June 16, 2019

Thoughts from Maine’s political leaders

Gov. John Baldacci (D)

It’s been five years since this war began; we should take time to remember and thank Maine’s soldiers and their families. They have put their lives on hold and in some cases paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend this country. Over 2,000 Maine soldiers have been deployed – and their families have been affected in many ways. We also must remember the nearly three dozen soldiers who we have lost in the last five years. The people of Maine honor their sacrifice and dedication to service.”

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R)

We have nothing but inexpressible gratitude for the remarkable servicemen and women of our armed forces who are truly magnificent and unparalleled. They courageously place their lives at risk every day in heroic service to our nation at home and worldwide, and they remain at the forefront of our thoughts, prayers and concerns. Because of them, there have clearly been some positive developments recently in Iraq – sectarian violence is down and al Qaida in Iraq is being driven from Anbar Province. However, despite the improved security situation, the Iraqi government has still, five years after combat operations began, failed to demonstrate either the will or the capacity to sufficiently enact and implement the measures necessary for national reconciliation. … Our troops are clearly doing their job as reflected in the lower levels of violence, yet we must never forget that violence still persists as exemplified by the loss of eight brave American soldiers yesterday [Monday] in Iraq. But even as these remarkable heroes continue to do their jobs, it again has not alleviated the root causes of the violence. That’s the question, what is the end point for our operations as they currently stand, and when do we leverage a change in our mission to prompt the Iraqi government to implement all of the steps necessary for political reconciliation? We are still conducting stability operations – that cannot go on indefinitely – we have to transition to a point where the Iraqis are stabilizing themselves, and that can’t and won’t happen as long as we are doing it for them.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R)

All Americans should be grateful for the courage, dedication, and professionalism of our troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as for the sacrifices of their families. Our troops have performed magnificently, and it is time for the Iraqis to step up to the plate and take more responsibility for the security of their country. I have long maintained that our nation needs a new direction in Iraq. Since last year, Sen. Ben Nelson [D-Neb.] and I have advocated a bipartisan plan that would mandate an immediate change in the American mission in Iraq. By shifting the mission of our troops away from the lead combat role, our plan would allow for a significant draw-down of our troops while avoiding the catastrophic consequences of a precipitous withdrawal. Recent votes in the Senate indicate growing support for a change in the mission of our troops, similar to what Sen. Nelson and I have advocated. As we seek to chart a new course, it is my hope that leaders in both the House and Senate will put aside partisan politics and adopt bipartisan proposals to guide our policy in Iraq.”

Rep. Mike Michaud (D)

For the past five years, our military personnel have served with courage and honor. Unfortunately, the civilian leadership that took our country to war misled us and failed to plan for what would happen after the fall of the Hussein regime. It is clear that the problems in Iraq will not be solved with U.S. military strength alone, and the continuing strain on our military undermines our military readiness and our ability to react to threats in other parts of the world. Almost 4,000 American lives have been lost in Iraq. Many more have been wounded physically and mentally. We must provide the care and services that these individuals need to heal. This has been something that I have devoted myself to addressing. Great strides have been made over the last couple of years, but there is more that still needs to be done. I will continue to advocate strongly for a new policy on Iraq that includes redeploying our troops, drawing down our numbers, and focusing on training the Iraq Security Forces and empowering Iraqis. I will also continue to fight for whatever health care and assistance our veterans need to live the American dream that they gave so much to defend.”

Rep. Tom Allen (D)

As we near the 5th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war, we also approach one ominous benchmark and have recently surpassed another. With the eight Americans killed yesterday [Monday], total U.S. Armed Forces deaths in Iraq are nearing 4,000 at 3,983. And in the last few weeks, the direct cost to taxpayers so far of the war surmounted half a trillion dollars. If we continue in the direction that President Bush has set, we are on course to spend at least another half a trillion dollars and lose many more of our courageous military men and women. I voted against the 2002 resolution authorizing the war in Iraq and was a leader of the effort in the House to require the president to seek support from the U.N. and a broad coalition of allies before attacking Iraq. I have been a consistent and outspoken critic of the president’s failed Iraq policies. In early 2006, I called for beginning to bring American forces home from Iraq with the goal of having them all out of Iraq by the end of 2007. Unfortunately, the president and his allies in Congress blocked all efforts to end the war in 2007. I believe that the only way to change direction in Iraq is for Congress to set a firm, responsible deadline for bringing all American forces home. I will continue to oppose funding for the war in Iraq that does not clearly include a responsible end to America’s involvement in that country’s ongoing religious civil war.”

Quotes collected by Vicki Ekstrom, Boston University Washington News Service, March 12, 2008.

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