Sunday, June 26, 2005

"Quagmire...Could Force a Draft"

Wisconsin senator says Americans are getting frustrated

By Patty Brandl
Fond Du Lac Reporter, Wisconsin, June 26, 05

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold has introduced a resolution in the U.S. Senate calling on President Bush to create a timetable for achieving goals and withdrawing American troops from Iraq.

“Disappointment about Iraq is deepening. The majority of Wisconsinites are very skeptical of the way the war is going,” Feingold, D-Wis., said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning. “We didn’t sign up for an indefinite occupation of Iraq.”

The Wisconsin senator said there are three important questions the administration must answer:

-- What is our mission?

-- What is our time frame in which our mission can be accomplished?

-- And over what period of time can our exit happen?

It’s not a cut-and-run strategy, he said. Troops would have to remain, particularly to provide training for the Iraqi military. And the United States will have to concentrate on making resources available to help the Iraqi people rebuild their government and their country.

According to an Associated Press story, President Bush continues to press his argument that U.S. troops cannot specify a timetable for withdrawal until Iraq is assured of victory over the insurgents.

Bush to address troops

The president will make a direct appeal to the American public in an address to troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Tuesday night with a call “to complete a mission” the United States has started in Iraq. The White House is asking television news networks to make live air time available.

Feingold said a clear plan would help in budgeting more responsibly for current and future military needs.

The resolution does not set up a time frame for troop withdrawal. Feingold said that’s something for the military commanders to decide. It does, however, call for a commitment by Bush to set a tentative schedule for withdrawal within 30 days of its passage.

The senator said he returns to Wisconsin almost every weekend. When he meets with his constituents, he has noticed the number of people who approach him asking when the U.S. government can bring their sons and daughters home has been on the rise.

“Soldiers are dying, the pace is increasing, and the people of Iraq are dying daily,” Feingold said. “Our defense is being weakened.”

With five more Wisconsin soldiers killed in Iraq in recent months, he said it’s time to give people a vision of a plan for U.S. troops coming home.

Volunteer army tested

“About 7,000 of our 10,000 people in the National Guard have had to go over there,” he said. “Our volunteer army concept is great. But some in the army are saying the military is in desperate straits.”

Bush, speaking at a press conference Friday with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, urged support for the U.S. effort in Iraq.

“They (terrorists) know that ... the carnage that they wreak will be on TV,” Bush said. “They know that it bothers people to see death. And it does. It bothers me. It bothers American citizens. It bothers Iraqis. They’re trying to shake our will. ... And so, of course, we understand the nature of that enemy.

“We also understand that there is reason to be optimistic about what’s taking place,” said Bush, pointing to the development of a new, democratic government in Iraq and training of Iraqi security forces that ultimately must defend the nation.

Feingold said he’s concerned that if the military operations extend indefinitely, it could require more troops than would be available under the current volunteer military structure.

“If it becomes a quagmire, it could force a draft,” he said. “I oppose a draft, but I do understand why they might need it if things go on as they are.”


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