Iraq crucial issue, Wamp tells chapel audience
June 21, 2006

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The situation in Iraq is the most critical issue before the new Congress, Tennessee Third District Rep. Zach Wamp told an audience of students, faculty, and staff at Bryan College Tuesday, Jan. 25.

Mr. Wamp, beginning his sixth term in the House of Representatives, said the cost of America’s involvement in Iraq has been high in terms of the number of lives lost, but the cost of not acting could have been much higher.

He compared America’s response to terrorism to the nation’s response to Pearl Harbor in 1941. “We could have retreated from engagement with Japan, but we engaged, used force, and today Japan is an ally.”

He pointed out that he initially opposed former President Clinton’s engagement in Eastern Europe, but as a result of American actions in the region democratic societies are emerging. “Engagement worked, in part.”

While the situation in Iraq remains unsettled, the coming elections are a major victory for freedom, he said. “There are 7,000 candidates and 14 million eligible voters. We expect about 25 percent of those elected Sunday will be women. What a dramatic change! Never has the Arab world seen anything like that.

“The question will be asked that only history will decide: ‘Was it worth it?’ After September 11, I believe we have to be on the offensive.”

Turning to the matter of Social Security reform, Mr. Wamp said he supports the concept of younger workers being given the opportunity to invest part of their Social Security taxes “into an account that can make money. We’re in a pay-as-you-go situation. For a generation, Congress has been taking money out of Social Security. Actuarially, Social Security is sound for a few years, but by 2018, more money will be going out than is coming in.”

Although the President has not detailed his reform plans, Mr. Wamp said he expects any proposal to be opposed by those on “the left, who will say don’t mess with it, and by the right who will say I don’t want the cost of the proposal to add to the national debt or budget deficit.”

How to pay for the reforms will be a major point, he said, with proposals ranging from changing the retirement age to cutting benefits for workers who retire in the future.

He urged the students not to consider Social Security a retirement plan, but a supplement to their main retirement funds.

In response to questions, the Congressman said America’s action in Iraq cannot necessarily be repeated in other trouble spots in the world. “We can’t go into every corner of the world and impose our values. We’re not a global policeman,” he said. But he added trade policies and other non-military means can be used to influence nations with totalitarian governments.

Iraq was a special case because Saddam Hussein had used weapons of mass destruction – gas – on his own people, and posed a threat to the region.

He added that the Iraqi elections pose a potential problem for the United States in that we cannot afford to hold a free election and, at the same time, control who is elected. “We have to live with the results,” he said.

He said he believes President Bush “is passionately pro-life.” Although the President has said there is no “litmus test” for his judicial nominees, he believes Mr. Bush will nominate judges who share his views.

“God may be opening a window when it is possible that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. I didn’t think it could happen, but as people pray, as God’s kingdom rises up, so many things can happen. Don’t underestimate the power of the Almighty in a country like America. The wrong thing happened in 1973; who says the right thing can’t happen now?”