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Leahy, Sanders and Welch All Oppose U.S. Military Action In Iraq

All three members of Vermont’s Congressional delegation say the current situation in Iraq is largely a civil war that needs to be resolved by the Iraqi people and not by U.S. military action.

Sen. Patrick Leahy says he was strongly opposed to sending American troops into Iraq 11 years ago, and he feels the same way now.

Leahy also thinks there are many problems with President Obama ordering selected air strikes against the militant forces that are threatening the government of Prime Minister Maliki.

“We’re not going to send American troops in except to protect American interests like our embassy. We’re not going to go back into war,” said Leahy. “We went into war in Iraq under false pretenses to begin with. Now we’re suffering from what happened.”

"We are not going to go back into war. We went into war in Iraq under false pretenses to begin with. Now we are suffering from what happened." - Sen. Patrick Leahy

Some members of Congress are urging the President to take military action in Iraq to ensure that the gains of the last decade aren’t lost in a matter of weeks. Leahy bristles at this argument.

“They want to send more American lives in to be lost to justify their own mistakes,” said Leahy. “I think they ought to just go and hide their heads in shame.”

And Leahy says he’s open to the idea of working together with the government of Iran to help resolve the conflict.

“If working with Iran would help bring stability to the whole region - especially if it also can continue to remove them for being a nuclear weapons power - then I’m for it,” said Leahy.

Congressman Peter Welch is also taking a strong stand against any military intervention in Iraq at this time.

“This is a civil war with roots in the centuries. The United States should not be putting boots on the ground and I don’t believe the United States should become the Maliki air force,” said Welch. “This has to start with the Maliki government being inclusive rather than sectarian and Mr. Maliki has been exactly the opposite.”

Welch does support providing more humanitarian aid to help neighboring countries deal with an overflow of refugees.

“The satellite countries like Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey are hosting millions of refugees from the area,” said Welch. “And we want those countries to be stable, it’s a challenge for them to have all these refugees.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders also expressed strong concerns about sending U.S. troops back into Iraq or initiating air strikes against the militant forces.

In a statement, Sanders said, “we should not be paying a whole lot of attention to the opinions of those people who got us into this disastrous situation in the first place.”

Sanders also said that he doesn’t think there will be any stability in Iraq unless the entire region works to make it happen.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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