Iraq on Wolf’s Doorstep

Iraq on Wolf’s Doorstep

Congressman addresses protests.

U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10) has continued to voice his support for the findings of the Iraq Study Group as he addressed a recent campaign by anti-war activists aimed at influencing federal officials to support a removal of U.S. troops in Iraq.

"Wolf has shown some moderation in his views, but now we’re trying to influence him to leave behind old failed policy and adopt a new policy to more properly address the desires of his constituency," said Tina Kocak, an organizer with the Iraq Summer Campaign, a consortium of organizations committed to an immediate withdrawal of troops in Iraq.

Kocak joined with other local Herndon-area activists in delivering a letter to Wolf’s Herndon office on July 12 asking him to oppose President George W. Bush’s recent troop surge in Iraq and to attend a town hall meeting Aug. 28 to answer constituent questions about their views of the war.

Other Virginia officials who received similar letters included Republican U.S. Sen. John Warner, U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-11) and U.S. Rep. Thelma Drake (R-2).

The invitation and the town hall meeting are sponsored by Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, an advocacy group working as part of the Iraq Summer Campaign. Wolf has declined the request, citing a desire to address the issue from a non-partisan platform through support of the Iraq Study Group findings.

WOLF, WHO FIRST introduced the legislation to establish the Iraq Study Group in March 2006, has continued to express his desire to see new legislation passed that would make the group’s recommendations into official U.S. foreign policy in Iraq.

Those recommendations include a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops by 2008, more open and direct dialogue of regional security with countries neighboring Iraq and increased responsibility placed on the Iraqi government to provide security and stability, amongst others. The report was officially released in December 2006, but has not been officially accepted by the Bush administration as U.S. policy towards Iraq.

Making the findings of the Iraq Study Group official policy "makes sense, it brings the country together, it is the way to handle this issue in a responsible manner," said Wolf, pointing to the bipartisan support of the study and its recommendations. "When we are divided as a country we are weak, and I think that we need to get into looking at this issue" with the help of both Republicans and Democrats.

"For the good of the country, for the good of our men and women serving in uniform, we must look at passing the Iraq Study Group" recommendations.

THE TOWN MEETING is more about addressing the multitude of issues in Iraq like how access to Iraq’s oil supplies will be governed and to what extent U.S. military presence will continue in Iraq following a major withdrawal, said Stephen Hayes a Herndon-area resident and a retired U.S. Army PFC who officially delivered the letter to Wolf’s office.

"There are a couple of more things that we need to look at than what a phased withdrawal includes," said Hayes. "If there is no valid deal on some of these extra conditions that exist in Iraq we cannot look to long-term stability."

"It’s time for us to expand the range of what’s on the negotiating table other than making it … strictly a military decision."

One of the co-signers of the letter was McLean resident and Georgetown University public policy professor Judy Feder, a Democrat challenging Wolf for his seat in next year’s elections. Feder, who ran an unsuccessful campaign to unseat Wolf last year, said that she was there to influence Wolf to make a stand for an end to Bush’s troop surge.

"I think that Frank Wolf needs to take action and vote to bring our troops home," she said. "Every vote he has taken so far with respect to Iraq has failed to do that … and we need a congressman who will vote to bring the troops home."

The most reasonable policy towards addressing the war in Iraq lies in taking a middle-ground approach by supporting the opinions set in the Iraq Study Group and not to bring politics unnecessarily into the debate, Wolf said.

"No one connected to the Iraq Study Group has ever tried to politicize the recommendations or the war in Iraq," he said. "I believe that it is the answer and I will continue the effort to see its recommendations codified."