May 23, 2019

Iraq War surge elicits student reaction

President Bush addressed the nation Sept. 13, follwing Gen. David Petraeus
J. Scott / Associated Press

Many Fresno State students have friends or family members stationed overseas and serving in the armed forces, many of whom could be coming home within the next year.

Amid an ever-increasing fervor from the Democratic party calling for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, President George W. Bush announced in a speech last Thursday that 5,700 soldiers would be coming home by the end of the year.

The decision was made based upon recommendations of Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. Bush also said that troops would begin shifting from a leading to a supporting role in the country, pushing Iraqi forces to the forefront instead.

The reaction at Fresno State to the president’s speech was one of skepticism and uncertainty. Many did not believe that the withdrawal would actually happen.
“It’s a lot of talk. [Bush is] not credible,” Twenty-two-year-old business major Ilich Lopez said. “Elections are coming up, so [the administration is] getting more press for Republicans.”

Fresno State history professor Jill Fields believes that bringing troops back is a good idea, but that we should be cautious in the manner that forces are withdrawn.

“Everything that this administration has done has been too politically influenced,” Fields said. “They have just failed too many times to be trusted to handle the withdrawal from Iraq correctly.”

Up to 30,000 additional troops were sent to Iraq in early 2007. Students question what purpose these troops serve.

“We had a reason to be there in the first place, to defend ourselves,” said Steven Godwin, a 21-year-old business major. “But now I don’t know what we’re doing there.”

According to the Web site, which maintains records of Iraq Coalition casualty counts, Iraqi civilian deaths numbered about 1,700 per month between November 2006 and March 2007, while military deaths were as high as 300 per month in that same time month. As of Sept. 18, the total casualties for the war in Iraq number 3,788.

There seems to be no clear-cut answer on what the right direction is for our troops. Some Fresno State students are against pulling out.

“I think if you start something, you should finish it,” said Julio Ramirez, a math major. “If you start building a house, you don’t leave the middle unbuilt.”
Fresno State freshman Priscilla Montolongo believes we should be helping Iraq.

“I feel like if [the U.S.] was in trouble and needed help, I would want it,” she said.

The Collegian staff writers Josh Butters, Shauna Johnson, Ben Keller, Victor King and Christopher J. Manriquez contributed to this report.

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