Rohrabacher floor statement on American Foreign Policy
Washington, Apr 30, 2003 - The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 7, 2003, the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher) is recognized for 60 minutes.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I would like to identify myself with the gentleman's remarks and I am very happy I was able to yield those 5 minutes because I could not agree more with the gentleman.
Tonight I would like to discuss a matter very similar to what we were just hearing. I would like to talk about American foreign policy.
First and foremost, when we talk about America and talk about some of our basic policies, let us note that America is not like every other country. America is a unique country in the world, and I have always believed that God has a special place for the United States of America. Why is this? Because America, unlike other countries, represents every ethnic group, every religion, every race and every kind of human being that you can imagine. We represent the world here. We have people from all over the world who have come here to live in freedom and enjoy opportunity, to better the lives of their family, and they have come here from every place in the world to try to live in harmony with one another, but also to enjoy our freedom and opportunity. We have this place here between two oceans, this incredible land that was given to us that has vast natural resources.
Our Founding Fathers understood this. They thought that there was divine province in the establishment of America and that gives us a very special responsibility to the world. And also a responsibility to those Founding Fathers was not to waste this gift that they have given us.
Our Founding Fathers were extraordinary people. And they had a profound understanding of human nature and of special organization. The Declaration of Independence, to this day, is the most revolutionary of all national charters. It talks about God-given rights, about the consent of the governed, as these two things being the basis of freedom, of liberty. Later, our Constitution would detail a system of checks and balances and of limited and layered government that would protect the freedom of the people while ensuring our society stability and our society the type of government it would need to progress.
We were, back as long as our history started, back in 1776, through our history and on and all the way till today, the hope of the world. We were the hope to those people of the world who longed for liberty and justice, the people who hoped in the world that there was a better way, and we were there to show them a better way, and they could identify with us because we were the world. We are the people who represent every race and every religion. And we do not define ourselves by just a geographic area but instead by beliefs in liberty and justice for all. Beliefs that are at the heart of our system, instead of a religion or a race or even a locale.
This is not to say that the United States of America has been a perfect country. And I disagree with many of my conservative friends who try to idealize the past of our country and try to say that we were a bunch of puritan moralists or something like that and very religious. I am a religious person myself, but it is very easy to see that many Americans were very rambunctious people over the years ago. There were hell raisers. There were frontiersmen, and there were saloons and brothels in our history and gangsters. That does not mean those things should overshadow the fact that there were also churches and educators and philanthropists and people that helped each other and cared about each other.
Let us not say it was perfect here. Let us also remember that the taint of slavery was around from the very beginning, and how we treated our black population and the minority populations in the past should be an area of concern for us. We should not ignore it. We should try to make sure that we commit ourselves for making up for that in building a better America for everybody in the future. But there was racism in the past and there is some racism that exists even today that we should be working on because we want America to live up to its promise.
We have seen in the past scandals and manipulation of government that match some of the very best in various parts of the world. But the fact is we also know that at the basis of America is a system of government that gives us the opportunity to correct the mistakes and to make things better and a system of ideals that call out for all Americans to respect each other and to work together to build a better country and to build a better world.
Constant vigilance on the part of our citizens and the part of every American is required to make sure that our country continues to be free and that we continue to solve problems as they emerge, and that is something that sometimes is a little hard to do. I mean, when you talk about constant vigilance, sometimes it becomes nothing
more than a slogan or some sort of a phase that may or may not have any meaning. But what we have to do, I mean by constant vigilance is we have to make sure our people focus on these ideals of our country and focus on our government enough to make sure we are doing what is right.
And it is so easy for our citizens in a free country just to focus their own lives because they are free to do so, and they are free to try to improve the lives of their children. Thus, they are out with their children at ball games and they are helping their communities and, thus, sometimes these good and decent people who make up America just rely on our government, and especially on our government and the people who work for our government to do what is right, to do what is right domestically, but also to do what is right in those areas that our people really cannot focus on and know all the details on American foreign policy.
I would say that America has, at times, let the American people down, but the American people have not let us down. American people have remained the most charitable people in the world, bar none, and I know that. I am, by the way, just not talking about our government and the government's services. I do not consider that a reflection of benevolence. I consider that to be a bureaucratic solution. And quite often some government programs are just established so we do not have to think about a problem, and it is a way of soothing many people. The liberals soothe their consciences by setting up a program that may not work but at least they can say they are trying to work on a program rather than trying to do something in and of themselves. But our people are willing to commit themselves. And they have committed themselves and provide more charity and more help to each other and more help to people in need around the world than any other people.
