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3rd Congressional Candidates on Iraq & Afghanistan

July 20, 2010

The August 3rd Primary is two weeks away, so we thought it would be useful to take a look at where the 3rd Congressional District candidates stand on major issues of the day.

One of the most pressing issues of the past decade has been the US wars/occupations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2001, nearly 1200 US troops have died in Afghanistan, while over 4400 have died in Iraq and tens of thousands more wounded in both wars. The death toll has been greater to the people of both those countries, with more than 1.3 million civilians dead in Iraq and thousands dead in Afghanistan.

The monetary cost of these two wars has also been astronomical. According to the National Priorities Project the US has spent over 1 Trillion dollars since 2001 just on these two military occupations. This amount translates into over $27 billion dollars leaving the state of Michigan and $533 million leaving Grand Rapids alone. Any candidate who was serious about government waste or local spending cuts, it is hard to ignore these numbers.

The so-called withdraw of US troops in Iraq is now under question and the Obama administration has escalated the US war in Afghanistan, which now includes Pakistan. Considering the human and monetary costs of these wars and the “no end in sight” realities, one might think that candidates running for Congress would have clear positions on these issues. Lets look at the five Republican candidates first.

Justin Amash, the darling of the DeVos clan says nothing about Iraq or Afghanistan on his website in the issues section and only makes vague comments about the role of US troops and National Security.

Steve Heacock, doesn’t mention Iraq, but he does have a position on Afghanistan. “I believe in President Bush’s freedom agenda and hope that the surge strategies will secure Afghanistan against the Taliban and ensure success for the budding democracies in both countries.  But our patience as a country is understandably ebbing.  Our willingness and ability to risk resources and lives for others’ freedom is not unlimited.  We must quickly see that the long-term goal of having each nation supporting its own democracy is realistic and achievable.

Bill Hardiman, a Vietnam War veteran says nothing about either war on his webpage in the issues section.

Bob Overbeek, who has pledged to not take more than $1 dollar in campaign contributions from any one person, is the only 3rd Congressional candidate to at least take a position on both Iraq and Afghanistan. “I support victory in Afghanistan and Iraq; however, we must wage these long-term wars with covert action and the limited use of Special Forces troops and air power. I do not support continued action in Afghanistan with the deployment of US ground troops en masse.

Louise Johnson does not take a position on either of these US wars and does not mention them in the Defense section of her issues page.

There are only two Democratic candidates running for the seat being vacated by Vern Ehlers. Unfortunately, both Pat Miles Jr. and Paul Mayhue have nothing to say about the US wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

It seems pretty clear from a review of the congressional candidates who will be on the August 3 Primary ballot that none of them are taking an anti-war position, at least not publicly.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2010 5:38 pm

    If you go to the voter guide, all candidates for the Third district were asked:

    “When should the United States use military might? Do you think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were a good use of U.S. military power, and do you believe those wars were well executed?”

    Reading the candidate responses is instructive and for the most part show how much both parties agree with the status quo position on Iraq and Afghanistan. Voters and others would learn that in Democrat Paul Mayhue’s case that he opposes the Iraq War (although barely stating: “The Iraq war was not a good use of US military power… However, I am in no position to play Monday morning quarterback on this issue.”). For Democrat Pat Miles, he says “Removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq was a good thing, but the way President George W. Bush did it was not.” Pretty lame, but what do you expect from candidates running for the Democratic Party?

    While I think the candidates’ positions should be on their websites, the information is easily available (especially to GRIID readers) if one does more research than simply looking at their websites and assuming that is all they have to say. I even feel like I remember seeing Mayhue’s and Miles’ response to the question in The Grand Rapids Press (but maybe it was The Grand Rapids Times)–either way, the info is out there.

  2. Jeff Smith permalink*
    July 20, 2010 5:43 pm

    Thanks for the input and for the heads up on what is on MLive now. I hadn’t had a chance to read that yet, but will do so. Not surprised by the responses by both Democrats.

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