Local leaders split on Bushs recent Iraq War decision

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 20, 2007

County Commissioner Freddie Armstead&8217;s son, Quinton Fundison, is on his third deployment to Iraq. Armstead said he feels there is no reason for his son and other men and women to be in Iraq.

Armstead said, not only as a father to a soldier stationed in Iraq but also as a political leader, he feels the war in Iraq has been unsuccessful. &8220;To no avail, it (the Iraq war) is not working,&8221; he said.

Armstead said he doesn&8217;t clearly understand why his son and other troops are in Iraq, but said his son took an oath to his country he will uphold.

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While Demopolis City Councilman Melvin Yelverton said he is sympathetic to those fighting the war and understands the differences in opinions about the war, he said he supports the decisions made by President Bush.

Yelverton described himself as a &8220;common worker&8221; and said he did not have all the answers, but he did have confidence in the government&8217;s ability to make appropriate decisions.

Yelverton said he feels President Bush inherited the war situation.

President Bush announced the gradual reduction in U.S. forces in Iraq last week. Bush has firmly rejected calls to end the war, saying the insurgents who threaten Iraq&8217;s future are a danger to U.S. national security. American troops must stay in the battle, Bush said, and more than 130,000 will remain after the newly ordered withdrawals are completed in July.

Bush said 5,700 U.S. forces would be home by Christmas and that four brigades &8212; at least 21,500 troops &8212; would return by July, along with an undetermined number of support forces. Now at its highest level of the war, the U.S. troop strength stands at 168,000.

Armstead said he disagreed with the President&8217;s tactics in his address.

City Councilman Woody Collins said while he, like Yelverton, doesn&8217;t have the answers to the war, he does think President Bush&8217;s consistency should be noted.

Collins said he feels there are many Americans who believe they know the answer regarding the war in Iraq. However, he said they are not informed of everything about the war, notingt some amount of secrecy is required when it comes to war.

While many Americans echo Collins&8217; support of the government&8217;s administration, there are also many people who feel decisions were hastily made regarding the war in Iraq and U.S. troops.

In the local community, many clergy are also wondering about the effectiveness of continuing to uphold a military presence in the region.

The Rev. Terry Gosa of Eastern Star Baptist Church in Demopolis said he believes there is a time for both fighting and peace, but he is not sure now is the time for fighting.

Often, people judge wars in terms of winning or losing. When asked what he would consider a win for the United States, Gosa said it would be when Iraq was self-governing and the United States had limited presence in the country.

Father Larry Shinnick of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Demopolis said he knows the Pope counseled President Bush not to go to war.

In the end, Shinnick said, Congress voted to fund the war and the country must abide by the administration&8217;s decision.

Ken Trulle, who was with the Army National Guard for 31 years and also served in the Navy and Air Force, held a similar sentiment with Shinnick, although his charge was with respecting the military&8217;s abilities.

Trulle also brought up the point that many people in the country were not necessarily prepared for such an extended stay in the region. He said after the initial attacks and going in and physically removing symbols of Saddam Hussein&8217;s regime, there was not much consideration for the aftermath.

This does not mean, however, he thinks the United States should abandon the cause.

Trulle said he watches the news everyday and tries to keep current with the situation.

This is not the case with all veterans, however.

Paul Gresham, a WWII veteran, said he doesn&8217;t like to read or watch too much news about the situation in Iraq because it brings up too many memories.

Gresham said one of the biggest problems with the war in Iraq is troops don&8217;t know the enemy they are fighting. Gresham also remembers when soldiers could rest without the fear of overnight attacks, but now soldiers can be in danger at all hours of the day.

When asked about Bush&8217;s recent decision to uphold troop presence, Gresham said he couldn&8217;t see the military continuing to sustain their presence for much longer.

He also disagrees with President Bush&8217;s rationale for the decision to go to war.

In the long term, Gresham said, he thinks the decision could be a benefit for the country.