Of course, liberals do not like to admit this because they claim we do not give enough; and, of course, most of the time they are just basing it on the level of foreign aid or the level of donations we make to the United Nations. But that is not the way to judge the benevolence of the people. No, that is not the way to judge at all.
How much are we giving as individuals to help people in need? Many of our groups, many ethnic groups, as I say, from various countries that return to their homeland where they came from or from where their ancestors came from and give all sorts of assistance, thousands and thousands of dollars and any help, not only just in times of crisis but in other times. This is part of the benevolence of our country that these people return to their homeland and give vast sums of money to help the people who were left behind.
Also, we have given in emergency situations. There are people that can always come to the United States and we are always there to help. But also in a crisis, but also what we have not been given credit for is our people are willing to go out and put their lives on the line to preserve the peace of the world. That we never get credit for. In fact, even in the United Nations, when we sent peacekeepers out, our peacekeepers and the amount of money that they cost, we pick up their paycheck and we are not even accredited for that in the United Nations as a contribution to the United Nations.
And then my liberal colleagues who criticize us for not giving what we should to the U.N. If you count in all the money for the peacekeeping operations and all what we have done to keep peace in the world, we probably give more money than the rest of them combined. But we need to make sure that when the United States takes a stand in the world, that we are doing it in a way that is consistent with the ideals of our Founding Fathers.
I am here tonight to discuss a morally-based American foreign policy. It is more than simply giving money in foreign aid or even benevolently giving money voluntarily as citizens to help people in other countries, and even more than participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations. It is what we stand for and what our government pushes for overseas and what we fight for at times.
In the last 100 years, we have saved the democratic world. We have saved western civilization in World War I in World War II. In the Cold War it was the American people that stepped forward to save civilization at a time of great peril. The threats that led to World War II and the threat during that Second World War and during the Cold War, of course, were much easier to understand than many of the challenges that we face today.
Today many of those challenges are less definable and they are less understandable. So today our role is much more complicated. But we must be willing to act just as our Americans moved in the last generation and the generations before were willing to act. In order to be a force in this world for the ideals that were laid forth back in 1776 by our country's founders and to make this world a more peaceful place and a place, because if this world is not peaceful, America will pay a price. Because technology has shrunk this planet so that each of us are affected when a terrorist or a dictator has his way in different parts of this planet.
So we must be willing to pay the price, and that price is involvement and that price is engagement and that price is, yes, there is an economic price in having the technology and the weapons and the military that is capable of defending the United States and having the foreign policy establishment educated and committed to the ideals of the United States engaged in pushing the world in the right direction.
September 11, I believe, was a result of bad policy. What we faced, the disaster there, and it was not a disaster that was a natural disaster. It was a man-made disaster. And it was something that could have been averted had we had different policies. Yet, we had policies that led to 9-11. And in 9-11 we lost more people, there were more casualties in New York on September 11 than there were casualties by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
And the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the main target there, of course, were our soldiers and sailors, members of our military. So this heinous attack on 9-11 was much more brutal and much more aimed at our society and much more of an egregious assault on us than was the attack on Pearl Harbor.
I would submit that, as I say, 9-11 need not have happened. It started with our policy in Afghanistan. And just a short brief on that. People understand I have had a long history in Afghanistan, from the time I worked in the Reagan White House. I was in the Reagan White House for 7 years. During that time, as part of Ronald Reagan's strategy to defeat the Soviet Empire and bring it down and prevent it from being a threat to the United States and the free people of the world, we supported people in Afghanistan and elsewhere who were fighting Soviet expansionism.
We helped the Afghans fight against the Soviet Army that occupied their country. We provided them with weapons and equipment, and they fought bravely and courageously. It was their blood and their courage that helped end the Cold War because they drove the Soviets out of their country and broke the will of the communist bosses in Moscow. That is one of the major battles that helped us bring down the Berlin Wall and end the Cold War so that we were able then to enjoy a decade of relative peace and prosperity.
