SENATOR FUMO'S REMARKS ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE, MAY 2, 2005, CONCERNING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S OIL-RELATED REASONS FOR TAKING THE UNITED STATES TO WAR IN IRAQ
Several weeks ago, I rose in this chamber and read the names of two Pennsylvanians killed in the Iraq War, along with a few details of how they died in combat.
I want us to remember that American fatalities over there are not just statistics. They are the lost lives of real flesh and blood human beings, usually young people entering the prime of their lives, who should have been able to look forward to a bright future.
Today I would like to pay tribute, by name, to two more Pennsylvanians who sacrificed their lives in Iraq.
According to statistics released by the Department of Defense, 1,576 Americans have now been killed in combat in Iraq since that war started.
Of those, 1,369 have been killed since July 2, 2003. What is the significance of that date? Because on July 2, 2003, the Texas cowboy who occupies the White House said of the enemies who wanted to fight us in Iraq: ďBring them on.Ē 1,369 Americans killed, among them Corporal Grimes and Sergeant Swank, since George Bush challenged the Iraqi insurgents to ďbring them on.Ē
Of course, we know he isnít a real cowboy. He just likes to swagger like one. He likes to play one on TV, the way he did in August 2001, when he took a month-long vacation to stage photo-ops on his Crawford ranch while the intelligence experts back in Washington were trying to get people in his administration to pay attention to reports that Al-Qaeda was planning an attack in the United States.
No, he isnít a real Texas cowboy.
But he was once a Texas oilman. A real oilman -- although apparently not a very good one. His Arbusto Oil Company went bankrupt.
There is plenty of current evidence to suggest that he still doesnít understand the economics of oil. The invasion of Iraq was all about oil, but it is looking more and more like another horrendous miscalculation by the Bush Administration.
Some weeks ago, when I spoke on this floor about the problem that this ill-advised war was causing in military recruiting, I was accused by a member on the other side of the aisle of criticizing the war on terror. But I did not do that. After September 11, when our country invaded Afghanistan to clean out the Taliban and put al-Qaeda on the run, patriotic Americans agreed that it was the right thing to do, and we rallied behind that effort. That really was part of the war on terror, and thatís where we should have kept our military focus.
Instead, we turned our attention to Iraq.
Not because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, because he didnít.
Not because Iraq had connections to al-Qaeda, because it didnít.
Not because Iraq had provoked the conflict by attacking the United States, because it didnít.
Not because Saddam was a brutal dictator Ė although he was -- because there are brutal dictators in other countries, including some in the Middle East, and we arenít invading them.
Not because we feared Saddam was developing a nuclear arsenal, because we know for a fact that other rogue nations such as North Korea have nuclear weapons, and we arenít invading them.
No. We turned our attention away from Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden, where it belonged, and toward Iraq, because of Iraqís rich oil fields. The neo-conservative crowd, led by the chief architect of the war, Paul Wolfowitz, originally argued for the invasion because they thought they would gain control of the huge Iraqi oil reserves, increase production, and drive down the price.
As a bi-product, they thought it wouldnít hurt if some American petroleum companies benefited in the process. In fact, Ahmed Chalabi, who did so much to instigate the invasion by feeding Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz bad information about non-existent weapons of mass destruction, said before the war that he favored the creation of a U.S. led consortium to develop Iraqi oil fields. He was quoted in the Washington Post in 2002 saying: "American companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil."
And remember this one? The Bush Administration said in the beginning that they could pay for this war with Iraqi oil revenues. But instead, the whole bill is going to American taxpayers -- actually, because of the Bush Administrationís massive budget deficits, it would be more accurate to say that the bill is going to the grandchildren of todayís American taxpayers.
But todayís adults arenít getting off the hook completely. The price of oil and gasoline is going in exactly the opposite direction from the one Paul Wolfowitz planned. Itís going up.
Oh, I know it dropped a few cents in the past few weeks. But in March of 2003 when this war started, it was running about $30 per barrel. During 2002, its average price was $24 a barrel. Now itís up over $50.
Gasoline was selling for less than $1.50 a gallon at the pumps in March 2003. Now itís up around $2.15 or $2.20 a gallon.
So 1,576 brave and patriotic young Americans who were following orders and doing their duty, have given their lives in Iraq. Many more continue to be in harmís way. Another 6,084 have been wounded badly enough that they were unable to return to action in Iraq. All in a war that was not about fighting terror, but was mainly about oil, and has done more harm that good in that area.
Weíre not going to get cheap gas any time in the near future, or the distant future. But I predict that we will have American soldiers in Iraq for many years to come. And as long as we do, Iím going to stand up on this floor on a regular basis between now and 2008 when George Bush leaves office, and remind Pennsylvanians of the ultimate sacrifice he has forced some of our sons and daughters to make.
Thank you, Madam President.