Monday, January 09, 2006

Bush has planned exit strategy

By Mary Madewell
The Paris News (Texas)
January 09, 2006

The senior member of the U.S. House of Representatives says President George W. Bush has an exit strategy for Iraq, regardless of some charges to the contrary.

“Once we set up a friend as the head of Iraq, the new Iraqi president is going to ask the American military to withdraw,” U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Rockwall, said Friday in a telephone interview from his home.

“That’s going to be our exit strategy,” the District 4 congressman said.

Hall said he expects the Iraqi people to elect a Shitte who is friendly to the United States in upcoming presidential elections.

“We can then leave it for those people to carry out their defense for the freedom we have fought so hard for them,” Hall said. “I think we need to leave military equipment over there to help in their defense just like we did in Israel.”

Hall explains that troop withdrawal will be gradual, noting that Bush recently announced the down-sizing of troops to begin this year.

“I want him to get out of there, but I want him to come out with honor and dignity,” Hall said of his long-time friend.

Although Hall has been close to the George H.W. Bush family for years, he is not always in agreement with his friends.

While Bush insists the War in Iraq is a part of the War on Terror as well as a war to establish Iraqi freedom, Hall terms it “a war for energy,” a strategy Bush downplays.

“The War on Terror involves keeping the bad guy from having his foot on half the oil reserves in that most populated area,” Hall said. “For that reason I think you could glean that this is a war for energy.”

“The president places his values on freedom, and Iraq will be a bastion of freedom for the whole Arab world to see,” Hall said of his take on Bush’s emphasis.

“He sees energy as a secondary purpose,” Hall continued. “It is clearly a strong secondary purpose, and in my belief the real reason for going over there.”

Hall says he has spoken many times with Bush.

“We have talked about the War on Terrorism and giving people freedom and that Iraq could begin a domino effect in the Middle East,” Hall said.

The congressman expressed frustration with a recent defeat he suffered on Capitol Hill to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling.

“I am so mad about that you can’t believe,” said Hall, chairman of the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.

“We had it cinched at one time,” Hall raved. “We were outmaneuvered by Democrats and weak-kneed Republicans in the Senate.”

The maneuvering included a threatened filibuster of the appropriations bill if ANWR was included. Republicans pulled ANWR to avoid a filibuster.

“We should have made those people (Democrats) filibuster a situation that is going to cause our grandchildren to go to war,” Hall said about the recent budget reauthorization bill. An amendment to drill the ANWR had to be pulled.

Hall has reiterated his stand on energy many times since District 4 sent him to Congress in the early 1980s.

“I don’t have much regard for any of that bunch on the desert over there,” Hall said of oil-rich Middle Eastern countries to a recent Farm Bureau audience. “I don’t trust them and they don’t trust us.”

“I would like to do without them, and we can do without them,” Hall said of the opportunities ANWR and off shore drilling would provide.

During a later speech at a Lamar Energy Center gathering at Love Civic Center, Hall talked about energy and war.

“One of the major duties of a member of Congress is to prevent a war and you do that by removing the causes,” he said. “The lack of energy is one of the major causes.”

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