Yet the Afghans were left alone to fight each other in the rubble, with no assistance or help from the United States. We abandoned our Afghan friends after the Soviets left. We abandoned them because we made an agreement. I have not seen the agreement, but I am sure it was made. All the evidence is there. We made an agreement with the Pakistanis and the Saudis that they would be the ones to oversee Afghanistan. That in and of itself was not the right thing to do. It is the people of Afghanistan that we owed a debt to. It is the people of Afghanistan who fought bravely against the Soviets. Any agreement that was made about what would be happening in Afghanistan should have been focused on the consent of the governed, meaning the people of Afghanistan, and not a political power play among Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.
So what ended up happening was that we simply left. We went and enjoyed our freedom and our prosperity at the expense of these people. What happened? Well, what emerged in Afghanistan was truly evil. It was a regime based on an extreme faction of Islam, based on the Wahhabi part of Islam, which is a very small faction of the Islamic religious faith. It was superimposed on them by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Having been in Afghanistan during the war against the Soviets, and I was there working with the Afghans, fighting with the Afghans against Soviet troops back in 1988, I can tell you that those people are devout in their faith, but they are not fanatics like those that we picture when we think of the fanaticism of the Taliban. They were devout Muslims. They really hold God in their heart. They call God Allah, but it is the same that we say when we say God. They were not people who were insisting that everyone else pray the same way they did.
But the Taliban, as I say, is a derivative of the Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia who were superimposed on Afghanistan; and they had no help from us. The people of Afghanistan had no help from us, and the Taliban took over Afghanistan and turned it into a horror story for the people of Afghanistan and a horrible threat for the people of the Western world. But the Taliban, did, as I say, did not just emerge in power. It was there because the United States policy permitted it to be or even acquiesced to it or even supported the creation of the Taliban in agreement with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
I worked for years, after the fall of the Soviet Union, and after the Soviets left Afghanistan, to try to offer Afghanistan some help. I went to every country around Afghanistan to get support for a return to Afghanistan of the old king, Zahir Shah, who had been overthrown by the Soviet puppets back in 1973. Zahir Shah had been king of that country for 40 years, and they had peace and they had prosperity. He was a very moderate force in that society. His wife actually took the burqa off and threw it into the street one day. So he was trying to bring more democratic government. He was trying to bring more liberalization of their society.
But the communists manipulated the forces in that society, overthrew Zahir Shah with those forces, and then murdered the people who overthrew Zahir Shah and came to power themselves. And that is when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.
Zahir Shah is a fine man. The people of Afghanistan loved him. We could have brought him back. Had we supported him, had the United States supported bringing him back, he would have ushered in democracy into that country. That is what he was pledged to do. Yet our government wrote him off.
And when I personally went to the countries around Afghanistan to try to get support for him rather than the Taliban, I was followed by a representative of the State Department at each of my meetings. At each of the meetings that I had with different political leaders in these countries, a representative of our embassy, meaning the United States State Department, was there saying Dana Rohrabacher is speaking for himself. He is not speaking for the United States of America. In other words, do not listen to Dana Rohrabacher.
For anybody who wants to know who is to blame for 9-11, you can thank those State Department elitists who decided that the Taliban was better than King Zahir Shah and undercut every effort to bring a moderate government to Afghanistan. They are the ones, whether they were in Pakistan or whether they were in Turkmenistan or whether they were in various countries of the world where meetings were taking place, who undercut those efforts of the Taliban's enemies, or let us say those people who would just offer an alternative to the Taliban. Every time the State Department interceded.
At one point, once the Taliban were in power, they became very vulnerable, because they had overstepped their bounds and their military had been defeated in the north and a swift reaction on the part of the anti-Taliban forces could have made the difference, could have eliminated them from power. President Clinton sent Bill Richardson, then our United Nations ambassador, and Under Secretary of State Inderforth to northern Afghanistan and convinced the anti-Taliban forces not to go into action but to seek a cease-fire, and to seek a cease-fire with an embargo of weapons, which would mean that they could talk out their differences.
Well, of course, with an emissary from the President and people at that high level to go up to talk to these so-called warlords in the northern part of Afghanistan, naturally they acquiesced. And, of course, immediately the resupply of weapons began to the Taliban and the cease-fire was immediately violated as soon as the Taliban were replenished with their weapons supply by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. We could have eliminated the Taliban then, or we could have prevented the Taliban from coming to power had we supported an alternative, like Zahir Shah.
I was always so frustrated about this, because I knew that the United States Government had a policy of supporting or at least acquiescing to this monstrous regime. For years, I was asking for our Secretary of State Albright to provide the papers to me as a senior member of the Committee on International Relations to see about America's support for the Taliban. And, no, I could not get hold of them. I will have to say that some people on the other side of the aisle were very condescending towards me when I suggested we needed to see that because there might be support for the Taliban.
