Republican Opposition to Iraq War Growing Now There Are Nine

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First
it was Walter Jones (R-NC) who began to speak out in favor of an
exit strategy for Iraq. Now there are nine. This is still a trickle
— but it is a growing one. And as the support for the war decreases,
evidence of the failure of the occupation and the increased risk
the occupation poses to security at home becomes more apparent,
this trickle could develop into a pounding river.

Rep.
Jones has called for an exit strategy for two reasons. First, he
recognizes that he was misled into supporting the war by misinformation
about weapons of mass destruction. Second, he cares deeply for U.S.
troops and after writing hundreds of letters to the families of
soldiers who died in Iraq he thought it was time for them to begin
to come home. The U.S. has toppled Saddam, arrested him and many
of his top leadership and the first vote in Iraq has occurred —
the U.S. has done its job — it is time to take U.S. troops out of
risk.

Rep.
Jones was joined by Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) in co-sponsoring
the Homeward
Bound Act
with Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Neil Abercrombie (D-HI).
Rep. Paul is a Republican with strong libertarian instincts. He
has written critically about the "NeoCon
Global Government"
because he sees it hurting "the
United States in blood, money, and sovereignty." And in a column,
"Ignoring
Reality in Iraq"
written on December 13, 2004, he points
out that "a recent study by the Pentagon's Defense Science
Task Force on Strategic Communications concluded that in the struggle
for hearts and minds in Iraq, u2018American efforts have not only failed,
they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended.'
This Pentagon report flatly states that our war in Iraq actually
has elevated support for radical Islamists. It goes on to conclude
that our active intervention in the Middle East as a whole has greatly
diminished our reputation in the region, and strengthened support
for radical groups. This is similar to what the CIA predicted in
an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, before the invasion
took place." Further, he chides those who opposed the war for
not supporting the occupation. This includes many Democrats, like
the candidate for Senate in my state Maryland, Ben Cardin, who initially
opposed the war but now votes to keep funding it and opposes an
exit strategy. Rep. Paul said of these types:

"Even
opponents of the war now argue that we must occupy Iraq indefinitely
until a democratic government takes hold, no matter what the costs.
No attempt is made by either side to explain exactly why it is
the duty of American soldiers to die for the benefit of Iraq or
any other foreign country. No reason is given why American taxpayers
must pay billions of dollars to build infrastructure in Iraq.
We are expected to accept the interventionist approach without
question, as though no other options exist."

Recently,
Rep. Paul was joined on the House floor by Rep. John Duncan, Jr.
(R-TN) discussing why true conservatives should oppose the "undeclared
and unnecessary war" in Iraq. He began his June 28 speech "The
Situation in Iraq"
saying: "Madam Speaker, last year
William F. Buckley, Jr., said if he had known in 2002 what he had
since learned, he would have opposed the war in Iraq. A few weeks
ago, he wrote that it is now time for the U.S. to get out and leave
Iraq to the Iraqis."

In
a speech two weeks earlier, "Hidden
Costs of War,"
Rep. Duncan pointed out the sad realities
of the war: "the most unfortunate thing has been the more than
1,700 young Americans who have been killed there now, and the some
12,000 who have been wounded, many of them severely wounded, maimed
for life, in what was a totally unnecessary war." He reminded
people that before this war started he told people "that there
was nothing conservative about this war; that it was going to mean
massive foreign aid, which conservatives have traditionally been
against; that it was going to mean huge deficit spending, which
conservatives have traditionally been against." He highlighted
the comments of Lawrence Lindsey, who was the President’s leading
economic adviser until he was fired for his comments on the war,
who said before the war started that "it would cost $100 billion
to $200 billion. Now, by the end of this fiscal year, we are going
to be at the astounding figure of $300 billion. And I think the
only reason more people are not upset about that is that it is humanly
impossible to truly comprehend a figure as high as $300 billion."

