Murtha says: "Iraqis Are Against Our Occupation"
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Congressman John Murtha's response to a speech by President Bush in Philadelphia on 12-12-05 as follows:
Murtha said the United States is seen as an occupier by Iraqis, and, being in Philadelphia, he drew a comparison to the American Revolution. He said that if the French had
remained in the infant United States after the Revolutionary War, "we'd have thrown them the hell out of here." That's how Iraqis are reacting now to the presence of U.S. troops, the 73-year-old congressman said.
"The Iraqis are not against democracy, they are against our occupation," he said.The complete Philadelphia Inquirer article reads as follows:
Posted on Mon, Dec. 12, 2005
MURTHA DISPUTES BUSH ON IRAQ
By Paul Nussbaum
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Rep. John Murtha on Monday rejected the Bush administration characterization of the war in Iraq, calling it a fight against insurgents, not terrorists, and he said it is a battle the United States cannot win militarily.
Murtha, a Democrat from western Pennsylvania, reiterated his call for the withdrawal of American troops, speaking in Center City about an hour after President Bush spoke a few blocks away.
Murtha said the United States is seen as an occupier by Iraqis, and, being in Philadelphia, he drew a comparison to the American Revolution. He said that if the French had remained in the infant United States after the Revolutionary War, "we'd have thrown them the hell out of here." That's how Iraqis are reacting now to the presence of U.S. troops, the 73-year-old congressman said.
"The Iraqis are not against democracy, they are against our occupation," he said.
Murtha, a defense hawk and decorated Vietnam veteran who has become an outspoken foe of the administration's Iraq policy, last month sponsored a resolution calling for American troops to be withdrawn from Iraq as soon as practicable. He said the Americans could be withdrawn within six months and redeployed to bases in Kuwait and Japan.
Murtha said the fighting in Iraq amounts to a civil war and the United States should let the Iraqis fight it.
"We could be there 25 years," he said.
Murtha was in Philadelphia to discuss the development of a strategic military port at the former Navy Yard. The 32-year House veteran from Johnstown has followed Bush's recent round of optimistic speeches with his own critiques, but he said he had planned to be in Philadelphia before Bush decided to speak here.
At a news conference at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, Murtha wrapped his arm around the shoulder of Pat Noone-Bonner, 65, of southwest Philadelphia, who said she feared her son in the National Guard might be dispatched to Iraq. He was flanked by Philadelphia Democratic congressmen Robert Brady and Chaka Fattah.
"It's not going to get better with us over there," he said. "They'll let us fight forever."
"I say, it's up to them."
Murtha said his original support for the Iraq war was "a mistake." He said he had been persuaded at the time that it was necessary because Iraq represented a "threat to our national security," which he now thinks was untrue.
But original claims about biological and nuclear weapons proved untrue, American troops were not provided enough manpower or equipment, and the fight has now devolved from a liberation to an occupation, Murtha said.
Most Iraqis disapprove of the presence of U.S. forces in their country, yet they are optimistic about Iraq's future and their own personal lives, according to a new poll.
More than two-thirds of those surveyed oppose the presence of troops from the United States and its coalition partners and less than half, 44 percent, say their country is better off now than it was before the war, according to an ABC News poll conducted with Time magazine and other media partners.
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