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Should the U.S. Withdraw Its Troops From Iraq?

Five years after the war began, how the U.S. should proceed in Iraq is a major issue in the election

"The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war," President John F. Kennedy told the graduating class of American University in June 1963.

And while Kennedy made it clear that the U.S. would always be prepared to go to war if it had to, he added, "We shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just." Kennedy's words that day summarized decades of American foreign policy. We would never be the aggressor; instead, the U.S. would be the world's most aggressive advocate for peace.

All that changed in 2003 when President Bush unnecessarily launched the disastrous war in Iraq.

The war has already taken far too many American and Iraqi lives, it has cost far too much in money and the reputation of the United States, and it has drained far too much from the capability of our military.

Americans are demanding that we close this sad chapter in our nation's history. Only when we finally end this war will we be able to refocus on fighting the real war on terror and restoring our reputation in the world. We will also need to rebuild our military, which has been badly overstretched by the demands of the Iraq war.

As a young person, I was greatly inspired by President Kennedy. He understood the cost of war, and he used America's power to reduce conflict and seek peace. America needs that type of leadership in the White House again. For the sake of our military readiness, and for the sake of our standing in the world, we must end the war in Iraq.

Representative Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House, Democrat of California

In January 2007, as part of what was known as the "surge," the U.S. sent additional forces to Iraq and began implementing a new strategy aimed at targeting insurgents and preparing Iraqi forces to take on more of the burden of stabilizing their own country. Since then, we have seen significant progress in Iraq.

American counterinsurgency is working all across Iraq, with violence at its lowest level since the insurgency began. More Iraqis of all ethnic and religious groups are participating in their government, with dialogue between these groups taking place through political debate instead of violence.

I would like to see all of our brave soldiers return home safely, but withdrawing our troops now that we're finally on the right track would be disastrous.

If we leave Iraq before the job is done, the result will be chaos across the Middle East, starting with Iran, whose Shiite rulers would try to dominate the entire region.

The Kurdish people in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey might try to form their own country. There could be additional attacks on Israel, our ally in the war on terrorism. These are just a few of the possible consequences of a failed state in Iraq.

I know the high cost of war, especially on the families who have lost loved ones or who worry about soldiers still in Iraq. But our troops deserve the opportunity to continue to succeed in their mission. Instead of talking about withdrawing our troops prematurely, we should focus on how best to support them in their mission.

Senator Jim Bunning
Republican of Kentucky