Well, what happened recently? About 2 months ago the foreign minister of Pakistan came to visit in California and got up and publicly acknowledged that it was not just Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that created the Taliban, but it was the United States, your representatives were in the room, and so quit blaming Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Well, thank you, President Clinton. If there was a representative of the United States Government in the room, it was a representative of President Bill Clinton. It was a representative of our State Department. Want to ask who is responsible for 9-11? There you go. We now are dealing with national security threats that were passed on to us during the Clinton administration.
The world lost respect for us, and they certainly did not fear us at all after 8 years of Bill Clinton. Human rights under that administration was turned into America's lowest priority. It became a joke in the sense that we would have the President of the United States going to China, talking about human rights, and then having business as usual, even though those same human rights violations were going on. Dealing with gangsters and dictators and the likes of the Taliban became the order of the day for 8 years under President Clinton.
The number three man in bin Laden's terrorist operation, this operation that conducted the 9-11 attack on the United States, has told investigators that it was America's weak response to the embassy bombings, our embassies that were bombed in Africa, killing hundreds of people and many Americans, it was our tepid response to that, where we shot a few cruise missiles out into the desert, because we did not respond any more than that, it convinced these terrorists to move forward with their plan to attack the World Trade Center and kill thousands of Americans. That is the number three man in bin Laden's operation who has confirmed that that is what was on their mind.
Well, thank God we now have a President who acts forcefully and thus will prevent gangsters and terrorists and people like the Taliban from thinking they can attack Americans and kill us by the thousands and get away with it. No, our President is sending another message. It is a message of strength; it is of resolve, moral courage, and principle.
I am sure our President must know what Teddy Roosevelt said. One of Teddy Roosevelt's most favorite quotes of mine was, ``The greatest sin of all is to hit someone softly.'' You do not launch a couple of cruise missiles and hit the bare desert. After the attack on our embassies, they bombed a pharmaceutical factory that had nothing to do with the attack on our embassies. No, you do not do it that way. If someone attacks you and kills thousands of your people, you have got to act boldly, you have to act with courage, and you have to make them pay a price, or Americans will pay even higher prices in the years ahead. Again, thank God we now have a President that understands that principle.
In the months after 9-11, the President rose to the occasion. But let me add that in the months after just being elected President, in his first few months, I had three separate discussions in the White House about a policy that might eliminate the Taliban. So I was involved in discussions with the White House, this White House, the Bush White House, prior to 9-11, trying to make sure that we would move forward. I was having a very receptive audience on how we could rid the world of the Taliban regime. The President was, as I say, and his staff, were very, very receptive. And then 9-11 happened.
In fact, let me note that on 9-11 I called the National Security Adviser to the President. I actually called on 9-10, the day before the attack. Because of my contacts in Afghanistan and my analysis of what was going on, I realized our country was about to be attacked. I did not know exactly what form it would take, but I called the White House to warn the National Security Adviser. I called and I said this is an emergency, it is a national security emergency, I need to talk to Condoleezza Rice and the White House operative got back to me and said, Congressman, she is so busy today, but she will see you. He said she will see you tomorrow at 2 p.m. so on 9-11 I had an appointment at 2 p.m. in the afternoon to see Condoleezza Rice to warn her that our country was about to be attacked.
But let me just say that after the attack on 9-11, our President rose to the occasion. He has been an incredibly impressive human being in the days since 9-11. He has pledged to the American people that he will hunt down every one of those people involved, those terrorists, those murderers who killed our people on 9-11, and that we will do everything necessary to protect America's national security, and that is just what he has been doing over this last year and a half.
He has been handicapped, however, by the same State Department that traveled around after me all those years and stonewalled my efforts to get rid of the Taliban and to prevent them from getting into power, the same entrenched elite State Department is at play, and our President has had to deal with them all of this time in achieving his goals. They undermine elected officials whom they cannot control. And even with a world-class leader like Colin Powell at the helm, this entrenched foreign policy bureaucracy still seems to be in power and still has inordinate control over American foreign policy.
Afghanistan is an example. Even from the outside, the policy that we had towards Afghanistan seemed disjointed. It looked a little bit disjointed in the days after 9-11. It took our President and Secretary Rumsfeld to push aside a State Department that was committed, and get this, our State Department after 9-11 was still committed to keeping the Taliban in power, even after 9-11. It took all of the effort, as I said, our President and Rumsfeld to push that policy aside and trash-can it.
