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Kingston speaks to Rotary Club
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) speaks to the Rotary Club on Tuesday about the Iraq War. - photo by Photo by John Deike
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) arrived in Hinesville on Tuesday to offer insights on some divisive issues including the present state of the war.
While speaking to the  Hinesville Rotary Club, the congressman was cautiously optimistic in his elaborations concerning the U.S. presence in Iraq.
Kingston noted his recent trip to Iraq and said he had an opportunity to talk to Generals Rick Lynch and David Petraeus who offered him some “hard facts” about the troop surge implemented by President Bush this past winter.
He said the U.S. Army typically receives 23,000 tips each month from Sunni and Shiites, troops have uncovered 600 weapons caches (600 is the total number of caches found in 2006) and there's been a decrease in the number of improvised bomb attacks.
Kingston said he is confident the U.S. is about to “round the corner” in terms of progress in Iraq, and believes the Army needs to remain there to avoid losing the momentum they’ve gained in places such as Tikrit, Ramadi and Fallujah.
In terms of the new Iraqi government, Kingston said it is working at the local levels since seven of the 18 provinces are in Iraqi hands. But he implied the overall government was “dysfunctional.”
“Sunni and Shiite just aren’t ready to get together and hold hands in the name of democracy, and I’m worried about it. But they have made some progress and I think that to not give them the support they need could be precarious. We want our guys to come home, yet at the same time can we do it without causing a disaster and losing the ground we’ve gained,” he said.
And even though Kingston is optimistic, he criticized some of the U.S. government's observations of the war by calling it “happy talk.”
During his speech, Kingston showed a recent video where he and other politicians spoke with Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Barham Salih, about issues relating to the war effort.
Despite the conditions created by war, Salih said the present situation is better than it was under Saddam, but the debaathification process needs to be reversed to encourage more cooperation within the fragile Iraqi government.
Salih also provided some positive and negative statistics that included information from geologists who believe Iraq’s oil reserves are greater than Saudi Arabia’s.
He also said the tally of 3,000 dead Iraqi bodies found each month is disheartening.
Salih encouraged the U.S. Army to stay in Iraq since al-Qaeda is both an enemy of Iraq and America.
“There is no quick fix here. This is a generational issue, and if you want to win it you need to think of this thing in terms of long term ... I can tell you there are many Iraqis who want this thing to succeed and are committed to making this succeed. It is difficult trying to reconcile religion, politics, women’s rights, human rights ...”
In closing, Kingston said there are 140,000 private contractors working to increase the security and help with the reconstruction effort in Iraq, and 353,000 troops are now enlisted in the Iraqi Army.
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