Douglas Opposes Troop Surge

When asked what would relieve his frustration towards the War in Iraq, Republican Gov. Jim Douglas exclaimed, “Progress in Iraq!”Douglas’ frustration was in response to the address that President Bush gave to the nation on Wednesday, Jan. 10. The address announced a new strategy that has been developedfor Iraq, which includes the call for 21,500 troops to be sent overseas, primarily to stabilize neighborhoods in Baghdad.The president hopes that the commitment of more troops in Baghdad will assist in shifting responsibility off American shoulders and into the hands of the Iraqi government,and to achieve stability in the country.Douglas said he is not persuaded that the proposed add tion of troops is a step in the right direction.”I said more than a year ago that I think we have to find a way to extricate ourselves from our involvement there. Instinctively it doesn’t seem that a surge in force strength will move towards that goal. If more troops are committed, I hope I’m wrong,” Douglas said.Bush said in his address that, “to step back now would force a collapse in the Iraqi government…Such a scenario would result in our troops being forced to stay in Iraq even longer.”He also said that if we increase our support now, American troops would be able to start coming troops home sooner.”Many Americans, including a lot of Vermonters, have served honorably…and have made many tremendous contributions to help the Iraqi people,” Douglas said. The president mentioned the “strong commitment” that the Iraqi government has made to deploying more Iraqi army and national police brigades in Baghdad. Douglas is not opposed to this part of the plan.”Their armed forces and police agencies need to assume responsibility for security, I think that is the most important objective now,” Douglas said. “I was over there last spring and saw some of the police training activities at a facility outside Baghdad. That has to be accelerated so that [the Iraqi government] can assumemore responsibility.”Although openly against the new strategy to send more troops, Douglas feels that there have already been victories in Iraq.”Some success has occurred already. The Iraqi people adopted a constitution, they elected a parliament in free and open elections, they have a government that’s been formed with multiple parties-so those are important steps towards self-governance and freedom, but there needs to be some stability in the country,” he said. Douglas agrees with the end suggested in the new strategy, but feels that the means (sending more troops) are not justified – or at least not the right path to take.”More security and stability, reduction in the insurgency and the sectarian violence. I think that those are the objectives that everyone would like to see reached,” he said.Douglas said that his public opposition to the new strategy does not conflict with his Republican Party affiliation.”A number of congressional Republicans have expressed their opposition to it,” he said. “One issue certainly doesn’t affect an overall political affiliation.”