Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Kirsten Gillibrand on Iraq

Gillibrand supports timeline for exit from Iraq Sweeney rejects challenger's call to instill "sense of urgency" on Iraq's government

By TIM O'BRIEN, Staff writer First published: Wednesday, August 23, 2006 In The Times Union (link)

ALBANY -- Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand called Tuesday for the United States to set a timeline for withdrawing American troops from Iraq.

...Challenged by Gillibrand to debate the war, Sweeney repeated his stance that he would wait to debate his opponent until after Labor Day.

Responding to President Bush's comments Monday that U.S. troops would not exit Iraq as long as he is president, Gillibrand said he was wrong and ought to set a timeline of six to 12 months to withdraw.

"We need a new direction in Iraq," she said. "John Sweeney supports President Bush's failed approach. We need a congressional leader who will no longer be a rubber stamp for the administration." ...

At a news conference outside the state Democratic Committee headquarters in Albany, Gillibrand outlined the steps she said need to be taken before troops withdraw.

"We should have a congressional resolution that says we will not have permanent bases in Iraq and we will not have a claim on Iraqi oil," she said.

The Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds all need to be given a share in revenues and jobs from reconstruction work and oil sales, she said: "It gives them a stake in peace."

Gillibrand balked at the description of setting a timeline as "cutting and running."

"My greatest concern is how we undermine terrorism," she said. Money now being used in Iraq should instead be committed to port security and other initiatives to battle terrorism, she said....

"I was critical of some of the decisions made," Sweeney said, adding there were insufficient troops at the war's outset. "Out of the 18 provinces in Iraq, 14 of them now have relative peace and some prosperity. Four provinces are real trouble spots. One of the questions I have is should we be committing more forces in those four provinces?"

Sweeney added that special forces, rather than regular Army troops which are larger in number, should be assigned to those provinces.

"We've made many, many mistakes. In all wars, that happens, but we need to be successful," he said. "If we're not successful, I fear for our children's future. I don't know any wars in which any nation has been successful and said, 'We're only here to X date.' "

But Sweeney said Shiite and Sunni leaders could be warned that if they do not gain control then partitioning the nation could be a solution.

"I certainly don't believe we need to give them the impression we're going to be there forever," he said.

Without setting a definitive timeline for an exit, Gillibrand argued, the United States is giving Iraqis no reason to take charge.

"It's not a defined enough time frame to develop a real sense of urgency," she said.

Sweeney fears for our children's future? What about the people who's children he wants to send to Iraq and their future? As long as we are in Iraq, people there are going to fight us. Sweeney said in the story that we have to think about what Iraq will be like when we are gone, what about how it is right now? Last month had the highest Iraqi civilian death toll, doesn't he realize that developments like that are not good for Iraq nor are they good for America? Sweeney is not offering any plans to change course, and if you don't make changes in the direction you are going, you will wind up where you are headed. Sweeney sounds a lot like Rumsfeld when he claims that most places in Iraq are peaceful and prosperous, more on the Rumsfeld Rosey Picture Mindset is available here.

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