Let me note also, we were operating in Afghanistan after 9-11 almost blind. Members will hear that the CIA was involved in Afghanistan before the Green Berets, but let me tell Members and I cannot give the exact number but almost none, there was very limited CIA presence in Afghanistan. The State Department and the CIA did not know who the players were because they had pooh-poohed all of the anti-Taliban forces for so long they did not know who they were.
The plan at that point that the State Department was pushing was to leave the Taliban in power and to send a huge military force, an American force in through the south using Pakistan as a base of operations, and take control of perhaps Kabul or a city in southern Afghanistan and then to negotiate with the Taliban who controls the entire countryside for the return of bin Laden. That would have been a disaster, and it was based on leaving the Taliban in power, people who hated us, people who turned their country into a staging area for a terrorist operation intentionally. They knew what was going on. They hated America and hated the west, and we were going to leave them in power?
Well, let us put it this way. The best that our State Department could do and the CIA could do is probably that plan because they did not know anybody in the anti-Taliban forces. There was a team of people who went shortly after 9-11 to the Department of Defense, to the State Department, to the CIA, and made sure that our government at the highest levels knew the names and locations of those people who were fighting the Taliban who could provide thousands of fighters. We provided the names, the locations, the number of fighters available, and even the satellite telephone numbers of the so-called warlords who were in charge of tens of thousands of troops who would do our bidding on the battlefield against the Taliban.
That small team that went there to advise our government were made up of people like Charlie Santos, Paul Behrends, Al Santoli, Dusty Rhoades and myself. Meeting after meeting took place, and all this information was transmitted. At the DOD, people went to work immediately to try to put in place a plan that could dislodge the Taliban and destroy al Qaeda. The group in the DOD that took the ball and ran with it include Paul Wolfowitz, Peter Rodman, Bill Lutti and several others who acted immediately on this opportunity to work with the people of Afghanistan to help them throw out their tyrants.
We helped them liberate themselves from the tyranny of the Taliban. Thus, we accomplished our own foreign policy objectives by working with people and promoting our own ideals of freedom and democracy.
What was put into place was Task Force Dagger, one of the most successful military operations in U.S. history. It was turned from a plan into an historical accomplishment by the courage, skill and hard work of unsung heroes, yes, some of them in the CIA, and yes, many of them in the special forces. Special forces heroes like Captain Nutsch became legendary in Afghanistan but unknown to the people of the United States. Thanks to people like Special Forces Captain Nutsch, we won an incredible victory in Afghanistan, losing only about 35 people to hostile fire. We should be proud of our defenders and grateful to the Afghans who fought with them and destroyed the Taliban and bin Laden's forces in Afghanistan. For a second time, these people in Afghanistan did our bidding, rose up and fought America's enemy and defeated that enemy.
I recently visited the grave of a CIA officer who was there on the scene and helped fight this battle and helped organize this magnificent victory. I went to the grave of Mike Spann who was buried in Mazar-e-Sharif. I was there about 10 days ago. The local people are so grateful to Mike Spann they had a ceremony to honor him. They built a monument to him. It is a very inspiring monument because they realize that the Taliban oppressors would have never been defeated had the special forces teams not been there to help them with the logistic supplies and the forces that they needed to defeat the Taliban.
But let us not forget that as the battle in Afghanistan progressed, voices were heard here that were less than supportive of what we were doing. This was even after 9-11. The pessimists and naysayers were at work and they started talking, even after a week or two, talking about a quagmire that we were in, and they started a propaganda campaign against, and they are the ones who came up with the word ``warlords,'' they started
labeling our people and trying to find out what was wrong with those forces who were fighting with us rather than being grateful that we had people who were working with us to destroy the Taliban and al Qaeda who had murdered thousands of our people.
Forces under commanders like General Dostum, Halli, Ata, Faheen, and Ishmail Khan led ground forces there in Afghanistan that drove the Taliban out of Afghanistan and defeated the al Qaeda forces. I will let Members know the al Qaeda were the Taliban's old home people who were engaged in this sort of cult, which represented about 10 percent of the people. They were Afghans, but al Qaeda was made up of foreigners, many from Pakistan but many Arabs as well, who had come into Afghanistan to use Afghanistan as a base of operations against the west. But also, anyone in Afghanistan that raised their head in opposition to the Taliban were brutally murdered by bin Laden and his thugs. They were grateful when we came to help free them from these radical fanatics who were coming in from outside their country and murdering them to keep the Taliban in power.
