By Justin Boron
Initially a supporter of the Iraq war, Clayton County's Democratic congressman is moving closer to reversing his position, saying if the Iraqis approve a constitution, the U.S. will have achieved all of its set goals and should begin the process of bringing its troops home.
David Scott, the 13th district U.S. representative for Clayton County and parts of Henry County, said he is unsure of the Bush Administration's current direction in the war that has thus far claimed more than 1,940 members of the U.S. military.
”The president is going to have to do better job of spelling out what the job is,“ he said. ”It keeps sliding.
”We lost direction on what our goal was, what our objective was.“
With polls showing declining American support for the war, President Bush has tried to remind Americans of the threats that the country is up against.
In remarks aimed at those seeking a withdrawal of U.S. troops, Bush said: ”There's always a temptation in the middle of a long struggle to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder.“
”We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory,“ he said.
President Bush's policy faces a crucial test in Iraq's Oct. 15 referendum on a new constitution, a vote that Bush has said terrorists will try to derail.
Scott said the constitution should be a pivotal point in the country's mission for the war.
”Now I think it is important that we ask some very serious questions of our President.“
Scott said he thinks the country went to war for the right reasons, two of which were weapons of mass destruction and eliminating the threat of Saddam Hussein.
Although no weapons of mass destruction were found, he said they were still valid goals.
But at some point, the mission got distorted, he said.
”He kicked Colon Powell out of the saddle and started listening to the hard-liners,“ Scott said.
One question that Scott said needs to be pried into further is whether the troop presence is contributing to the insurgency.
Countering claims that the U.S. military presence in Iraq is fueling radicalism, Bush has noted that American troops were not there on Sept. 11, 2001. He said Russia did not support the military action in Iraq, yet a terrorist attack in Beslan, Russia, left more than 300 schoolchildren dead in 2004.
Another important component of the war that Scott said needs to be outlined more clearly is its cost.
”How much cost is the war going to be? How are the funds going to be spent?,“ Scott asked.
The Senate voted Friday to give President Bush $50 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. military efforts against terrorism, money that would push total spending for the operations beyond $350 billion.
On top of the costs, Scott also said he is concerned about the nation's ability to police the situation in the Middle East while simultaneously trying to rebuild the Gulf Coast decimated by Hurricane Katrina.
Despite his concerns about spiraling costs for the war, Scott said he would never vote to endanger U.S. troops by refusing to provide them what they need to maintain safety.
”Every vote has been predicated upon that,“ he said. ”The paramount concern for me is the welfare of our troops.“
The Associated Press contributed to this article.