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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Oregon State Senator Avel Gordly Speaks Out on the Iraq War

Several Resolutions regarding the War in Iraq are circulating around the Oregon State Capitol, but at a pace virtually certain to guarantee that they will come up for floor debate after--I say again--AFTER!!!--the United States Congress takes up the issue and votes, rendering the Resolutions both late and moot.

This is the equivalent, on this Super Bowl Sunday, of waving pom poms after the game is done, the teams have left the field and the popcorn sweepers are at work.

Where the analogy is false is in comparing the catastrophic tragedy of Iraq to the phony, bloated importance of what is nothing more than the last professional football game of the season.

But there is no question of where the attention of the nation is focused.

Kickoff time is hours away.

In Iraq, the US military has just acknowledged that insurgents have learned how to shoot US helicopters down, and released the information that they did so four times in January.

The nation shakes its pom poms today.

Senator Avel Gordly took the direct route on Friday, posting the following Open Letter on her legislative website at

Open Letter on the War in Iraq
February 2, 2007

Dear Mr. President, the United States Congress, the Oregon Delegation:

This morning, the funeral procession for Private First Class Ryan Hill, only 20 years old, began at the front steps of the Oregon State Capitol.

Private First Class Hill was a member of the United States Army and he resided in Keizer, Oregon. He died Saturday, January 20 in Baghdad, Iraq.

Once again, flags will are flown at half staff. Once again, our Governor will stand with a military family at a gravesite.

Once again, Governor Kulongoski will pray that this funeral service will be the last, as he has done more than seventy times since the beginning of the Iraq catastrophe.

Once again, a bereaved family sheds tears that will have no end.

Private First Class Hill was at the front, on the leading edge of the “surge” into Baghdad that you, Mr. President, have ordered our troops to perform.

A few days ago, I met Steve and Karen Weiss, whose son is currently one of the youngest Marines west of the Mississippi. The Weiss’s are very proud of their son, but they worry because he and his unit are part of your “surge” into Baghdad, and in order to make that surge happen, the training these Marines should be receiving before deployment has been cut short.

Here in my office, as Mrs. Weiss wept, we held hands and prayed together for her son’s safety.

If we value the lives of these young men and women, then we owe it to them to see that they receive the equipment and the training they need before we put them in harm’s way, but that is not being done. I say again, before we put them in harm’s way.

If we value them, we need to give them more than words, more than yellow decals…and more than moments of silence.

You, Mr. President, hold the office of Commander in Chief, and you have the power to order men and women to die, but you are—sadly and tragically--using that power poorly and for the wrong reasons.

For more than three years, you have characterized our role in the Iraq War as that the United States is a part of “Coalition Forces.”

You have stated many times that this is a war with Coalition Forces on one side and insurgents and terrorists on the other.

Yet, it is not Coalition Forces that are being ordered into harm’s way, Mr. President, it is the troops under your control—like our fine Oregon National Guard soldiers—and them alone that are being sent to fight and die in Iraq.

Nowhere in your new strategy is there a role for “Coalition Forces.”

The fact is that these “Coalition Forces” will not enter the battle as long as our troops are there.

Other nations with security interests equal to ours in the Middle East will not enter the battle against the insurgents and terrorists while it is our men and women doing the fighting and dying.

And less than one half of one percent of the nation is actually fighting the war.

The rest of us are risking nothing and sacrificing nothing. We are not even paying for the war. That burden has been levied on our children and grandchildren.

We are a nation in crisis, Mr. President, yet there is no sense of shared sacrifice among us.

On the same day that Private First Class Hill was laid to rest, Exxon Mobile announced that it had—for the second year in a row—the most profitable year in American history, and that it did so despite a decline in earnings in the last quarter of 2006.

Your war strategy has depended upon using and re-using the same military personnel and the same military families over and over again, and the nation says “Enough.”

This is still a democracy, Mr. President, and the voters have spoken. The nation has spoken.

Mr. President, it was the people—functioning as a true democracy—who brought the Viet Nam War to an end.

It was the people who—tired of empty promises and false rhetoric and grandiose dreams of spreading American-style democracy to the far corners of the globe—forced the Administration to alter its course and bring our troops home.

But not before 60,000 American soldiers lay dead in their graves.

The Nation has spoken, Mr. President, and this time we will not wait. We are speaking to you directly, as directly as is possible in this democracy.

We are speaking with our votes. We are speaking with our voices. We are speaking through our elected representatives. Some few of us are speaking through shed blood, sacrifice and loss.

We speak for them.

The nation calls on you to leave behind the empty promises, the false rhetoric and the grandiose promises of this war, this war that you began on your own authority.

We call on you to bring our brothers and sisters home.

Avel Louise Gordly
Senate District 23
Multnomah County

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