Yes, we can be grateful to those people in Afghanistan. We can also be grateful to our special forces and CIA, and we can be grateful to those people in the United States. Again, these things do not just happen. They happen because we have planned for them. What happened is we had the high-tech weapons system that we needed to do the job. Yes, Bill Clinton during his years did permit some of these weapons systems to be built. He dramatically cut the defense budget, but that is okay. These weapons systems were permitted within the budget left.
But with those high-tech weapons systems, we were able, with the courage and cooperation and alliance with those people in Afghanistan, to get this job done. But what has happened in Afghanistan is not over. We need to do what is right diplomatically and make the right political decisions if we are to make sure that this does not happen all over again, that Afghanistan does not get drawn back into a morass of evil.
What we must do first of all is help them rebuild their country. Our President has laid out a plan that has been very committed even through the Iraqi operation to making sure the people of Afghanistan have the help they need. We have not given them enough as of yet, and there have been bureaucratic roadblocks to the rebuilding of Afghanistan. Although there has been about $1 billion spent and there are signs that things will be getting better, the pace has been inexcusably slow. We need to speed that pace up, and we need to make sure that they can rebuild their country and their aqueducts, rebuild their roads and hospitals and schools.
Mr. Speaker, ten days ago I was in Afghanistan. I drove about half the distance of that country on back roads, and I will tell Members it was a sight to see. There were burned out Russian tanks everywhere and rubble strewn. I saw a gang of kids, probably about 100 of them, and I stopped the car and went over to see them. I had an interpreter with me. It was kids who had arranged the rubble of a building that had been destroyed so they could sit down, and they were teaching each other to read and write. They were teaching each other to read and write sitting in the rubble. We need to work with those young people so they can learn to read and write, do their numbers, and so that they can be part of the community of nations, part of this great new world that we are building rather than be manipulated in ignorance by some extremist religious sect.
We also need to really make solid and right decisions about what is going on politically. Let me note that those people who helped us defeat the Taliban were basically from the northern part of the country where there are five different ethnic groups. These are not warlords and warlord armies, these are ethnic group militias that knew they had to arm themselves to be safe, just like our forefathers armed themselves and had their militias. That represents about half of the country in the north. That represents 50 percent of the Afghan population. The other 50 percent of the Afghan population are Pashtuns. Their territory is along the Pakistani border. Because they represent 50 percent of it, they represent a much bigger portion. Thus, in a central government we can expect that the Pashtuns will have much more influence than those 5 ethnic groups in the north.
But it was the ethnic groups in the north that were America's friends. They were the ones who put their lives on the line for us, and to a certain degree the Pashtuns did not fight very much at all; and, in fact, many of them were relatively sympathetic in one way or the other or at least acquiesced to the Taliban because they were cousins or whatever. This is what is happening today. Unfortunately, I am sad to report after my trip to Afghanistan, our government is again siding with those people who are not our friends, and they are trying to undercut our friends. The people who fought for us and helped liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban, those forces in the north, are being undermined, and they are doing everything they can to try to disarm those people even as skirmishes with the Taliban still occur in the southern part of the country.
And of course our government, the United States Government, the State Department, if I can put that in a more correct term, is pushing to have a system in Afghanistan totally out of sync with the American experience. In fact, they are using the French model in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan what they are doing is asking for a strong central government that will appoint local leaders. That is not what we do in the United States. We have layered government. We have federalism. We have
State and local people elected; thus, if someone takes over Washington, whether it is Bill Clinton or whoever, the whole country does not go crazy. They just say okay, we have different people in different parts of the country. We have checks and balances and separations of power. They want none of that in Afghanistan. They want a strong government that will be dominated by Pashtuns who were sympathetic to Taliban or dominated by an ethnic group that was sympathetic and at the expense of the people who fought for us.
The answer is very simple. Let us look to the American experience. Let us stand for American principles. Let us not model it after France. Let us have a government that we can support in Afghanistan that gives those people freedom like we have in the United States to control their own destiny through the ballot box.
