Amid a general chorus of U.S. approval for the Iraqi election results yesterday, Rep. Charles B. Rangel called the vote “a success by Republican standards” and said Americans “don’t want their children to die for other people’s freedom.”
“I don’t believe that the American people think that it was worth the lives of 1,200 Americans and 25,000 men and women in the armed services wounded, tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Iraqis dead,” the New York Democrat said.
Mr. Rangel, a Korean War veteran, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the war in Iraq is a “fraud” and that the United States cannot and will not bear the price of its children’s blood to spread democracy abroad.
“We cannot afford to free people all over the world. We don’t have that many lives to give up,” Mr. Rangel said.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, also appeared on “Meet the Press” and challenged Mr. Rangel, saying people yearn for freedom beginning at birth. Mr. Grassley defended President Bush’s State of the Union speech and its call for liberty. He and Mr. Rangel agreed yesterday on the need to spread freedom to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, North Korea and China.
“The president did not declare war on January 20 in his [inaugural] speech. What he declared is the natural goal of human beings all over the world, and that’s simply to be free. It’s just natural,” Mr. Grassley said.
“It’s in man’s basic nature, going back to John Locke, that people want to be free and they’re born free,” Mr. Grassley said, referring to the 17th-century British philosopher.
Mr. Rangel, who mentioned his Korean War service in yesterday’s appearance, responded that Americans “don’t want their children to die for other people’s freedom.”
“I’m telling you, we went into Iraq not for elections. We went there to knock off Saddam Hussein, but the American people thought it was connected with 9/11, there was weapons of mass destruction, there were connections with al Qaeda. It was all a fraud,” Mr. Rangel said.
“We’re fighting this war with other people’s kids,” Mr. Rangel said.
The results of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq announced yesterday show a cleric-backed Shi’ite coalition leading with 48 percent of the vote, followed by the Kurdish alliance with 25 percent, which some U.S. leaders predicted would prompt the Kurds to form a governing coalition with other minority groups.
More than 8 million Iraqis, nearly 60 percent of eligible voters, turned out to cast ballots despite repeated threats of violence by insurgents.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, said the results show that the Middle East country is moving toward democracy.
“The hope, the optimism, is there,” Mr. Frist said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Mr. Bush congratulated the winning candidates and said “the United States and our coalition partners can all take pride in our role in making that great day possible.”
“I congratulate the Iraqi people for defying terrorist threats and setting their country on the path of democracy and freedom,” Mr. Bush said yesterday. “And I congratulate every candidate who stood for election and those who will take office once the results are certified.”
Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican, called it a “good thing” that the main Shi’ite coalition didn’t get 50 percent of the vote so cannot dictate how the country will be run.
“Democracy is going to be at work, not just at the polling places, but now within the halls of the government. That’s a wonderful accomplishment,” Mr. Santorum said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“Now we’re seeing the workings of democracy within the legislative branch and the parliament, trying to come up with coalitions and work together with people that, in many cases, never worked together before. This is what democracy and democracy-building is all about,” Mr. Santorum said.