Thursday, July 03, 2008
On the Issues - The War In Iraq
Between now and the August 5 primary, I'll be looking at several important issues facing our country and Michigan's 7th District, and I'll be trying to give you some idea of where each of the candidates stands on the issue. I'm going to do my best to be unbiased, but I hope you'll forgive me if a little bias creeps in.
The War in Iraq
There's less media coverage and slightly less violence, though it's worth noting that 29 American soldiers died in Iraq during June (up from May), and 712 Iraqi civilians died in the same period. Although less that in other periods, Iraq is far from peaceful-- certainly not as safe as Detroit. The decline in violence is largely due to the "surge," or increased troop levels proposed and enacted by President Bush in 2007. That policy was intended to give the new Iraqi government a chance to enact much-needed legislation and bring together its own country... something which has not happened. Of the 18 benchmarks for measuring progress in Iraq, the Iraqi government had accomplished only three of them as of January of this year.
Meanwhile, as the Detroit Free Press reported last month, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are fleeing their country in what is rapidly becoming one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world.
WASHINGTON -- A half-million Iraqis fled their embattled country in 2007, the third consecutive year more Iraqis were displaced than any other nationality, a survey of the world's refugees reported Thursday.In the United States, meanwhile, media coverage of the war has declined. From a March 24, 2008 article:
Media attention on Iraq began to wane after the first months of fighting, but as recently as the middle of last year, it was still the most-covered topic. Since then, Iraq coverage by major American news sources has plummeted, to about one-fifth of what it was last summer, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism.Yet despite this, the war in Iraq remains one of the issues considered "very important" in public opinion polls. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted from June 26 to June 29, 2008, found that 84 percent of Americans labeled "the situation in Iraq" as either "very important" or "extremely important," making it the second most important issue, after the economy (94 percent) and above gas prices (77 percent) and health care (76 percent).
When asked to choose the issue that should be the top priority of the federal government in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll (June 6 to June 9, 2008), 24 percent chose the war in Iraq, second only to "job creation and economic growth," at 27 percent.
The same CNN poll cited above found that 30 percent of Americans favor the war in Iraq and 68 percent oppose it. As far as future policy in Iraq, those polled were asked:
"If you had to choose, would you rather see the next president keep the same number of troops in Iraq that are currently stationed there, or would you rather see the next president remove most U.S. troops in Iraq within a few months of taking office?"To that question, 33 percent said they would rather see the troop levels stay the same, while 64 percent said that they would rather see most troops removed from Iraq.
It's important to keep in mind that these are national numbers, and that the 7th District itself is likely somewhat different.
Tim Walberg (R)
On his campaign website, Congressman Tim Walberg says this under the header "Safe & Secure America":
Tim believes energy independence is essential to our national security. That’s why he supports expanding the use of alternative energies, and exploring for energy in Alaska to reduce gas prices and our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.This is all he has to say on anything even remotely resembling the war in Iraq. His official House website gets a little closer to taking a position, under the header "War on Terror":
As Americans we are reluctant warriors, but throughout our rich history, whenever our troops have been in harm’s way, America has supported the men and women in uniform and made certain our troops have the necessary resources to accomplish their mission.In 2006, his campaign website read:
Tim wholeheartedly supports President Bush in the War on Terror. He supports Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and our troops as they finish the mission in Iraq to assure the victory of freedom over tyranny.When Secretary Rumsfeld resigned in November of 2006 and Robert Gates was appointed to replace him, Walberg's website was changed to read:
Tim wholeheartedly supports President Bush in the War on Terror. He supports Secretary of Defense Gates and our troops as they finish the mission in Iraq to assure the victory of freedom over tyranny.Also in 2006, from my coverage of the Siena Heights University congressional debate:
"Do you support a withdrawal from Iraq? If not, what future course do you see?"And, in an article published in today's Dexter Leader, Walberg says:
In his response, Congressman Walberg repeats a common misconception about Iraq prior to the war, saying that "we cannot allow Iraq and Afghanistan to once again become training grounds from which terrorist groups can plot and launch attacks around the globe." Although Afghanistan's Taliban government did provide a safe haven for al Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden (here and here, for example), there is overwhelming evidence that the same is not true of Iraq under Saddam Hussein.