And how should we do that? It is very simple. In Afghanistan let the people there enjoy the right to control their destiny through the ballot box through a federal system, and, that is, they should have the right to elect their local mayors like we do and like in Canada, like what is happening in Iraq. We are insisting they have a system in Iraq where the Kurds and the Shiites and the Sunnies all get to elect their local mayors and provincial governors, but the State Department in Afghanistan is insisting that we go the opposite direction. Why? Because a deal has been cut somewhere. That is what everybody believes. I have no evidence right in front of me that there is a deal any more than I had evidence for a long time that there was a deal with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia about the Taliban to begin with; but in the end if we follow what the State Department is trying to push on the people of Afghanistan, we will have a strong central government and the people in the north who are our greatest friends will be denied the right to elect their own local and provincial leaders. This is wrong. It is wrong, and it will not work.
Our Government works because our Founding Fathers had an understanding of human nature. If people control their own police force or their own schools locally, they will be less threatened by a central government that is someone who controls it who is a bit different than they are, perhaps of a different ethnic group because that person only has control over the national army, which it should, and road systems and communication systems and health care and such that are of national importance, but the people locally can control their own destiny through the ballot box, through electing their own mayors and governors and control their police force. If a policeman is beating someone up, we call the mayor whom we have elected, and the mayor is not an appointee of Kabul. He is our friend because he has been elected there, and he will make sure that we are being treated right by our government.
Or if our kids are not learning in school, I should not have to convince our State Department, Americans, that it is right for people to elect their own leaders, but yet that is what they are trying to foist on the people of Afghanistan, and of course there is a reaction from the north. The so-called warlords, are they going to disarm for that? When I was there, I went and talked to three of the so-called warlords. They are really people who are military leaders of militias of the various ethnic groups, and I got a terrific and a tremendous positive response to the idea of this, and this is what I have offered as a compromise, and of course our State Department, just like when I tried to offer the king as an alternative to the Taliban, I imagine they were trying to undercut this alternative all the way; and that is the military leaders in the north have agreed to disband their armies, to totally demobilize and to disarm if the constitution in Afghanistan, which our government is involved with pushing, guarantees the right of local people to vote and control their own destiny through the ballot box, meaning they can vote for their provincial governors and for their local city councils and mayors. Is that too much?
These so-called warlords who we are going to hear being vilified over and over again, these warlords are willing to disarm, to trade in their bullets in exchange for ballots. Is that not a wonderful accomplishment? And of course I am pushing that as a compromise, and I would hope that our government, just as I know we had to shame the State Department into giving up its notion that the Taliban would stay in power, I hope that the State Department is made to understand that we are going to have a democratic system in Afghanistan that permits all the people guaranteed rights through the same sort of guarantees we have in the United States. We want to use the American model, not the French model, in Afghanistan. That is what will work. That is what we need to do, and I would hope that we do not have a corrupt deal with
Pakistan again to try to force one group into a controlled situation of all of Afghanistan.
That is the type of immoral decision-making and political power, wheeling and dealing that does not work. What works, fascinatingly enough, and makes it a more peaceful world and works for the security of our country is not wheeling and dealing pragmatism, which the State Department talks about, but instead principled, principled and moral decision-making. How about that? Pragmatism does not work. It does not make a better world. Principled and moral decision-making does.
So, by the way, just let me just suggest that I think that we too can make it work not only in Afghanistan, but that same idea works with Iraq. Our President showed his incredible leadership and his strength and resolve in liberating Iraq. And as I say, we can help bring those people to a more democratic society and a society where they can elect their provincial leaders. That is our policy in Iraq to let provincial leaders be elected, their governors and their mayors, but not in Afghanistan.
Whether or not Iraq under Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction is not relevant, and I know I keep getting asked this and my liberal friends keep pushing on this, when are we going to find the weapons of mass destruction? I do not care if we never find weapons of mass destruction. The fact is Saddam Hussein had a blood grudge against the people of the United States for what we did in eliminating him from power when he invaded Kuwait. We humiliated him in front of the world. He would have done everything possible to hurt and kill the people of the United States, the more power he got in his hands. And Iraq has vast new oil resources that are becoming available to it. Within a 5-year period had we not acted, Saddam Hussein would be the most economically powerful person not only in that region but in the world.
