NEW BRITAIN, CT (September 13) Two hours before President Bush layed out a vague, stay the course policy on Iraq from the Oval Office, Cong. Chris Murphy (D-5) made his strongest statements yet on why U.S. policy is on a disastrous course, and why he favors a "precipitous withdrawal" with a firm date.
Speaking at New Britain's Slade Middle School to a much larger audience than at a similar forum last April held in the same school auditorium, Murphy gave a troubling report to residents, many of whom shared his opposition and frustration over the five-year old conflict.
In striking contrast to the Bush-Petraeus report this week on progress made after a January troop "surge", Murphy said the current return on U.S. investment of $329,670,330 a day ($10 billion a month)has bought the "bloodiest summer of the war" in terms of American service men and women killed or wounded. Moreover "August may have been one of the highest months for civilian casualties." While we are informed about more than 3,700 U.S. dead and 27,000 wounded so far, Murphy said that data on Iraqi civilian dead and wounded is classified and unreported. Murphy, in fact, speculated that the leveling off of violent attacks claimed by the administration may be because "there is almost no one left to kill." Of so many communities destroyed in Iraq, the freshman congressman noted there is an enormous number of refugees and a humanitarian crisis that the U.S. will need to address for many years.
Speaking of the Iraqi government, Murphy said the practice of putting "cash on the ground" to buy the loyalty of sheiks and ethnic leaders would only go so far. He agrees with the conclusion of the nonpartisan General Accounting Office (GAO)that the coalition government propped up by U.S. money and soldiers is "bordering on collapse."
President Bush made clear his plan to extend a huge U.S. military presence beyond his Presidency and continue a strategy that seems to beget more violence as the U.S. expends $120 billion a year at current rates.
Cong. Murphy, conceding that more Republicans need to agree to a firm exit strategy to change policy, made equally clear his resolve to mobilize with other freshman to draw a line in the sand on continued funding for the war with a new $50 billion request due to come to Congress soon.
Finding a way to withdraw, Murphy said, will help to restore U.S. credibility in the world, ending a war built on lies and a bullying style of nation building that must come to an end in January 2009.