Kentucky Republicans Generally Back Bush's Plan; Democrats Skeptical


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Republicans in Kentucky's congressional
delegation generally supported President Bush's plan to dispatch an
additional 21,500 U.S. troops to try to quell violence in Iraq.
The state's two House Democrats were more skeptical, expressing
doubts whether the strategy will work.
"Unfortunately it's more of the same," said U.S. Rep. Ben
Chandler, a Democrat from Kentucky's 6th District. "We've had
other instances of troop surges since we've been involved in this
undertaking, and none of them have been successful in the long
term."
Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate's top GOP leader, said
a quick withdrawal of American forces would guarantee "a strategic
failure" in Iraq and across the region.
"The president should be commended for adapting to the reality
on the ground in Iraq, and although the new plan is not without
risk, it provides the best chance for helping the Iraqi people form
a country that can defend itself and is an ally in the war on
terror," McConnell said.
Bush spoke to the nation in a prime-time address Wednesday night
to promote his latest strategy in the Iraq war, which has cost the
lives of more than 3,000 U.S. troops.
U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield said he was "inclined" to support the
troop surge, but said it must be accompanied by a stepped-up role
for the Iraqi military in trying to end the bloodshed.
"I believe the additional troops will perform a significant
role in supporting the Iraqis' efforts to stabilize their
country," said Whitfield, a Republican who represents Kentucky's
1st District, which includes the Fort Campbell Army post. "With
this surge in U.S. troops, I do expect to see a noticeable increase
in the level of Iraqi soldier involvement."
Whitfield said U.S. leaders should "vigilantly observe" the
role of the Iraqi military.
"If we do not see an increase in activity by the Iraqi
military, as promised, then we must reconsider the commitment of
the Iraqi leaders to stabilize their country and ultimately our
commitment in respect to troop strength," he said in a statement.
Whitfield said the troop surge should coincide with U.S. efforts
to improve relations with Syria and Iran to help end the sectarian
violence plaguing Iraq.
U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, a Republican from Kentucky's 4th
District, said for the buildup to be successful, the troops must be
deployed at levels necessary to sustain ground operations long
enough to assure "the mission is complete and the political
outcome is achieved."
"We must succeed in Iraq to ensure stability in the Middle
East," Davis said. "Leaving Iraq a failed state would be
disastrous to our national security interests."
U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers, a Republican representing
Kentucky's 5th District, said if the "short-term" troop boost
gives Iraqis more time to stop the violence, then "we have to
try."
"We don't have much choice," Rogers said. "The stakes for
America are too great. The Iraqis must know they are responsible
for their own security, and now is the time. I am anxious for the
return of America's sons and daughters to our shores."
U.S. Rep. Ron Lewis said he supported the president's plan along
with demands that the Iraqis to assume greater responsibility to
end the violence.
"Indeed, our continued assistance should not be open-ended,"
said Lewis, a Republican from the 2nd District. "The Iraqi people
must demonstrably prove their commitment to protect their nation
from internal and external threats."
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning said he
wasn't sure the troop surge was necessary.
"I would rather see us maintain our current level and get them
out of harm's way and put the Iraqi security force in harm's way,"
Bunning, a Republican, said the day before Bush's speech. "I would
like to see us not leave Iraq, but move some of our troop
deployment to different places in Iraq."
The state delegation's newest member, freshman Democratic Rep.
John Yarmuth, called Bush's plan an "acceleration of an
ill-conceived occupation."
"It is simply unacceptable to ask 20,000 additional soldiers
for the willingness to give their lives when President Bush won't
give them a strategy for success," said Yarmuth, who represents
the 3rd District.
Chandler chided Bush for "mixing the war on terror and what
amounts to a civil war in one country," and said American soldiers
have become a "referee in a police action."
"And at the end of the day, it's up to Iraqis themselves to fix
what is clearly a political problem between tribal elements in this
country much more than it is a war on terror," Chandler said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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