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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Congressman Dent Favors "Responsible Drawdown" in Iraq

LVRamblings: How do you see America responsibly handling the War in Iraq and America's growing debt at the same time? What condition are we going to leave the country in for our children? This question is posed by one of your supporters.

Congressman Dent: "It's a reasonable question. As we all know, the war began before I arrived in Congress. I was briefed recently in the situation room on the Status of Forces Agreement. The Status of Forces Agreement is something that I urged well over a year ago. There are over 70 Status of Forces Agreements around the world. We have them in Germany, Korea, Iceland. They state the terms and conditions under which our troops maintain a presence. We have one in the Philippines. They don't want us to be there so we're gone. The same thing is happening in Iraq. We are very close to initialling a Status of Forces Agreement.

"I believe you will see a significant drawdown of our troops, based on conditions on the ground, and that is a good thing. The Iraqi government has talked about time horizons and that is being discussed as part of a Status of Forces Agreement that will be flexible. The good thing about that is that the Iraqi government now feels that they have enough control of the security situation and political situation to basically encourage a lessening of our combatant presence. That is a good thing. That is a very good thing.

"Remember, if the state of Iraq fails, the people who are negotiating this Agreement will be the first ones who will be lined up against a wall and shot. And they know that.

"The problem with Congress on Iraq is we've always talked about congressionally legislated timelines. If we had adopted the timelines that Siobhan Bennett had advocated, she would have in effect have legislated defeat."

LVRamblings: And possibly genocide?

Congressman Dent: "And possibly genocide and unspeakable atrocities. Had we done what we wanted to do, we would be having a very different conversation today about a Status of Forces agreement and a time horizon agreed to by both governments. This is being driven by the Iraqis and that's a good thing. it means the security situation has improved as has the political situation. That is encouraging.

"The problem in Congress is that the debate has always been very narrow. We've been debating very narrow aspects. Pro-surge or anti-surge. Timelines. Mandatory rest periods. By the way, if we had done what Bennett wanted to do on the rest period, she would have in effect extended the deployment of troops currently serving in Iraq and treated people serving in Iraq differently than people serving in Afghanistan. That's what she wanted to do. She would have extended their deployments because if you couldn't move people in, you wouldn't be able to move people out. She would have extended them."

LVRamblings: You mean, my daughter would have stayed there a little longer?

Congressman Dent: "Yes, that is correct. If we had done it the way Bennett wanted to do it, your daughter would be staying there longer. She would have had a much longer deployment than she would have liked.

"The goal is to go to one year rest for one year deployment, but the way she proposed it . . .

LVRamblings: It would have been inequitable . . .

Congressman Dent: "It would have been inequitable and it would have extended deployment of our men and women serving in Iraq. It would have been a fiasco.

"By the way, I was one of the guys - there were a handful of us on both sides of the aisle - who always, when these Iraq votes came up, said we have this bi-partisan document, the Iraq Study Group. We wanted to present it as a comprehensive policy. The truth is, the Bush administration wasn't thrilled about it, Speaker Pelosi didn't like it, Speaker Pelosi refused to allow it to be considered. I went to the Rules Committee on two separate occasions, trying to present this to the whole House for a vote. They said No. I think that was in February of 2007. I went back again three months later - I think it was in the summer of 2007 - and they told me I should have brought it up months ago. I said, well I did, but you said no then. Remember? They said No."

LVRamblings: I think I remember blogging about that . . .

Congressman Dent: "But that';s the way i tried to work. Sestak was there . . ."

LVRamblings: Sestak is a Democratic Congressman . . .

Congressman Dent: "He was there. He sat in the Rules meeting with me . . ."

LVRamblings: He is the first one to announce candidly that "immediate withdrawal" means 18 to 24 months . . . that there's no way you can withdraw troops any quicker without exposing them to danger . . .

Congressman Dent: "And Joe Sestak, who served in the Clinton administration, said it took six months to move 10,000 people out of Somalia. You can't move 160,000 people out of Iraq in six months. It's just impossible."

"That's the problem with Siobhan Bennett's timelines. They would have legislated defeat, would have led to enormous safety problems for our troops, many of whom would have died in that kind of ignominious retreat. That's really what she would have prescribed. I think that's the reality.

"I've always voted to fund our troops. I believe Senator McCain always has, and Senator Obama has on most occasions. There's one occasion when he did not. But Siobham does not support funding our troops. She has been in opposition to any funds going to our troops, who are in harm's way.

