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Opinions are strong on Iraq War

July 14, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

TRI-STATE-Area residents seem to favor an early withdrawal of troops from Iraq, according to an informal survey conducted Friday by The Herald-Mail.

A majority of Tri-State-area residents surveyed said they agree with a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday that would bring home most combat troops from Iraq by April 1, 2008.

"It's time to get out," said Diane Hoffman, 37, of Hagerstown. "We'll probably leave a mess, but we've had enough time to get it right and we haven't done that."

Many local residents said they see no progress in Iraq, and are skeptical that a continued military presence would improve the situation.

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"If things could have gotten better, they would have by now," said Craig Gerhart, 59, of Hagerstown.

Gerhart said he does not think the Bush administration has been honest about the war.

"We haven't heard anything of substance," Gerhart said. "Just rhetoric and fancy words."

Bob Royal, 55, of Hagerstown, said he thinks the administration went to war for the wrong reasons and has not since formulated a plan for success in the country.

"I have sympathy for the fight against terrorism, but I'm highly skeptical that that's why we're in Iraq. We need to leave," said Royal, a pastor at Zion Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ, as he walked around the lake at City Park in Hagerstown.

While most residents said they supported an early withdrawal, some were firmly against the House bill, which was opposed by all three local U.S. representatives.

"We need to stay until the job is done," said Theresa Myers, 46, of Smithsburg. Myers argued that leaving Iraq now would make the United States more vulnerable to future terrorist attacks.

Jeff Suders, 52, of Martinsburg, W.Va., agreed.

"We should send more troops over there," Suders said. "Those people are crazy and need to be taken care of."

Aaron Mitchell, 33, of Smithsburg, argued that the bill, which was passed largely along party lines, was nothing more than a political maneuver.

"The Democrats keep trying to push us out early, but the work isn't done," Mitchell said. "The Iraqis still can't defend themselves."

Whether they were for or against it, most residents had firm opinions on the bill. But some said the situation has gotten too complicated for an easy solution.

Dan Johnston, 54, of Chambersburg, Pa., said progress in Iraq will be impossible without cooperation from the Iraqi government. He said he is not convinced the country's government wants to have a democracy.

"I would like to see us out of there, but it's a quagmire," he said.

H.R. DeChalus, 70, of Hagerstown, agreed.

"I'm not sure the government over there is working with us," DeChalus said.

DeChalus said religious divisions in Iraq may prove impossible for the United States military to overcome.

"A withdrawal is possible, but we may be biting off more than we can chew over there," DeChalus said.

How they voted

Here's how local U.S. representatives voted on a House bill that would bring home most combat troops from Iraq by April 1, 2008. The bill passed by a vote of 223-201, with eight representatives not voting.

·Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md. - no

·Bill Shuster, R-Pa. - no

·Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. - no

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