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Words DO matter..........

by Mac McMullen / November 23, 2005 6:41 AM PST

In an e-mail from Rep Heather Wilson:

Words matter.

In 1933, the Oxford Union Society debated a resolution: this House will not fight for King and country. The resolution passed as the sons of survivors of World War I passionately denounced armed conflict.

It was a pivotal time in European affairs and many historians believe that the German Chancellor who had been elected in 1933 was influenced by this widely reported vote to believe that Britain would remain on the sidelines of any European war. That newly elected leader was Adolf Hitler.

On Thursday morning the headline in al Jazeera was "Democrat Calls for Immediate Withdrawal." The Washington Post, New York Times and major networks carried similar stories.

Some rank and file members of Congress felt that it was important for the troops and for our enemies to know exactly where the House as a whole stood on this question.

So, we debated a resolution on Friday supporting immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

I sat on the floor listening to my colleagues for the last hour of the debate. While the firebrands had dominated the preliminaries, it was the veterans who spoke when the resolution itself came to the floor. Mostly Vietnam vets like Sam Johnson of Texas. He spent 7 years as a POW wondering if his country would walk away and leave him behind.

After September 11, 2001, we made a decision to play offense in fighting the war on terror, to track down enemies who would kill Americans and give them no place to hide. Our troops are doing a fantastic job, and terrorists know they have no hope of defeating our troops in the field. They know that the center of gravity in their fight is to undermine the will of the American people.

The next step in building Iraq's political future is elections in December under a new, completely Iraqi Constitution. Broad participation in these elections will continue to build political momentum for a new self-governing Iraq at peace with its neighbors.

While the political process moves forward, the United States and its allies must continue to train Iraqi police and security forces so that week by week, month by month, more neighborhoods, towns and provinces are patrolled and controlled by Iraqis.

There are still difficult days ahead and much work to be done - much of it done by our men and women in the military.

I expect U.S. forces will continue to stay in Iraq through December's elections at roughly their current level. But if political and security progress continues on roughly the course we are on, American forces should be able to start being drawn down in significant numbers during the course of next year. These redeployments should be based on conditions in the field. As the Iraqis stand up, we can stand down.

Words matter.

They matter to our enemies and to our troops.

On Friday night the House spoke. By a vote of 403 to 3 we rejected immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

Fifty years after that resolution was passed by the Oxford Union Society many of the men who had participated in it came back to debate it again.

Almost all of those who had said they would not fight for their King or country did so. They flew in the Battle of Britain, followed Montgomery across North Africa, faced U Boats in the north Atlantic and landed on the beaches at Normandy.

They spoke with passion and the wisdom that comes with sixty odd years of life experience. And they talked of friends who had not come home.

Words matter. And on that night at the Oxford Union Society, fifty years after that first debate that had encouraged a tyrant, the vote went the other way. Some things are worth fighting for.

Words matter.

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