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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Sebelius says Iraq exit strategy needed

April 13, 2007

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— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday said she supports efforts in Congress to try to bring U.S. soldiers home from the war in Iraq.

"I definitely think that there needs to be a discussion about what our exit strategy is and when we implement that exit strategy," Sebelius said.

As governor, she said, one of her concerns is that increased commitments of the Kansas National Guard and equipment in the war was putting Kansas residents at risk.

"Our ability to respond in an effective manner to floods, tornadoes, hailstorms, moving our citizens to safety and security, is really compromised," she said. "Clearly it's a huge homeland security concern," she said.

Approximately 1,000 Kansas National Guard soldiers and airmen are deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and the U.S.-Mexico border.

Democrats in Congress are pushing for a timeline to withdraw soldiers from Iraq, a measure that President Bush has promised to veto.

Bush is seeking to increase troop levels by another 28,000 soldiers by June, which will bring the total in Iraq to more than 170,000.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon ordered that soldiers assigned to Iraq will serve there for 15 months instead of the current 12 months.

The change will not affect National Guard and reserve soldiers who will continue to deploy for 12 months.

Republicans in the Kansas congressional delegation have stuck with Bush in opposing a timeline to bring troops back.

"Despite having concerns about the way the war has been conducted, I cannot support something I believe will undermine our soldiers and embolden our enemies," said U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Hays.

But Sebelius, a Democrat, said, "The sort of never-ending story with additional troops being sent on a regular basis, additional guardsmen and women, additional equipment, does not seem to be working very well."

U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Topeka, said after the Pentagon's announcement of extended tours, "my phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from soldiers' families. Caller after caller is concerned that their loved ones must now spend three more long months overseas and in harm's way."

Sebelius' comments came after she signed into law a bill that seeks to restrict military funeral protests, which was prompted by the actions of the Rev. Fred Phelps, who has protested nationwide at the funerals of soldiers killed in combat.

In response to reporters' questions about the war, Sebelius said, "I think the Congress is trying to insert themselves into this discussion and take a legal role that I think they have."

Boyda, whose district includes west Lawrence and who voted for the timeline for withdrawal, agreed.

"No matter what you believed about America's decision to go to war in Iraq, our country does not have the readiness or the troop strength to sustain combat without end. The current course is simply unsustainable. Now, in order to preserve our strategic readiness, we need to hold a real national discussion on how to responsibly redeploy our forces," she said.

Comments

Frank Smith 7 years, 8 months ago

We never should have gotten into this illegal invasion and occupation in the first place. The entire Kansas delegation voted for it, if memory serves, and should all be sacked, not just Ryun. It's cost the country the deaths of 3,300 young men and women and the toll throughout Kansas is disproproportionately high. There are more and more funerals here, not just of Ft. Riley soldiers, but in rural communities throughout the state as more Guardsmen are slaughtered. I'm guessing that three quarters of a million Iraqis have died by now, and another million have left as refugees.

GQ inteviewed Senator Chuck Hagel: Q. Why do you oppose the "surge"?

A. For almost four years, this administration has been saying, "Just give us another six months. Give us more time. The Iraqis need more help. We need more troops. We need more money." I am not willing to sacrifice more young men and women for a policy that isn't working.

GQ. What do you think the real effect of the "surge" would be?

More American lives lost. Billions of dollars going into this hole. It will erode our standing in the Middle East and the world. It will destroy our force structure. It will divide this country in a bitter way not seen since Vietnam. And what do we get in return? The administration takes great pride in saying, "It's now a sovereign nation. They're in charge of their own affairs." It's completely untrue, but they say it anyway.

GQ. What would it take to secure Baghdad?

It's not ours to secure. We have never understood that! We have framed this in a way that never made sense: "Win or lose in Iraq." Wait a minute! There is no win or loss for us. The Iraqis will determine how this turns out. We can help them with our blood and our treasure and our standing, but in the end they have to deal with the sectarian problems. That is what's consuming that country. It's not Al Qaeda. It's not the terrorists. That's not the main problem over there. It's a civil war!

captain_poindexter 7 years, 8 months ago

WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE THAT THE KANSAS NATIONAL GUARD CANNOT RESPOND TO KANSAS DISASTERS????

SEBELIUS KEEPS SAYING THIS - BUT THE MEDIA NEVER ACTUALLY ASKS HER WHETHER IN THE LAST 2 YEARS, WITH AREAS OF KANSAS RECEIVING OVER 2 FEET OF SNOW AT ONE TIME, THE NATIONAL GUARD HAS OR HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO RESPOND.

Godot 7 years, 8 months ago

I hope Sebelius and the Dems are planning to have the military destroy all the infrastructure that the US has built in Iraq as they "pull out." How convenient for Al Qaeda that we spent all that time and money and ingenuity to rebuild the country that we are about to turn over to them.

Porter 7 years, 8 months ago

If we've done all that much to rebuild the country, where are the pictures?? I want to see some results from our sacrifices. Godot, you talk about all this infrastructure, but the only proof we've seen is McCain taking a quiet stroll through a Baghdad market (for what THAT was worth). Seriously, if progress has been made, why isn't Tony Snow showing us the video??

"How convenient for Al Qaeda that we spent all that time and money and ingenuity to rebuild the country that we are about to turn over to them." Indeed. The more we build there, the more that they're going to destroy. So why keep doing it?

I still don't understand the logic that our occupation of Iraq is going to somehow stop Al Qaeda from recruiting and rebuilding. James Bakker himself told us all that our occupation is creating terrorists, not deterring them.

Godot 7 years, 8 months ago

Well, considering that bin Laden's family is in the construction business, we would be doing him a favor if, before we leave, we blow up everything we have built since 2003:

Blow up the hospitals, schools, telecommunications networks, military installations, the whole nine yards. Certainly do not leave them for Al Qaeda to use. Let them build their own.

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