"All she ever wanted to do is establish operational controls on our troops. I've been to Afghanistan, I've been to Iraq. What really disturbs me about Bennett's position is what I see with NATO allies who impose very strict operational controls on their troops. I've seen this. That puts very heavy pressure on other NATO forces, especially us, to do what they are unable to do because of the controls placed on them. That's what Siobhan wants to do to our troops and commanders in Iraq - place operational controls so they cannot do what they need to do.

"It's one of the challenges and this gets back to the Russia-Georgia issue. I am very concerned about NATO. I believe in NATO, but NATO is not a club. It is a collective defense organization. If this collective defense organization fails, we'll all be the worse for it. So we have to be very careful when we talk about admitting new nations into NATO, whether it be Georgia and that obligates us to their . . ."

LVRamblings: It obligates us to defend them . . .

Congressman Dent: "That's correct. Or the Ukraine or whoever.

"We have to have a very sober conversation about what membership means. Our nation spends nearly 4% of its GDP on defense. Many of our good friends in Europe spend about 1%. So this defense obligation will fall most heavily on The United States of America. So we have to think about this. We have to consider or revisit the membership criterion of NATO. Maybe nations should be required to invest more in their own security. This is an American guarantee for their defense. At the end of the day, we are providing so much of the leadership in NATO, whether it be in Afghanistan or Europe, that this is something we have to think very hard about.

"Last night, I wrote up my feelings about Iraq. You can have this if you want."

LVRamblings: Sure, I'll load it up on my blog. (Congressman Dent's condensed views about Iraq are portrayed in the blog below).


Anonymous said...

This interview is very intersting. It's the first time I've ever read more than two sentences from Dent. I'd like to see more of these in depth interviews.

Anonymous said...

Bennett keeps showing again and again that she is in way over her head with this campaign.

I'm a life long Democratand and have never voted for a Republican but I also will not vote for Sam Bennett for any office, not even dog catcher.

I probably won't vote for Dent but I most definitely will not vote for Bennett either.

She is one of the poorest examples of a candidate that I have ever seen.

She can't come up with a better strategy against Dent, in a Presidential year when we have our best chance ever of beating him?

Pitiful and disgraceful!

Anonymous said...

Ok, is this the Dent for Congress blog?

We get it already, you support Charlie Dent.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Back in May, I spent most of a week with posts concerning my lengthy interview with Sam Bennett. This is the flip side.

People like Charlie, who participate in major policy decisions, get only limited exposure in the MSM. A sentence here, a sound bite there. All of this leads to a misperception that someone like Charlie is just an "empty suit" or a "nice guy" who is just rubber stamping what is in front of him.

The interview demonstrates that Dent is an intelligent and thoughtful legislator. he leans more to the right than I do, but he also has a better understanding of the issues than most of us.

Rather than allowing misperceptions about Dent to be propagated, why not present him in his own words?

Of course, you don't have to read these interviews.

Chris Miller said...

I want to congratulate you on your on going report with Charlie Dent. Your statement that he gets minimal space in the MSM is correct. I wish that he would consider doing what Pat Toomey did with Gunther on 790. I know the two men have had their disagreements in the past but it would be a real service for those of us in the valley.
That said Charlie is a good man and very effective. I had a meeting with him pertaining to my mom and medicare and he and his staff were right on top of it as I sat with him in his Bethlehem office.
Again, congrats to you on a job well done.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks, Chris. Incidentally, the questions you posed were asked and the answers will be posted, too.

Anonymous said...

thoughtful responses to complex problems always require more space and time than sloganeering . . . and more than the MSM can spare.

good job!

Anonymous said...

The questions posed in this post were mine, and Mr. O'Hare is right about me. After following this race for a long time, I have become a Dent supporter.

In his own words, Congressman Dent explains his stance on handling the War in Iraq responsibly and effectively. I appreciate the work and investigation he has done to come up with this stance, and his broader view on how our actions internationally affect us at home, our troops, and the people in the countries affected by our military presence. Also, I had previously not given much consideration to the important issues we face as a NATO member. This blog has given me a lot to think about.

I am still concerned about how all this will affect our debt situation domestically, however. Asking our NATO allies to contribute more financially is only one small piece of the pie. I would like to know more about how Congressman Dent sees America facing it's growing debt problem. I hate the idea of our children inheriting a huge tax and economic burden that they cannot climb out from under.

