Upton breaks with Bush on Iraq surge plan

Published 1:00 pm Thursday, February 15, 2007

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES – Fred Upton, Niles' representative in the U.S. Congress, made clear Wednesday his feelings about President Bush sending more troops to Iraq.
The House of Representatives was debating a two-part non-binding resolution opposing the increase of more than 20,000 troops to Baghdad, and Upton, R-St. Joseph, threw his full support behind H. Con. Res. 63. The first part of the resolution states support for U.S. troops in Iraq, but disapproves the sending of any additional combat troops to the country. The resolution does not call for funding cuts to troops, which Upton said he "strongly opposes" any efforts to do so.
"Let's face it; this is a civil war. It is real anarchy. And in fact the Iraqis don't want us there," Upton said in a speech on the House floor. "Nearly 80 percent of them in Baghdad say that the American troops provoke more violence than they prevent. And these same polls show that Iraqis overwhelming want U.S. troops gone within a year. In fact we know that a majority on both sides – Shea and Sunni – believe that it's ok to kill our troops: so much for being a liberator.
"In other words we're viewed as part of the problem, not the solution. All of us, all of us support our troops, but there are many of us that believe that this surge strategy will fail, and will only prolong the day that the Iraqis will pick up the baton and lead their own government."
As many as a dozen Republican representatives voiced support of the resolution, therefore disapproving of the president's increase in troops to Iraq.
Upton pointed to the apparently successful negotiations earlier in the week with North Korea involving the United States, Russia, South Korea, Japan and China, which resulted in an agreement giving Pyongyang 1 million tons of oil in exchange for the country's disarmament of their nuclear program. Upton said the "diplomatic success" with North Korea should encourage the U.S. to pursue a similar route with Middle Eastern countries in handling the situation in Iraq.
"The six party talks helped … negotiate a settlement that made sense, and the world today is a better and safer place. Diplomacy won again. Now one of our big problems in Iraq is we have not pursued the diplomatic angle like we should have. We haven't seen a diplomatic surge like we ought to," Upton said.
He also shared emailed comments regarding the resolution to oppose a troop increase from troops serving in Iraq. Upton said many responded at length about adding U.S. troops to the conflict.
Upton said, "One of my army captains said this: 'Bringing in more Americans will force us into more confrontational roles. This is not the way to win. More American soldiers on the ground will not win the war; it will only delay the enemy's reaction. If the people do not believe that their government can protect them, they will look for one that they believe will.'"
Upton continued: "These folks are on the ground. They know what's going on. The generals on the ground too said that more U.S. troops would be counter productive and in fact only increase or deepen the threats on our U.S. troops.
"The Baker-Hamilton unanimous bipartisan report labeled the situation as grave and deteriorating," Upton continued, saying it called for regional cooperation and a new direction.
"I'm one that believes that the vote authorizing the war was based on evidence that was flat out wrong," he said. "Let's not continue to ignore the real situation and the mistakes of the past. It is time, it is time for the Iraqis – not the United States – to lead after four years. We need to send the message to our troops that yes we support them, and for this administration a signal for them to pursue a diplomatic surge involving the region. For these reasons I too support the resolution."
Debate on the resolution continues this week in the House, and a vote may come as early as Friday. The Senate may also debate a similar resolution in the coming weeks.
President Bush could submit to Congress as early as next month a bill requesting $93 in additional funding for the war in Iraq.