When you lead, people follow. Because a handful of progressives were vocal and fearless, eventually public opinion turned against the Iraq war. If we and other outspoken advocates hadn’t ignored the conventional wisdom and continued pressing for peace, the war in Iraq would still be going on today.
In April 2004, I started speaking from this spot on the House floor about my strong anti-Iraq war convictions. Eventually, my speeches focused on Afghanistan, where we’ve now been waging war for more than 11 years -- despite more than 2,000 Americans dead and nearly $600 billion wasted; even though we are undermining our own interests and failing to bring security and stability to Afghanistan.
Over the last eight-plus years, I have spoken here in this spot nearly every day that I could, to drive home what a moral disaster and strategic failure these wars have been.
But these speeches haven’t just been about bringing our troops home. They have offered a new vision for global engagement. From here, I have outlined my Smart Security platform, which calls for development and diplomacy instead of invasions and occupations; civilian surges instead of military surges.
Smart Security means helping other nations educate their children, care for their sick, and strengthen their democratic institutions. Smart Security says: we can make America safe by building international good will, by empowering people with humanitarian assistance instead of sending troops or launching drone attacks. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do. And it costs pennies on the dollar compared to military force.
Today, I am delivering that message for the 444th and final time on the House floor. This is the last of my special order speeches on war and peace and Smart Security. I am retiring from Congress in the next few weeks, and I believe my legacy will be that I worked diligently for peace and a safer world.
I’ve sometimes been accused of wanting ‘a perfect world.’ But I consider it a compliment. Our founders strove to form a ‘more perfect union’ – why shouldn’t we aim for a perfect world? I am absolutely certain that if we don’t work toward a ‘perfect world,’ we won’t ever come close to providing a safe, healthy and secure world for our grandchildren and their grandchildren.
Rep. Woolsey, a Democrat from California, delivered this speech -- her 444th and final special order speech -- expressing her
opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and her support for a
“Smart” approach to national security: She is retiring at the end of this Congress.