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Don't toss out Bartlett now

November 02, 2008|By JONATHAN BURRS

While politicians wrap up final campaign efforts days before the election and voters prepare to head to polls to elect the nation's future leaders; a mismanaged war in Afghanistan and a premature, poorly planned war in Iraq without a viable exit strategy continue to take negative tolls on the economy, as well as families in the U.S., Iraq and Afghanistan.

Why did the U.S. invade Iraq anyway? Was it weapons of mass destruction? Was it to free the Iraqi people? How will the U.S. end the war in Iraq? If the surge worked, why was there an increased number of people being hospitalized from attacks in areas where surge troops were not deployed? Is there such a thing as "winning" in Iraq after there has been so much loss?

More than five years and hundreds of billions of dollars later, I find myself asking the same questions as I did five years ago as well as asking new questions that politicians and military leaders seem unable to satisfactorily answer. Sure I read the various news sources; I listen to reports presented to Congress, I have seen the way information is presented to the public, providing a fairytale view of operations in the war theater and still I ask: Do our elected leaders and those aspiring for public office not only understand the core problems facing the U.S. military, but also have an achievable plan of resolution in Iraq and Afghanistan?

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In the Herald- Mail article of Oct. 27, "Md. 6th District congressional candidates discuss views on Iraq War," Republican Congressman Roscoe Barlett, Jennifer Dougherty and Gary Hoover, Sr. representing the Democratic and Libertarian parties respectively, all agreed the U.S. has met benchmarks for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Each expressed some of their views on the war, including political finger-pointing and false accounts of Iraqi history by Bartlett's two challengers, in attempts to strike a chord with voters fed up with the flawed policies of a Republican administration.

The only thing missing was logical debate on plausible strategies that could bring the U.S. closer to resolving the war in Iraq!

Imagine that - a plausible strategy for resolution. How dare I suggest such a thing; after all, the 2008 budget for the wars cost taxpayers approximately $200 billion and is on par for the same in 2009. What's another $200 billion in 2009 on top of the recent congressional $700 billion Wall Street bailout?

The unfortunate reality for Americans is this - the people running the federal government have no reasonable strategy in Iraq, mainly because they still don't understand the problem. It is impossible to fix a problem such as the debacle in Iraq without a clear understanding of the dilemma.

For example, Dougherty proclaims Iraq already has a constitution, an elected government, a prime minister and a police force, plus a $79 billion surplus. Yet, the U.S. is spending billions of dollars on a war that has killed thousands of Americans, she said.

"The idea that we are going to stay and patrol a centuries-old civil war is illogical to me," Dougherty said.

So, candidate Dougherty, please enlighten voters in Maryland's 6th District on something we didn't already know and maybe offer a logical well thought out resolution strategy. Is this too much to ask?

Maybe so. I mean, really, the idea the U.S. military is "patrolling a centuries-old civil war" is a bit much. This would mean Iraqis were engaged in civil war when the U.S. first invaded, which clearly was not the case.

Ending on a serious point, of the three congressional candidates, in my opinion Rep. Bartlett is the strongest and remains the only practical people's choice.

While it is my belief that change is good, I think it would be nave and irresponsible for Americans to vote from office knowledgeable and wise leaders like Bartlett primarily because of national unrest with the Bush administration and the Republican Party in general.

At some point those who boast of change must show a firm knowledge and understanding of the problems facing America and further express how they intend to bring about the transformation the country needs. Bartlett might not have all the answers but at least he's honest and conservative about the way he approaches issues. A little conservation in today's economic turmoil can only help matters.

While I might not agree with Bartlett on several issues, I believe his heart is pure and intentions well placed. He represents the 6th District with honesty, integrity, and honor and has never resorted to all the low-down political tactics and trickery commonly used by other campaigns. It is true America needs change which is why I support Sen. Barack Obama. America also needs wise, honest, sincere and knowledgeable leadership, which is why I support Congressman Roscoe Bartlett.

Jonathan R. Burrs is a Hagerstown-area resident who writes for

The Herald-Mail.

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