February 16, 2007
At odds over troop surge
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON Reps. Ralph Regula and Zack Space staked out opposing
positions on the Iraq war Thursday, with Space declaring his
opposition to sending more troops to Iraq and Regula supporting
the buildup as long as it is coupled with what he called a
“surge in diplomacy.”
The two Ohio lawmakers, who illustrate the partisan divide over
President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq, are among
dozens who have taken to the floor this week to debate an
anti-surge resolution the House will vote on today.
SPACE AND REGULA
Although Space has criticized the war in the past and Regula has
supported it, their comments Thursday offered additional insight
into their views on how to bring U.S. involvement in the almost
four-yearlong conflict to an end.
Space, D-Dover, contended that Bush has failed to lay out a plan
of success for the 21,500 additional troops being sent to the
“The crisis that Iraq has become will not be resolved merely
with more, more, more,” he said. “Without a clear plan and a
clear objective, a troop increase will not help our Iraq policy.
In fact it will only deepen the disaster that Iraq has become,”
Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, whose turn on the floor came an
hour later, countered that the troops are needed.
“Denying additional troops as requested by our military
leadership could put our troops that are there at greater risk
and delay their return to their loved ones,” he said.
HOUSE VOTES TODAY
The Democratic-authored resolution the House will vote on
expresses support for the roughly 130,000 troops currently in
Iraq while disapproving of the plan to send additional troops
Bush has indicated he will proceed with the deployment even if
the nonbinding resolution is passed in the Democratic-controlled
House as expected.
The president, who announced the surge last month, said the
additional troops will help Iraqis secure and hold violent areas
of the nation in order to create the conditions for stability
Both lawmakers — Regula, who has served since 1973, and Space,
who is a freshman — acknowledged they have heard from
constituents who are both for and against the troop increase.
Regula said some people in his district want the troops home
immediately while others “want us to remain there so we don’t
have to fight the terrorists on our own soil.”
“What I do know is that the challenges in Iraq are complex and
the consequences of immediate withdrawal would be devastating,”
THOUGHTS ON TROOPS
Space, who won election in a Republican-leaning district after
his predecessor, Republican Bob Ney, pleaded guilty in a bribery
scandal, worried that his remarks could be misconstrued as not
supporting the troops.
“Let there be no mistake,” he said. “I have at the heart of my
motivation for these remarks a sincere appreciation for the
sacrifice of our brothers and sisters who have been dispatched
to fight this war.”
Space added that his admiration for the troops motivated his
decision to “express my dissatisfaction with the president’s
plan to subject more of them to the ravages of war.”
While Regula continues to support Bush’s policy in Iraq, he
issued a strong call for more diplomacy in the region and made
repeated references to the diplomatic emphasis favored in the
bipartisan Iraq Study Group report.
“Given the ability of Iran and the Syrians to influence events
within Iraq, the United States should try to engage them
constructively,” he said.
Regula said a successful diplomatic initiative would marginalize
extremists and terrorists, and reinforce efforts to reconcile
feuding Sunni and Shia Muslims in Iraq.
He said there have been indications the administration has
intensified its diplomatic efforts.
“I think Condoleezza Rice very quietly is really working the
territory,” he said of the secretary of state.
Space noted that 15 “young men” from the 18th District, which he
represents, are among the more than 3,000 American troops who
have lost their lives in the Iraq war.
“I cannot support a troop surge without real answers as to how
it will bring success in Iraq,” he added. “I cannot support
escalation without regard to diplomacy, without regard to the
political realities of the region and without regard to the
underlying dynamics of the conflict.”