Mixed reaction to troop increase

By Cynthia Retamozo and Zach Finklestein

In a much anticipated televised speech Jan. 10, President George W. Bush announced 21,500 additional troops are to be sent to Iraq. In addition, the Iraqi government will commit more of its own forces to aid in securing terrorist-cleared areas.

The announcement caused mixed reaction throughout the country and college campuses.

Officer Major Matthew Mercadante, an associate professor in military science and executive operations, said while the president did mention his desire to add troops, there were no specifics in the speech. President Bush also didn’t specify what the additional troops would be doing, and not all soldiers fight on the front lines, Mercadante said.

He consciously remains unbiased about the politics of the war, and if he leans toward either extreme, he may not be able to do his job as an American soldier, he said.

“I’m an active duty officer 24/7,” he said. “If I get orders to go overseas, then I’ll go. In the end, the president is the Commander in Chief.”

A majority of Americans are opposed to the troop surge, according to a Jan. 11 Associated Press poll. The poll, which surveyed 1,002 adults, found that 35 percent think it was right for the United States to go to war. The statistic was the lowest thus far in AP polls, and drastically different from two years ago when two-thirds of Americans supported the war. Seventy percent of Americans oppose sending more troops, according to the poll, and 60 percent think a stable, democratic Iraqi government is unlikely.

Josh Robin, president of Northeastern Democrats, said an increase of troops in Iraq would not help what is already a complex situation.

“I don’t feel an influx of troops will make a huge difference at this point,” Robin said. “The tenuous situation in Iraq needs to be addressed more from the political side of the table. While security is important for any political progress to be made, there are underlying issues behind the conflict between the Sunnis and Shiites. I am not convinced that adding troops will be able to solve that.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Dave Moberg, president of Northeastern Republicans, said America needs to go all out in its attempt to stabilize Iraq.

“An increase in troops is something we should have done a while ago,” Moberg said. “It is better to rectify a problem late than to leave it unattended. Mistakes have been made in Iraq, but that does not lessen the need to stabilize a region that could interfere with the interests of this country.”

Professor Michael Dukakis, the democratic candidate for president in 1988 and a political science professor at Northeastern, called Bush’s new plan a “terrible mistake.”

Dukakis said entering the conflict with Iraq was doomed to fail in the beginning, and adding more troops will only increase Iraq’s dependency on the United States.

“Anyone who knows about the history of the Middle East would know that if you interfere, you’re going to start a holy war,” he said. “Bush’s plan will only bring back more young Americans in caskets.”

Some students, like freshman psychology major Carmen Thurston, also disagreed with the plan.

“I think it’s ridiculous he’s not listening to his advisors or the American people,” Thurston said. “It’s clear that we’re not doing any good over there but instead our presence is making the situation even tenser. We’re a democracy and he can’t just act like it’s a fascist regime.”

Middler political science major Matthew Wanders said he does not feel the American public can handle a bigger commitment to the Middle East.

“We have lost over 3,000 American lives to this point, and invested billions of dollars into a situation with no end in sight,” Wanders said. “I do not feel our nation can stomach making any more sacrifices in that region, not when we could be using our resources elsewhere.”

Leave a Reply