Published on Thursday, June 23, 2005 by the Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)
Bringing Troops Home a Nonpartisan Idea
by John Nichols
U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, was the first member of Wisconsin's congressional delegation to sign on as a co-sponsor of a new bipartisan proposal to bring the troops home from Iraq. On Tuesday, Moore added her name to "Withdrawal of United States Armed Forces From Iraq Resolution of 2005 - Homeward Bound" legislation, which was introduced last week and is likely to become the primary vehicle for expression of anti-war sentiment in Congress.
No doubt, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, who has been the most consistent opponent of the war in the Wisconsin delegation, will sign on soon to the bill that was crafted by U.S. Reps. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii; Walter Jones Jr., R-N.C.; Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio; Ron Paul, R-Texas; Marty Meehan, D-Mass.; Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif.; and Barbara Lee, D-Calif.
U.S. Rep. David Obey, D-Wausau, who has been a frequent and often fiery critic of the Bush administration's handling of the war, is another likely co-sponsor.
But the rest of the delegation will probably need a push.
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, voted in favor of authorizing the administration to send troops to Iraq but later co-authored a letter demanding that the president explain why the invasion and occupation of that country were necessary. The president never responded and, since the beginning of the war in March 2003, Kind has been a champion fence-straddler.
Kind's western Wisconsin district has seen a great deal of anti-war agitation, however. With the right push from his constituents, there is good reason to believe that a campaign to get the congressman to co-sponsor the Homeward Bound legislation, which demands that the Bush administration develop and implement a plan for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, would be successful.
Wisconsinites who live in the districts of the state's Republican representatives should also be pushing their members to get behind this bill. A Republican from a neighboring state, U.S. Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, just became a co-sponsor. Leach is a moderate, like Fond du Lac's Tom Petri. But Walter Jones Jr., the most outspoken Republican backer of the measure, is an old-school conservative, so it makes sense for Wisconsinites to push this state's conservative congressmen, Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls; Paul Ryan, R-Janesville; and Mark Green, R-Green Bay.
A good place to start the lobbying effort would be by sharing with Wisconsin's conservative congressmen a copy of the letter Jones wrote to his North Carolina constituents last week. That letter reads in part:
"No one is prouder of our military men and women in Iraq, or more grateful for their service and sacrifice, than I. They deposed one of the most ruthless tyrants in human history. They have trained, and continue to train, thousands of Iraqis in the skills necessary to defend their country against insurgents. They allowed Iraqis to freely cast their ballots in the country's first democratic election in decades. And because of them, Iraq is on track to establish a new Constitution in October of this year, and to elect a permanent government in December.
"As Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said last week: 'This insurgency is not going to be settled ... through military options or military operations. It's going to be settled in the political process.' With that political process now reaching its maturity, and with the number of trained Iraqi security forces increasing daily, it is perfectly reasonable for the American military presence in Iraq to, at some point, begin to decrease.
"Conservatives across the spectrum from Robert Novak to Patrick Buchanan to the godfather of modern conservatism, William F. Buckley, have come to a similar conclusion. In fact, on May 6 Buckley wrote: 'The day has to come, and the advent of that day has to be heralded, when we say that our part of the job is done as well as it can be done. ... It is an Iraqi responsibility to move on to wherever Iraq intends to go.'
"Clearly, we are giving Iraqis every reasonable chance for a democracy, but at some time in the near future, the ultimate fate of Iraq will, and should, rest in the hands of the Iraqis. We will continue to support them in their efforts, but we cannot forever be depended upon as the primary defense force in Iraq, nor can we compromise the ability of our armed forces to adequately respond to the other emerging threats that endanger America."
Those sensible sentiments ought to be affirmed by every member of the Wisconsin congressional delegation, no matter what their partisan or ideological affiliations.
© 2005 Capital Times