Democrats’ strategy of unilateral withdrawal. I pointed out the irony that the Democrat’s legitimate criticism of this Administration’s policy – that the Bush Administration went into Iraq unprepared for the consequences, and without imagining the requirements of the day after we toppled Saddam – was in fact being repeated by the Democrats who now advocate a withdrawal without preparing for the consequences, and with no consideration for what will happen in Iraq, the region and the world the day after we decamp.
I find this bitterly ironic, Mr. President.
And while I agree with many of the criticisms of this Administration’s early failures in the Iraq war, I will not stand quietly against the irony – indeed, the hypocrisy – of suggestions that it is ok to abandon a war without considering the consequences, but damnable to begin one in the same manner.
In the months since I spoke on this floor, where I gave my qualified support for the surge, I have listened carefully to the debate on and off the floor. I have talked to my colleagues, to Administration officials, to constituents and friends, here and abroad. I have read the intelligence, on the prospects for
Nowhere have I found a silver lining to these clouds of conflict. But nowhere have I heard anyone say that the clouds are less dark on the horizon.
The three major problems I am most concerned about – the Al-Qaida problem, the
If the Majority wants to decamp, they need to propose a policy context that makes the
The Al-Qaida Problem
Mr. President, in May I went to Ramadi. I was briefed on our base by General Gaskin, and then we suited up to go for a walk in the town center. That’s correct – we had to suit up in armor for a walk downtown.
This was no Sunday stroll for ice cream. But two facts were obvious: One, six months before we strolled through those downtown streets, Ramadi was Al-Qaida’s capitol in Anbar province and
However you want to criticize the Administration for its past errors, we now have a workable counter-insurgency plan in operation. It is working in Anbar and Al-Qaida is on the defensive. Are they moving out to other places? We are. Are we following them, using the counter-insurgency tactics we have finally mastered? We are. Are we going to abandon the field we have learned to dominate? You tell me, Mr. President. And we will abandon that field in this very room?
Here’s what I learned about our successful counter-insurgency campaign from General Gaskin: AQI declared Ramadi the capital city of the Islamic State of Iraq.
There were no police in Ramadi last year, Al-Qaida in
They represent us as occupiers, infidels. They advance their goals with brutal methods. All of their financing comes from criminal enterprises. AQI is very cellular, decentralized but resilient and regenerative. They are self-sufficient, funding themselves through criminal activities (murder, intimidation, black market).
We have finally learned to deal with the Sunni tribes. It took us too long to understand the tribes, but AQI didn’t understand the tribal culture, either. AQI’s intimidation activities and murder of families (including young boys) enraged the local tribes. The tribes response was their realization that the expanded Coalition presence was a chance to get AQI out of their lives and they came to a mutual understanding with coalition forces.
But the local population has helped find two-thirds of the IEDs in the area. We have promoted the development of neighborhood watch system. Once you clear, you must leave a security presence – with coalition support. Local won’t give you intel if you don’t leave a permanent presence that provides security. In the words of General Gaskin, we are asking the Iraqis to gain capacity while they’re at war. This is very unusual, and it is very difficult.
In counterinsurgency the most important thing is how well you protect the population, what the level of violence is.
We are making progress in Anbar. Are we going to abandon this progress? As General Gaskin put it: “It’s like someone tells you the ship that you’re on is on fire. You jump off, but halfway down you discover that it wasn’t on fire after all. You still have to deal with your decision to jump: either swim or drown.”
As I’ve said, Mr. President, I’m not in favor of jumping ship, but for those who are: what are we going to do? Swim or drown? Last month, two analysts for the Radio Free Iraq service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty released a compelling report entitled Iraqi Insurgency Media: The War of Images and Ideas.
In addition to cataloguing the impressive degree to which the Iraqi Sunni insurgency is using the Internet to purvey a constant stream of images, propaganda, songs and other images that glorify the fight against the Coalition, this report makes clear that this barrage of insurgent media is feeding the global extremist network.
The insurgents, including Al-Qaida, are very media savvy, and they are avid consumers of western and American media. They watch our floor debates. It is a common theme for them today to declare that we will withdraw. In our withdrawal they will see victory.
If we abandon the counter-insurgency gains we’ve made, Al-Qaida will not only declare global victory and vindication, they will attempt to reclaim territory in
Nowhere have I seen policy prescriptions to address this problem. We can’t fight Al-Qaida from across the border.
We can’t fight Al-Qaida and ignore
Nowhere have I read of a compelling policy prescription to answer the question of how we will deal with
What is our policy toward
Mr. President, I always hope for a diplomatic solution. I also hope to balance the budget and cure AIDs. This won’t happen based on hope alone, however. Those who think we can split from
Just several days ago the
The Moral and Practical Costs of Abandoning the Moderates
There are, in fact, many moderates. Many Iraqis intermarried between faiths; many Iraqis are urban professionals; many Iraqi women are educated – all of these are attributes of the moderate masses who are today intimidated by the insurgents, gangsters and terrorists, and who are failed by the Iraqi politicians.
Who will we blame for the slaughter of moderates, and who will we turn to the next time we seek allies in the
The consequences on our ability to conduct foreign policy, to win the war on terror, to advance our values of democracy and peace, will be immense.
After the capitulation driven by congressional Democrats that led to our abandonment of
I am 73 years old, Mr. President, and I fear that, should we concede to the call for withdrawal without a sound policy, the harm caused to this nation will last longer than I have years to live.
This is a very important point. Many people today believe that, whatever the outcome this month, we have set a deadline for September.
I say: Any progress achieved by September will be incremental at best. Counter-insurgencies can be won, but they will not be won on a congressional election cycle.