Where Do the Candidates Stand on the Iraq War?


            During the 2004 presidential campaign, the Iraq War was the hot-button issue separating John Kerry supporters and George W. Bush supporters.  The insurgency was raging, and people on the left and the right were adamant about their candidate’s position on the issue.

            Fast forward to 2008, and the Iraq War has taken a back seat because of the success of the troop surge, which has quelled the sectarian violence.  Nevertheless, the war is still a crucial element of this campaign because the next president will likely determine how long American troops will remain in the Middle East.  Regal Magazine looks at Barack Obama and John McCain’s stance on the war and how it will affect the security of Americans abroad and at home.

            “Here is the truth: fighting a war without end will not force the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future,” Obama said.  “And fighting in a war without end will not make the American people safer.  So when I am Commander-in-Chief, I will set a new goal on day one: I will end this war.  Not because politics compels it.  Not because our troops cannot bear the burden—as heavy as it is.  But because it is the right thing to do for our national security, and it will ultimately make us safer.”

            According to Obama’s official website, more than 1,000 American troops have died since the surge began, despite the increased security, and the Iraqi government has not stepped forward to assume responsibility of leading their country.  The website goes on to say that more than 1.75 million soldiers have served in the Iraq War or in Afghanistan, and of those troops, more than 620,000 have completed multiple deployments.  Furthermore, military equipment is wearing out at nine times the normal rate as a result of wear and tear in the harsh environment of Iraq.

            Senator Obama believes the decision to invade Iraq prevented Americans from going after Osama bin Laden and others involved in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  The Iraq War has lasted longer than World War I, World War II and the Civil War with more than 4,000 Americans killed and more than 60,000 wounded.

            Obama’s campaign says the removal of American troops will be responsible and phased with the consultation of military commanders and the Iraqi government.  His website states that military commanders believe combat brigades can be safely redeployed at a pace of one to two brigades per month, meaning all would be removed within 16 months of him taking office.

            However, Senator McCain believes a speedy withdrawal of American troops would only lead to instability in the Middle East, making it less safe for Americans at home.

            “I do not want to keep troops in Iraq a minute longer than necessary to secure our interests there,” McCain said.  “Our goal is an Iraq that can stand on its own as a democratic ally and a responsible force for peace in its neighborhood.  Our goal is an Iraq that no longer needs American troops.  And I believe we can achieve that goal, perhaps sooner than many imagine.  But I do not believe that anyone should make promises as a candidate for President that they cannot keep if elected. To promise a withdrawal of our forces from Iraq, regardless of the calamitous consequences to the Iraqi people, our most vital interests, and the future of the Middle East, is the height of irresponsibility.”

            McCain has been a leading advocate of the troop surge since day one.  According to his official website, sectarian violence has been reduced by 90 percent from June 2007 to March 2008.  Deaths of civilians and coalition forces have also been reduced by 70 percent.

            McCain believes it is imperative that the Iraqi government be able to support themselves before the end of the Iraq War and he believes that is possible through an improved Iraqi economy.  He believes that if there are more jobs for Iraqis, fewer citizens will be interested in joining insurgent groups.  Until that occurs, he is against ending the War in Iraq.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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