Wrong message

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(HOST) Commentator George Schiavone has been listening to all the recent criticism of President Bush and the current administration – and he’s becoming increasingly concerned by what he’s hearing.

(SCHIAVONE) One of the most talked about subjects nowadays is President Bush and the Iraq war. Instead of supporting the important work of our military, some Americans are calling for immediate withdrawal with statements like, “We can’t win this war.” And, while American soldiers and Iraqi citizens are still risking their lives, I think statements like this are just plain wrong.

We are waging a battle unlike any other in history. It’s being waged in a media environment different from any the military has ever known. We know there’s great pressure to tell a gripping story, and while it’s easy to use the insurgents’ terrorist attacks to support the idea that the Iraq war is a failure, it’s not a complete picture.

Even the loudest opponents of the Iraq war go out of their way to praise the soldiers who serve there. Everyone is for the troops that’s a given. So, if that’s the case, our military – who are fighting and dying in Iraq – deserve more than defeatism. Quitting is not a strategy; it’s an invitation for more attacks and terrorist violence in Iraq and throughout the world – including here at home.

The political process is on schedule. The Iraqis have a constitution they wrote and voted for, and even Senator Lieberman has said, quote, “Almost all of the progress in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will be lost if (the Coalition forces) are withdrawn faster than the Iraqi military is capable of securing the country.” Unquote.

Then there are those who almost pathologically hate George Bush. They are blinded by partisanship and anger grasping at any excuse to chip away at the President. The country has to face some very important issues, and wasting energy by taking out frustrations on Bush is a no-win situation. We’ve got to face reality – the world as it is – not how we wish it were. Premature withdrawal from Iraq would be a disaster. Undermining the Commander-in-
Chief of our troops while we’re still at war will only give aid and comfort to our enemy. Our soldiers are watching, and so are our enemies.

Most Americans don’t want immediate withdrawal because they understand the clear national security risks of such an action. They understand we’d be undermining our democratic values and weakening the security of our country. Retreat in Iraq would send the message to the Iraqi people and others throughout the region that they can’t count on us to keep our promises. What’s needed is resolve not retreat. We should focus on a strategy for success – not on the quickest way to get out.

I’m George Schiavone of Shelburne.

George Schiavone is a recently retired Republican legislator. During his 13 years in the Vermont House, he represented portions of Shelburne, Williston and St. George.

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