Another
Republican, Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) has joined in co-sponsoring the
Homeward Bound Resolution. He represents the Eastern Shore of Maryland,
a Republican stronghold. His website features commemorations of
U.S. troops and a more than 100-year-old essay "The
Present Crisis,"
by poet James Russell Lowell that examines
the choices between good and evil that people and nations must make.
He wants to see a cautious withdrawal from Iraq — one where Iraq
is left stable and U.S. troops are protected.

James
Leach (R-IO), a moderate Republican who has differed with the president
on Iraq from the outset, this week voted against a proposal opposing
an early exit from Iraq. He has quietly questioned the war. In a
speech
on December 23, 2003 on Iraq he said: "America is in a strategic
pickle and Americans are in a judgmental quandary." He addressed
the limits of a superpower's power by asked a series of important
questions:

"Does,
for instance, overwhelming military might protect us from terrorism
or, if used unwisely, increase our vulnerability to terrorism?

"Likewise,
does overwhelming economic power ensure loyalty or buy friendship
even from the countries most indebted to the US?

"In
other words, can military and economic might ever become a substitute
for sensible and sensitive foreign policy?

"And
given the dilemma of Iraq, could it indeed be that the most important
u2018multi-billion' problem America faces is not deficits measured
in dollars, fiscal or trade, but the antagonism of billions of
people around the world who object to our current foreign policy?"

He
noted "Many are not convinced by our words; many are appalled
by our actions" and concluded the speech saying: "The
lesson of the past year is clear: America does better as a mediator
and multi-party peace maker than as a unilateral interventionist."

There
were some surprises in the vote opposing an early exit strategy
from Iraq.

Rep.
John Hostettler (R-IN), who made national news recently for his
comments on Christianity saying: "the long war on Christianity
in America continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives"
and "continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would
eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by
the usual suspects, the Democrats." Rep. Hostettler is a member
of the Armed Services Committee, his website is silent on Iraq,
highlighting instead his efforts to prevent gay marriage and to
place the ten commandments in government buildings.

Rep.
Zach Wamp (R-TN) who is the second ranking Republican on Homeland
Security Committee and who has spoken out against terrorist beheadings
of captives in Iraq, contrasting that with "the serious mistakes
of a few Americans at the Abu Ghraib prison."

Rep.
Don Young (R-FL) who has served in the Congress for 34 years and
is a strong advocate for the military. He describes himself as "a
staunch supporter of our brave men and women in uniform who are
fighting daily in defense of freedom." And, who proudly proclaims
that he has made "certain that defense contracts awarded benefit
the workers and economy of Pinellas County. The defense programs
Congressman Young has brought to Pinellas County have created thousands
of new jobs here, and have helped create a world-class research
and technology sector in the Tampa Bay area."

Rep.
Thomas Petri (R-WI) who is in his 14th term in Congress
is most known as someone who closely monitors the budget. There
is very little on his website about Iraq. The only mention is somewhat
tangential — a column
noting how the New York Times which is "reflexively hostile"
to President Bush had something nice to say about him because of
movement toward Democracy in the Middle East. Petri notes: "Freedom,
it seems, is on the march." In another column "Some Good
News From Iraq" he states:

"Continuing
American deaths and injuries in Iraq make me ill. I want to reduce
the exposure of our troops as fast as possible. Also, I would
much prefer to spend American money here at home, and I have raised
plenty of questions about our aid programs in Iraq and elsewhere.
But since we’re in Iraq, we have to make the best of it."

Progress
seems to be being made in the House. The vote against the amendment
opposing an early exit from Iraq totaled 137 against the amendment
and two voting present. A majority in the House is 218 so we are
81 votes away from the majority. On May 28 when the House voted
on the Woolsey Amendment
for an exit strategy the vote was 128
in favor of the amendment and five not voting. Congress will soon
be taking a summer recess. They will be hearing from their constituents
on Iraq when they speak at community meetings. This September the
anti-war movement is getting behind a major demonstration and lobby
day on September 24–26. Momentum is building as the 2006 elections
approach.

July
23, 2005

Kevin
Zeese [send him mail]
is a director of Democracy
Rising.US
. You can comment on this article by visiting
the blog
.

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Zeese Archives

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