Bernie O'Hare said...


I'm sorry, but never asked that question. It's another good one.

Blah Society said...

It's a shame that Bennett wasn't this prepared and detailed during her interview.

Do you think she'd be up for another?

Anonymous said...

The only thing that Bennett will be "up" for is slinging more mud.

Anonymous said...

Dent for VP

Anonymous said...

Not happening but it would probably be the only way that Sam Bennett could win.

Bernie O'Hare said...

AJ, I've made the offer. I doubt seriously that Bennett wants a second round.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Dent for VP"

There is no doubt in my mind he is going places.

Anonymous said...

Good Morning, Thank you for reading "Lehigh Valley (Whores for Dent) Ramblings. I'm not only promoting Charles Dent, I'm insulting Sam Bennett, but it's okay, Sam insulted Charles first, that makes it okay!

I'm voting for Dent, but I think the best way to handle Bennett is ignore her and let her keep self destructing. Kicking her only makes people stop to look. Why bother publishing anything she sends you? She's hopeless!

Anonymous said...

The 1:27 anon post speaks for itself. A namecaller accusing the other of namecalling. The former anonymously whilst the latter, with a fullly disclosed identity. I'm not a huge Dent fan, disagree with him on tort reform, abortion, and other matters. But one thing he does well is public service. His office is one of the most responsive, approachable and accountable in all of Congress. Call him, he'll call you back and not with gobblespeak. Just like he did here. Gotz my vote. NLV

Anonymous said...

Charlie is a pro-abortion, pro-war Democrat (just like Hillary and numerous other Ds) for all intents and purposes.

Democrats are frustrated because he's a better Democrat than the ones they keep trotting out every two years. As long as he flashes cardboard checks and stays firmly on the pro-abortion side, he's in like Flynn.

Because social conservatives can't stand him, Bernie and most Ds love him. He even gets to support the war and get away with it.

Anonymous said...

Ask yourself these basic questions:

1.Who do I want addressing the tough issues on national security -
Sam Bennett or Congressman Dent?

2. Who would I want to address crisis situations like Georgia-Russia - and who is most qualified to do so - Sam Bennett or Congressman Dent?

3. Who do I want representing me and forming policy on energy initiatives which will no doubt impact us all for generations to come - and who is most qualified to do so - Sam Bennett or Congressman Dent?

4. Do I want someone with a real record of crafting and voting on budget issues, or do I want someone with no experience at all in terms of public policy and legislation - and who is most qualified - Sam Bennett or Congressman Dent?

So, in terms of Hillary's commercial, who do you want at the phone answering the tough questions and voting on the tough issues when they come before Congress - and who is most qualified - Sam Bennett or Congressman Dent?

Looking beyond party spin, if you answer these questions honestly, the choice should be very clear, and very simple.

Anonymous said...

His statements of confidence in NATO are either painstakingly diplomatic, or frighteningly naive and dangerous.

The Georgian invasion is illustrative of NATO's has-been status. It's a toothless old tiger, the majority of whose members long ago abandoned their military postures. Europeans, as evidenced twice in the last century, have a strong collectivist culture and a very short memory when it comes to tyranny.

Mr. Dent should measure his confidence in NATO against the realities on the ground in a country (Georgia) where streets are named after US presidents, but where the Russians didn't think twice about humiliating an ally while we and NATO did and do nothing.

Anonymous said...

Then again, I'd likely have to provide the Bennett campaign with a remedial version of the last post. Bigger print, more pictures, I guess.

Charlie will win. But I hope he takes a realistic review of NATO's incapabilities.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 7:57, Those are hardly endorsements of NATO. Dent makes very clear that it's time for NATO to step up.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 7:57, 8:00,

When he visited Afghabistan this winter, Dent was making much the same observations. Some of the NATO forces, for example, can't fly at night. That leaves the U.S. holding the bag, especially if there is an evac of a wounded soldier in an area with no roads.

He did not come out and blast NATO, but spoke much more forcefully than the Bush admin.

Anonymous said...

The fact that Dent is willing to have a serious, on-the-record conversation with a blogger who is reputed to be a bit of a loose cannon in some circles is a point in his favor. I hope that Dent appreciates the fact that at least one voter is looking at him in a more-favorable light as a result.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Loose cannon? Moi?