Senator clarifies days later that Iraq war is "a dereliction..and immoral"
December 8, 2006
In an emotional speech on the Senate floor Thursday night, Sen Gordon Smith, a moderate Republican from Oregon who has been a supporter of the war in Iraq, said the U.S. military's "tactics have failed" and he "cannot support that anymore." Smith said he is at, "the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up the same bombs, day after day.
"That is absurd," he said. "It may even be criminal."Smith said he has tried to quietly support President Bush during the course of the war -- and doesn't believe the president intentionally lied to get the U.S. into the war -- but now recognizes, "we have paid a price in blood and treasure that is beyond calculation" for a war waged due to bad intelligence.Moved this week by the findings of the Iraq Study Group, Smith said he needed to "speak from my heart. "I, for one, am tired of paying the price of 10 or more of our troops dying a day. So let's cut and run or cut and walk, but let us fight the way on terror more intelligently that we have because we have fought this war in a very lamentable way," he said. Days later on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" Senator Smith had this to say:
STEPHANOPOULOS: … a stunning change of heart in the Senate.Senators Gordon Smith and Joe Biden join us live. Senator, why the change of heart on Iraq? What did it for you?
SMITH: Waking up the other morning and turning on the news andhearing that yet another 10 of our soldiers died the same way thatseveral thousand have…
SMITH: Wednesday — through roadside bombs. And I went fromsteamed to boiled. And I felt I had to speak out, because if we'regoing to be there, let's win; if we're not, let's at least fight the war on terror in a way that makes sense.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You said in that speech the current policy maybe criminal.
SMITH: I said it — you can use any adjective you want, George,but I have long believed, in a military context, when you do the samething over and over again without a clear strategy for victory at theexpense of your young people in arms, that is dereliction, that isdeeply immoral.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet, you also say the Baker commission report isa recipe for retreat. So what are you for?
SMITH: I am for fighting the war on terror against jihadists.When you get to being policeman in a sectarian civil war, that is notwhat the American people enlisted for. That's not what I voted for. I voted for toppling a chief terrorist and tyrant, ridding him ofweapons of mass destruction but not for being target practice in themiddle of a sectarian strife that we see, where hundreds of bodies aday are pulled out of the Tigris River, Sunnis and Shias who are butchering each other, really, over the question of who has therightful successor to Mohammed.