Gillibrand and Sweeney on Iraq
Post Star by Maury Thompson published 10/22/06:
Editor's note: This is the final in a six-part series examining how candidates for the 20th Congressional District seat, incumbent John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, and Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, feel about today's issues. [Post Star also covered the candidate stances on Local Economy,Energy Policy,Social Security,and Affordable Housing.]
The Iraq war has been one of the major issues in the race for Congress in New York's 20th District.
The Post-Star invited the candidates to submit an essay detailing their Iraq policies.
Republican John Sweeney and Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand agree the U.S. military should not continue its current level of involvement indefinitely.
And both candidates agree oil revenues could be used to stabilize the situation in Iraq.
Yet the candidates also have marked differences in their views.
Gillibrand proposes setting a notice period of less than a year for the United States to begin withdrawing forces from Iraq.
Sweeney said setting an "artificial deadline" for withdrawing troops before the Iraq government is ready could leave Iraq open to infiltration by terrorists.
Sweeney proposed allowing the three main Iraqi sects to establish independent federated states, supported by a shared oil revenue structure.
Gillibrand said partitioning off the country would weaken the government.
Gillibrand said the United States should pledge not to have permanent military bases in Iraq.
Sweeney said in an interview Saturday the House has already voted not to have permanent bases in Iraq.
Sweeney said the U.S. government has made mistakes in its Iraq strategy. He did not specify those mistakes.
Kirsten Gillibrand on the war in iraq
We can no longer afford a stay-the-course strategy or partisan politics; our troops deserve real leadership and a strategy for success in Iraq. Americans deserve to have Congress clarify its mission in Iraq by passing a resolution that states America will not establish permanent bases or have claim to Iraqi oil.
We must create a sense of urgency for Iraqi leaders by setting a notice period of less than a year, to be defined by our military leaders, for establishing a stable government in which the Shia, Kurds and Sunnis have an equal share in the government, reconstruction contracts and oil profits. By effectively using our leverage in the region, we will encourage the Iraqis to choose peace over civil war. Dividing Iraq into three regions will weaken the region, and give Iran more leverage as it continues to build its nuclear program and use its resources to undermine peace.
After the notice period, we must redeploy U.S. troops to anti-terror missions, and fully implement the 9/11 Commission recommendtions, including investments in port, airline and border security.
Finally, we must honor those who have served by providing health care, education and job training benefits to our veteran and military families.
John Sweeney on the war in iraq
Like every American, I want to see our troops come home as soon as possible. However, it is irresponsible and damaging to our troops to call for an immediate withdrawal -- neither is staying the current course acceptable.
An artificial deadline only provides terrorists with wait-us-out strategy and when the last U.S. soldier leaves, the current insurgency will erupt into a full-scale civil war, disrupting the security in a volatile part of the world.
The next three to five months will be critical to our overall strategy in Iraq.
We must put additional pressure on Prime Minister Maliki and Iraqi Security Forces to defend their own nation.
However, they cannot stand alone yet.
In my four trips to Iraq, I have seen our mistakes and know we must change strategy to see victory.
I am advocating a structure that allows the various Iraqi sects to establish independent federated states under one oil revenue-sharing structure -- that can provide for their individual safety and security against Iran and Syria.
I do not support a politically motivated call for a timetable withdrawal.
Those who propose immediate withdrawal cannot answer the question of what happens to Iraq and global security after we leave.
Related: Sweeney voted to support Bush and stay the course recently in congress. Sweeney's letter to constituents this summer told us "While all of this was important to the formation of a permanent government, difficult days and hard work still lie ahead in Iraq for both our military and this fledging [sic] democracy. As difficult as it is to question the mission, we must continue to unite in our support for both instead of cowering at the sight of controversy. It is more important than ever that America stands firm in support of the Iraqi citizens." Read the entire letter here.