I rise in opposition to this resolution,
which I sincerely believe will do more harm than good. I do agree with the resolution's
condemnation of violence. But I am convinced that when we get involved in foreign
conflicts and send strong messages, such as this resolution will, it ends up
expanding the war rather than diminishing the conflict, and that ultimately
comes back to haunt us.
Mr. Speaker, I follow a policy in foreign affairs called non-interventionism.
I do not believe we are making the United States more secure when we involve
ourselves in conflicts overseas. The Constitution really doesn't authorize us
to be the policemen of the world, much less to favor one side over another in
foreign conflicts. It is very clear, reading this resolution objectively, that
all the terrorists are on one side and all the victims and the innocents are
on the other side. I find this unfair, particularly considering the significantly
higher number of civilian casualties among Lebanese civilians. I would rather
advocate neutrality rather than pick sides, which is what this resolution does.
Some would say that there is no room to talk about neutrality, as if neutrality
were a crime. I would suggest there should be room for an open mind to consider
another type of policy that may save American lives.
I was in Congress in the early 1980s when the U.S. Marines were sent in to
Lebanon, and I came to the floor before they went, when they went, and before
they were killed, arguing my case against getting involved in that conflict.
Ronald Reagan, when he sent the troops in, said he would never turn tail and
run. Then, after the Marines were killed, he had a reassessment of the policy.
When he wrote his autobiography a few years later after leaving the presidency,
he wrote this:
"Perhaps we didn't appreciate fully enough the depth of the hatred and the
complexity of the problems that made the Middle East such a jungle. Perhaps
the idea of a suicide car bomber committing mass murder to gain instant entry
to Paradise was so foreign to our own values and consciousness that it did not
create in us the concern for the Marines' safety that it should have. In the
weeks immediately after the bombing, I believed the last thing that we should
do was turn tail and leave. Yet the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics
forced us to rethink our policy there. If there would be some rethinking of
policy before our men die, we would be a lot better off. If that policy had
changed towards more of a neutral position and neutrality, those 241 Marines
would be alive today."
It is very easy to criticize the government of Lebanon for not doing more about
Hezbollah. I object to terrorism committed by Hezbollah because I am a strong
opponent of all violence on all sides. But I also object to the unreasonable
accusations that the government of Lebanon has not done enough, when we realize
that Israel occupied southern Lebanon for 18 years and was not able to neutralize
There is nothing wrong with considering the fact that we don't have to be involved
in every single fight. That was the conclusion that Ronald Reagan came to, and
he was not an enemy of Israel. He was a friend of Israel. But he concluded that
that is a mess over there. Let me just repeat those words that he used. He said
he came to the conclusion, "The irrationality of Middle Eastern politics forced
us to rethink our policy there." I believe these words are probably even more
valid now than when they were written.