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Monday, September 10, 2007

Vermont Voices

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2007 at 7:47 PM

Many I've run into of the last few days have acknowledged the depression. You're not alone.

Honest.

Especially those following George "WMD" Bush's apparent winning drive to keep our troops in Iraq, the blood flowing and the cash registers ringing for Haliburton and the rest of 'em, while everything else is falling apart!

The Democrats may have a majority in House and Senate, but they do not have enough votes to win. Perhaps one can take brief comfort in the voices of Vermont's Capitol Hill threesome: Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch.

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Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
On The Testimony Of General Petraeus And Ambassador Crocker
On The Continued Deployment Of U.S. Troops In Iraq
September 10, 2007

The Bush Administration misled the nation into one of the costliest blunders in our history, wrongly connecting Iraq to the attacks of September 11.  Ever since then they have attacked anyone who has dared to question their poor judgment, their lack of a coherent strategy and their incompetence.

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Six years ago our troops had cornered Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.  Then the Bush Administration diverted our military resources to Iraq, and he slipped away.  He remains on the loose today, and terrorism has increased worldwide.  Meanwhile, the war in Iraq has lasted longer than World War II, squandering hundreds of billions of U.S. tax dollars.  The President wants to keep the pedal to the floor in this war, dumping the Iraq mess onto the next President’s doorstep.

The inescapable reality remains that the Iraqis are no closer today to any kind of political settlement to end this conflict.  No surge of additional military force will change the situation when the Iraqis themselves are not willing to make these hard choices.  In the meantime, our presence discourages the Iraqis from taking responsibility for their own future.

With no light at the end of the tunnel after more than five years of war, the answer is not to keep lengthening the tunnel.  The answer is to begin bringing our troops home from the middle of Iraq’s civil war.

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Senator Bernie Sanders issued the following statement on the war in Iraq:

“In 2003 President Bush misled us into an unnecessary war with Iraq and today, four and a half years later, he is still misleading us.

“The goal of the ‘surge,’ as stated by Mr. Bush on December 9, 2006 as he announced the troop expansion was ‘an Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself.’   It was to give the Iraqi government the time and space it needed to bring about political reconciliation and long-term stability.   Yet according to such nonpartisan observers as the Government Accountability Office, that has not happened.  Despite the extraordinary efforts and sacrifice of American soldiers, the Iraqi government remains divided and dysfunctional.  Of the 18 benchmarks that they were supposed to have achieved by now, only three have been met, four have been partially met and 11 have been outright failures.

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“The Iraqis themselves know the ‘surge’ has not worked.  According to a recent ABC/BBC poll, more Iraqis say security in their local area has gotten worse since the ‘surge’ has begun, than say it has gotten better.  Most dishearteningly, a majority of Iraqis now believe that it is acceptable for attacks to take place against American troops—with 57 percent now holding that view, which bodes badly for American forces stationed in Iraq.

“After the deaths of more than 3,700 American soldiers, the wounding of over 27,000 more, and the expenditure of over $500 billion, it is not acceptable that the Bush administration still has no exit strategy.  We are caught in a morass:  General Petraeus has said the Iraqi situation would not be resolved "in a year or even two years," and this summer referenced the “at least nine or 10 years” it took Britain to resolve the violence in Northern Ireland.   This sort of long-term occupation is totally unacceptable.

“The United States needs to move in a new direction in Iraq.  It must also find a new direction for fighting the growth of international terrorism.

“I will continue to demand a timetable for the withdrawal of our troops, a withdrawal which should be completed within the next year.  Although we must continue to support the Iraqi government and their military so that they can defend themselves, the time to begin bringing home our American troops is now.”

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Congressman Peter Welch
United States House of Representatives

“Iraq is in the middle of a civil war that cannot be resolved by the United States military.  The uneven progress reported by General Petraeus is tactical progress in service of what is the President’s failed military policy.  While our soldiers have bravely and characteristically done the job they have been asked to do, they cannot continue to referee a civil war or bring about the political and economic reforms necessary for stability in Iraq.

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“Just last week the nonpartisan GAO reported that the Iraqi government has failed to deliver on nearly every benchmark of success put forth by President Bush.  The Iraqi Parliament has not passed needed legislation to promote Sunni-Shiite reconciliation, Iraqi security forces remain dominated by sectarian militias, and reconstruction funds are still sitting idle in Iraqi bank accounts.  Only in the Bush administration can a failing grade be considered a success.

“It is long past time to end this war and bring our troops home.  Regrettably, the President continues to cling stubbornly to his failed policy and appears intent on running out the clock on his presidency rather than admitting the need for a change in course.  Congress must use the power of the purse to force a change of policy and end this war.”

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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Bio:
Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.

More by Peter Freyne

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