Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack says his trip to Iraq this week solidifies his belief that U.S. soldiers should be out of that country within a year. Loebsack, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, returned to Iowa this morning and he talked about his experiences during taping of the Iowa Public Television program "Iowa Press."
"It’s a scary place, that’s the first thing I think we need to keep in mind," Loebsack began. "…I went there because while I’m on the Armed Services Committee and we’ve had testimony…from a number of military folks, it’s not the same thing sitting in a committee room in Washington, D.C. and listening to these folks as it is actually being where it’s happening." Loebsack was ferried into Baghdad’s "green zone" in a Black Hawk helicopter, and spent two days there meeting top generals and talking with troops, including a few Iowans.
Loebsack says the troops are "committed" and "don’t think about the politics of it" — and it’s up to congress to "honor" their service. That means, according to Loebsack, spending more to treat the soldiers who’re injured in Iraq and spending more on protective equipment and training for soldiers who’re being sent into harm’s way.
Loebsack says he is "committed" to making sure the U.S. troops are withdrawn within the year because Iraq is deteriorating. "This is more complicated than a civil war," Loebsack says. "It’s not just Baghdad. It’s not just Anbar province. It’s also in the south. It’s an impossible situation." Loebsack, a rookie congressman who said during the fall campaign that he would not vote to cut off the funds for troops in the field, now says he backs a plan that would see congress set "benchmarks" for continued funding.
"So that the (Bush) Administration has to meet particular criteria for the funding to occur," Loebsack says. Loebsack has a stepson in the Marines who was in Iraq two years ago and a daughter-in-law who is currently serving in Anbar province in Iraq.