Sanders and Tarrant agree troops should leave Iraq

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(Host) Independent U.S. Senate candidate Bernie Sanders and Republican candidate Rich Tarrant disagree on nearly every issue in their campaign. But they do have very similar viewpoints concerning the war in Iraq.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports

(Kinzel) In the past few weeks, a number of Republican congressional candidates across the country have begun to question President Bush’s policies in Iraq. Their Democratic opponents charge that this last minute conversion is little more that a last ditch effort to win votes before the November election.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rich Tarrant has been clear about his views on the war since the start of his campaign. During this time he’s been consistently critical of the Bush Administration.

Tarrant isn’t interested in setting a public timetable to withdraw U.S. troops. He wants them out now:

(Tarrant) “It’s time for us to pull our troops of harm’s redeploy back to Kuwait to the desert or some such place out of harm’s way. I think it’s a mistake to leave our troops there until 2010, or even 2009 or 08 or 07. I think the sooner the better. We have to get out of there.”

(Kinzel) Bernie Sanders voted against the Iraqi War Resolution in 2002. He says it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq in the winter of 2003 and he thinks it’s a mistake to keep them there now:

(Sanders) “There was a recent study that showed that over 60% of the people in Iraq now believe and now support attacks against American troops. That is not the kind of climate in which we should remain. So my view is, and has been for a while, that the president should demand from the military a mechanism by which we can bring our troops home as soon as possible. And by that I mean almost all of our troops leaving Iraq within the next year.”

(Kinzel) The Bush Administration argues that withdrawing troops too quickly will cause Iraq to descend into a civil war. Both Tarrant and Sanders say that’s a situation that’s already happened:

(Tarrant) “Hello it is a civil war. They’re killing each other. What else can you call this thing? And it’s not like we should be surprised if you read history. It’s virtually inevitable. It is a civil war.”

(Sanders) “Gee whiz, I wonder what we have right now?

(Kinzel) Sanders says he’s concerned that the war in Iraq has weakened U.S. diplomatic relations with many other key countries. He says this situation could make it difficult to deal with real threats to national security such as efforts by North Korea to develop a nuclear weapon.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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