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Tester and Richards on Iraq (Foreign Issues, Day 2)

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Okay, second day of the issues positions by Paul Richards and Jon Tester. We’ve had some great suggestions for a round of domestic questions, so keep them coming. You can contact me at dpogreba@gmail.com if you have any ideas.

Question 3. Do you support a specific timetable for withdrawal from Iraq?  What specific steps do you believe the United States should take to ensure victory in Iraq?

Tester:  I support the war in Afghanistan, I support the War on Terror, and I fully support our troops in Iraq and everywhere they serve.  However, President Bush was too quick to declare victory in Iraq, and he was unprepared for the insurgency that followed.

It is time for the President to articulate a clear exit strategy for American troops from Iraq.  An open-ended occupation is not in the best interests of the United States, the Iraqi people, or the Middle East.  The time has come to support our troops by laying out a plan to bring them home.

Some of our best retired generals who understand the situation in Iraq have argued that an exit strategy for American troops from Iraq by the end of 2006 is feasible and in the best interests of America.

The time has simply come for us to have a plan in Iraq so that our nation can turn its attention, and its economic and military resources, toward pressing economic and homeland security needs.

Richards: Yes.  We should be entirely out of Iraq within the calendar year 2006.  Most Americans agree we need to support freedom, empowerment and independence around the world.  However, many question the Bush/Cheney administration’s fervent belief that we must play “world policeman,” especially where oil supplies are concerned.

It is expensive playing world cop.  And, if we throw our weight around like a bully – unfairly or with disrespect – ill will is generated.  If we ignore the Geneva Conventions, the Kyoto Protocols, and other world treaties that promote respect between countries, we give ammunition to those who condemn us.

I don’t believe we can ensure victory in Iraq.  Victory for what?  The oil companies?  The Shiites?  Sunnis?  Kurds?  They all have different takes on what “victory” would be.  For me, victory would mean the following: After so many years of war and corrupt leadership, the people of Iraq now need food, tools, building materials, water treatment facilities, and medical supplies.  Instead of more bombs, let us airdrop these essential items so Iraqis can rebuild their country!  Let the Iraqis look forward to overflights by American helicopters and airplanes!  And, let there be no military ground presence.  The Iraqi people need to control their own resources and their own destiny.  The American people need to learn from this colossal mistake we call the Iraq War.  Americans can no longer afford to let the oil industry drive U.S. foreign policy.  We need to get back to principles, ethics, or belief in democracy.  We need to start walking our own talk.

The United States simply does not need all the new military bases in the mid-East and central Asia that we are constructing as quickly as possible, in order to ensure U.S. domination of both areas.  In addition to morally and economically bankrupting our own country, heavy militarization and U.S. policies of occupation will only stir the enmity of China, Russia, India, and other crucial countries in the region.

Opportunistic oil-dictated policies can prop up repressive foreign dictatorships, such as the U.S. currently does in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, or as we did in the past with Saddam Hussein and the Shah of Iran.

Instead of spending hundreds of billions of dollars playing world policeman and supporting dictators, we can invest that money into our nation’s energy infrastructure.  Every farmer could harvest wind power, every rooftop generate solar electricity, every car be made fuel-efficient, and every home and factory be insulated – all for a pittance what we spend on shortsighted, mean-spirited oil wars.

Energy independence is the solution.  And, that doesn’t mean the dependence nightmare scenarios of the oil, coal and nuclear industries.  It means renewable energy, serious conservation programs, millions of small-scale generation projects, and subsequent strengthened local economies now!

Instead of endlessly occupying other countries, let those in the military help with this essential rebuilding of our own country.  We need their talent and skills!  Support Our Troops!  Bring Them Home Now

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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