And is there any doubt he would have used that power to overthrow the weak and the fat Saudi regime and thus he would have become even more powerful, perhaps the most powerful man on the Earth, and we were going to let that happen? A man who hated us and had a blood grudge against us? Maybe he did, maybe he did not have a nuclear weapons program; but with the tens of billions of dollars available to him, 5 years down the road he would have bought as many nuclear weapons from China or Korea as he wanted to buy. That was definitely a threat. And unlike President Clinton, our great President, George Bush, decided not just to pass it on to a future generation. Now that the people of America were focused and willing to do what was necessary for our security, President Bush prudently decided that taking Saddam Hussein out and working with the people of Iraq to build a democratic Iraq was the most important thing we could do for our national security, and I am sure that President Bush is going to leave to the next generation of Americans a world that is safer and more secure and with more opportunity than what his predecessor left the world with, which was he left us with every problem that he did not solve.
I mean, President Clinton left us with the Taliban and al Qaeda; and, by the way, he also left us with a Korea that we now find has what? A nuclear weapon. By the way, the Clinton proposal that stopped the crisis over the nuclear weapons program in Korea was that President Clinton agreed to give lots and lots and lots of money to North Korea, one of the weirdest dictatorships in the world; and over the last 7 years, I guess it has been, over my objection and the gentleman from California's (Mr. Cox) and others, North Korea has been the largest recipient of American foreign aid of any country in Asia; and now they tell us, guess what, we fed their people, and they use their own money to develop a nuclear bomb. Surprise, surprise.
If I have any complaint of our President during this crisis in our lead-up to Iraq was that he did not immediately talk about the moral basis for his decision-making. He was playing lots of games, and I am sure the State Department made him play those political power games at the United Nations and with NATO, but it took him a long time to do that, and he jumped through a lot of hoops trying to prove he was sincere; but I think that was a waste of our time, and, instead, it took him a while to get there, but when he gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, he laid the moral case out, and from that moment on we were out to liberate the people of Iraq, to work with them, to stand by them in building a more peaceful and a democratic society and to free them from this monster, Saddam Hussein, who not only had a blood grudge against the people of the United States but was the oppressor and the murderer of their people. So thus the moral case that the President made at AEI, I think it was a historic speech. I would recommend it to all of my colleagues, and I would suggest that was when our effort in Iraq took off. That was when the momentum was created that was unstoppable.
And sometimes I am asked why did the Iraqis not just jump up and start supporting us as we predicted? What had happened was 10 years before under President Bush, Sr., we had let the Iraqis down and they were not certain when our forces came in that we would stay there and actually help them liberate themselves from their tyrannical regime. But I think there is every evidence now that that country is going in the right direction and that country will be a light for democracy, and we will use this victory to spread democratic government and peace throughout this troubled region, a region that was handed to us by George Bush's predecessor in flames. The Shiite demonstrations that we see are much smaller than the people can see on TV. The Shiite people of Iraq are Arab-speaking people. The Shiites of Iran are Persian. They are not the same group of people. And also the people of Iraq just freed themselves, the Shiites, of a monstrous dictatorship. They are not going to replace it with another dictatorship of clerics or anybody else.
Our job in Iraq, as the President has stated, is to help those people build democracy, and we will not let anyone pressure their way into that government. I know the President has the respect of the people of the world now; and when he makes that statement, they listen to him unlike they would any other President.
So I have every confidence that we will not permit anti-democratic forces to pressure their way into power, and that we will work with the good people of Iraq in building the infrastructure of a system that will permit them to democratically elect their leaders. And, when they do, we will leave, if that is what they want us to do. We will be happy to leave. The President has made that clear. The people of the United States have made that clear. Because in building democracy in Iraq and helping the other people of that region to have democratic government, it helps in our own security.
We are, with our commitment to freedom and democracy, building a better and more peaceful world. This is a world consistent with the dream of our Founding Fathers. This is a world that, again, is based on decision making, morally, in principle, based on decision making. That is the way to make a better world, not pragmatism that is making sort of power compromises and deals with people and regimes and gangsters.
It is when we stand up for our principles and we try to build democratic societies, that is when things get better. That is what works in this world.
So I am very grateful tonight to have had this opportunity to go into these details. We have challenges ahead of us, because there will always be people in the State Department and elsewhere who are thinking they are being pragmatic, but really are not living up to our principles. There always will be people who undercut our efforts and just do not believe that America can be a force for freedom overseas. That happened to President Reagan too, when he tried to fight the Soviets.
But we can, with courage, with a commitment from our people, we can build a world that is more prosperous, we can build a world at peace, and we can build a world that is more free. And our greatest allies are the people of Iraq, the people of Afghanistan and the people everywhere in those Third World countries and other developing countries that long for democratic process and for a better life for them and their children.