For instance, from the Washington Post:
The Sept. 11 commission reported yesterday that it has found no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and al Qaeda, challenging one of the Bush administration's main justifications for the war in Iraq.and, on "60 Minutes," former CIA Director George Tenet said:
"It never made any sense. We could never verify that there was any Iraqi authority, direction and control, complicity with al Qaeda for 9/11 or any operational act against America. Period."In Congress, Walberg has voted in support of President Bush's troop "surge," against a responsible redeployment from Iraq, and against funding for troops in Iraq that includes a timetable for withdrawal. Walberg also voted against mandating longer periods of rest and recovery for servicemembers between tours of duty in Iraq.
Speaking in support of the "surge," Walberg said the following on the floor of the House of Representatives:
“I rise today to honor America’s brave men and women currently serving in the name of freedom and oppose this resolution of retreat.Note that when Congressman Walberg says:
Without a doubt, mistakes have been made in Iraq, and these mistakes are important to acknowledge, but we must go forward with a new strategy in Iraq based on quantifiable goals and measurable results.... he was apparently satisfied with meeting only three of the 18 benchmarks noted above.
Note also that, while Congressman Walberg says:
"Well in fact in many places it's as safe and cared for as Detroit or Harvey, Illinois or some other places that have trouble with armed violence that takes place on occasion."... that level of safety and security is apparently not sufficient to bring home the 154,000 American military personnel currently in that country.
Mark Schauer (D)
On his campaign website, state Senator Mark Schauer has this to say, under the header "The War in Iraq":
Schauer is, in fact, incorrect in his assertion above. He says that "nearly 4,000 American lives have been lost and more than 28,000 have been wounded," when in fact, as of today, 4,112 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq and well over 30,000 American soldiers have been injured.
Like Walberg, Schauer is asked by the Dexter Leader to share his preferred policy for the war in Iraq:
When I spoke with Senator Schauer last year, he said:
The Bush Administration has created a mess in Iraq. We need to be clear that by changing policy and beginning to withdraw troops, that doesn’t mean that it’s gonna be easy going in Iraq. It’s gonna be very difficult. But what I know is that a policy of staying the course and further long-term involvement of our troops in Iraq is not the answer, and I think will make things worse over a longer period of time. I would expect to be part of a Congress that will change policy, begin to reduce our military involvement in Iraq. I’m not going to commit to a specific timetable, but clearly we need to begin to reduce our military presence in Iraq and allow that to country to rebuild itself…As a legislator in the Michigan Senate for the entire duration of the war in Iraq, Schauer has not had the opportunity to vote on funding or withdrawal bills as Walberg has. However, in 2003, shortly after being sworn into the Michigan Senate, he voted against this resolution:
Sharon Renier (D)
On her campaign website, Sharon Renier has a great deal to say-- more than can be quoted in this post. To get a complete picture of her thoughts on the subject, read her entire position, under the header "War and War Powers of Congress." I'd like to provide you with a few excerpts from that essay:
The war in Iraq is wrong. I've been saying so since it began. I was saying so when it wasn't fashionable to do so, which is why I bravely stood up and ran for US Congress in 2004 and 2006. I also have a way to get our troops out. One way is to bring Iraqi troops here to be trained. Currently, if you are an Iraqi troop, you get to go home at night to your family. Bring them here and let's get them trained in 8 weeks like we do our troops. The second part of the equation is covert, a secret, and I'll keep that to myself. In case we ever get to use my idea, I want to make sure that our troops remain safe.In the issue of the Dexter Leader cited above, Renier is also asked about the war in Iraq:
In 2006, as the Democratic nominee for the 7th Congressional District, Renier had this to say at the Siena Heights University debate:
"Do you support a withdrawal from Iraq? If not, what future course do you see?"
While I agree that the Cheney-Bush administration made serious mistakes in Iraq and we've paid a terrible price. I frimly belive we did the right thing there and we did what American's do best; liberate the opressed. I'm proud of our troops and their cause of freedom and justice. We took down a terrible tyrant and oppressor. I'm disappointed in the political stalemate it has caused us becasue of poor strategy and planning but hopefully, the Iraqi people will celebrate their Independence Day like we celebrate ours here in the future. God Bless our Troops, God Bless the Iraqi people and may freedom and justice prevail for all people.
Happy Independence Day!
Was the oil oppressed? That's all the Bush administration seems interested in "liberating". Based on opinion polls, the Iraqi citizens want US troops to leave. If the brave, freedom-loving "anonymous" really believes in freedom for the Iraqi people, then he should agree that it's time for the US to leave.Post a Comment
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