06/15/2006 05:51 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Iraq Debate

The Iraq debate in the House of Representatives should begin with one fundamental truth: We are in Iraq and our leaders have no plan to get out of Iraq.

The President says U.S. soldiers will stay in harm's way, for as long as he says so.

"We will stand down," our leaders say, "when the Iraqis stand up." In other words, Iraqi clerics and the factions they control and the decisions they make will determine what we can do.

The extent of our involvement, the length of our stay, the number of our dead is controlled by religious clerics in Iraq, because we have no strategy except to wait for Iraqis to "stand up."

Today, the American people say with a growing voice that Iraq was a mistake and staying with no plan or timetable is the wrong course for our soldiers and our nation.

Today, the American people are joined by citizens in countries around the world--- our closest friends and allies among them--- who say the Iraq War has made us less safe.

The unending war, the permanent bases, the fortress embassy we're building all make a powerful argument that our involvement in Iraq is more an occupation than a liberation. This promotes terrorism. This helps recruit terrorists, it doesn't help end terrorism.

U.S. soldiers in Iraq are doing a heroic job. But, we are not doing ours. It is not partisan politics to insist that a nation in war have a plan to achieve peace.

We are in a war, and we need a battle plan from the President, not a message memo from the House Majority Leader or a Republican debate book from Mr. Rumsfeld.

There is only one plan at the moment, put forth six months ago by Rep. John Murtha, and only today are we able to discuss it at all - with no ability to alter the Republican resolution.

As a veteran myself of the Vietnam era, I must say that Rep. Jack Murtha is a soldiers' soldier, a combat hero who has only one goal--- to defend our nation with the finest military and the best plan. Jack Murtha has a plan. It's smart, proud, honest and effective.

I support the Murtha Resolution that puts in place a plan to protect our soldiers, protect American interests in the Middle East, and protect the American people here at home.

It's a military battle plan that resolves to bring our troops home on a timetable driven by the United States, not subject to the approval of Iraqi clerics.

American soldiers need a battle plan, not a resolution that reflects a bunker mentality of a Republican Party losing its grip on political power.

Two things of note came out of the Pentagon today: the grim announcement that the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq has just passed two thousand, five hundred, and a 74 page booklet to help Republicans manage spin control during the Iraq debate in the House.

That's an affront to the American people, not a front in the war on terror. The American people want change because the Pentagon under this Administration distributes PR plans, not military plans.