Congressman Steve King, a Republican from western Iowa who just made his fourth trip to Iraq, says he’s adamantly opposed to a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
“Absolutely…History would look back on this time and say ‘What happened to the Americans? Did they lose their mind? Couldn’t they see the threat that was right in front of them? Couldn’t they hear the threats out of the mouths of their enemies?'” King says. “If we pull out and we go back to the United States and curl up in a national fetal position…they are coming after us and that’s something that we just have to know.”
King spent Thanksgiving visiting troops who’re in Germany being treated for injuries received in Iraq or Afghanistan, then King arrived in Baghdad 48 hours after a series of Thanksgiving-day bombings rocked the city. King says al Qaida coordinated the attacks to occur on Thanksgiving so there would be “negative press” with the deaths of nearly 250 people, rather than the kind of “positive press” that happened two years ago when President Bush made a surprise visit to Baghdad.
King says he sensed no panic or anxiety among U.S. troops and he says things in Baghdad seemed “calmer” than they did during his last trip there. “There was a heightened level of intensity because they’re concerned that the Iraqis will begin to really unleash their sectarian violence and revenge killing on each other,” King says. “But I did not get the sense that anyone thought that there was a major shift that was taking place there.”
While King says the level of violence in Baghdad has risen to an “intolerable” level, he predicts it will end. “Our commanders believe that they can get it under control and they can manage it,” King says. “If they can get it under control, then they can work it down into a situation where eventually…Iraqi forces can eventually take over in Baghdad.”
King says he saw plenty of new construction sites and other indications Iraq is flourishing. “There are a few little hot spots out there, but if you take Baghdad out of the equation, Iraq is in a pretty good condition,” King says.
However, King predicts the U.S. will stay in Iraq for decades to come. “It would be a catastrophe if we let Iraq melt-down and there would be no place to get a toe-hold and re-start this war against these terrorists (who) are coming after us,” King says.
King says he is not impressed with the makeup of the commission led by former Secretary of State James Baker that’s trying to come up with a solution for Iraq. Nonetheless, King says he will ask to give testimony to the group about his trips to Iraq.
King talked with reporters by phone earlier today (Monday)from a military base in Kabul, Afghanistan.