Ensure troops’ safety by bringing them back home

Ensure troops' safety by bringing them back home
It's become evident to any ardent viewer of C-Span that Congress can't seem to make any progress when it comes to Iraq.

On Feb. 6, Republican senators spent the day trying to counter the idea that they had been obstructionists in impeding the debate concerning President Bush's idea to send a surge of additional troops to the war-torn country.

The label obstructionist is one Republicans have successfully hung on Democrats for years, and they do not appreciate the role reversal. They said their main goal had been to ensure that the Senate could guarantee in a separate resolution that Congress would not endanger forces in the field by restricting spending in the future.

Democrats replied during debate on the floor that they have always supported U.S. troops. And as President Bush is preparing to send an additional 21,000 U.S. soldiers, along with, it's just been revealed, several thousand more in support staff to try to quell the Baghdad bloodshed, a number of Democrats are revealing that they've had enough.

We believe that one's party affiliation no longer matters as this debate continues. Our policy in Iraq boils down to simply this: What is the best action we can take to protect U.S. troops?

The answer to that question is becoming glaringly apparent. If we truly care about the members of our military who are currently in harm's way, there's only one way to guarantee their well-being.

It's time to bring them home.

Consider this: More American troops were killed in combat in Iraq over the past four months – at least 334 through Jan. 31 – than in any comparable stretch since the war began, according to an Associated Press analysis of casualty records.

The reason is that U.S. soldiers and Marines are fighting more battles in the streets of Baghdad, and other cities. The top killer is the roadside bomb, but hostile forces also have had more success lately shooting down U.S. helicopters.

It's time to remember the words of acclaimed journalist and columnist Molly Ivins. Many here in South Dakota may simply brush her opinions aside because the true blue Texan wasn't afraid to be labeled a liberal, especially during the rocky times our nation has been facing lately.

Ivins, dearly loved and admired by many, hated and feared by many, died of cancer in her Texas home on Jan. 31.

"The walls of ignorance and prejudice and cruelty, which she railed against valiantly all her public life, have not fallen, but their truculence to do so does not speak against her determination to make them collapse," Maya Angelo opined in the Washington Post Feb. 2.

"Weeks before she died, she launched what she called ?an old-fashioned newspaper crusade' against President Bush's announcement that he was going to send more troops to Iraq," Angelo continued.

Ivins wrote, "We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. Every single day every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. We need people in the streets banging pots and pans and demanding, ?Stop it now!' "

Perhaps you don't have a loved one serving or working in Iraq. You've convinced yourself that it's really nothing for you be concerned about.

Think again. We've already paid a dear price, with over 3,100 Americans killed, and an additional 23,400 wounded.

At the same time, the White House is asking for a $2.9 trillion budget that hikes the Pentagon budget by $50 billion, but cuts heating subsidies for the poor and medical research.

South Dakota can't escape the cuts. South Dakota's Lewis and Clark water system was allocated $15 million in President Bush's budget blueprint released Monday, an amount both Sen. John Thune, a Republican, and Rep. Stephanie Herseth, a Democrat, say is inadequate.

Bush also recommends $29 million for western South Dakota's Mni Wiconi water system. Last year the president proposed $32 million. As he has in past years, Bush recommended no funding for the Perkins water system in South Dakota. The president also proposed zeroing out Perkins in the 2006 budget year, but Congress appropriated slightly less than $1 million for it.

The president's 2008 budget cuts money available under the popular federal COPS program, which puts more police officers on streets, from $558 million to $32 million.

Rural health outreach and flexibility grants would also be eliminated. Both grant programs are designed to encourage greater access to health care in rural areas.

If the war in Iraq wasn't siphoning away billions of dollars from the federal treasury each year, do you think this would be happening?

The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of editor David Lias. You may contact him at david.lias@plaintalk.net

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