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General: U.S. Must Maintain Presence in Iraq

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert Springer finds President Bush's assessment of the Iraq War more tenable than candidate Barack Obama's.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — On the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War, President George W. Bush touted the gradual rebuilding of the country while Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged to end the conflict if elected.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert Springer said he finds Bush's assessment more tenable than Obama's.

"I don't know what ending the war means. Does it mean abruptly pulling everyone out and bringing the troops home? It's not an easy thing to do," Springer said. "Amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk about logistics. You would need 18 to 24 months to bring everybody home if you chose to do that."

Obama said the Iraq War hasn't made America safer, but has instead created more bitter enemies for the country. Springer disagreed.

"I would say we are safer. We have not had an attack on American soil since 9/11," he said.

That safety has allowed the war to slip off the radar screen for most Americans, he said, despite almost 4,000 casualties and more than $500 billion invested in the conflict.

"It's been overtaken by the economy. It's been over taken by politics, maybe even by March Madness," he said.

Springer said he believes a significant American presence will be in or near Iraq for decades, although he said he understands the worry and frustration of the American people over a war that's already lasted five years.

"Our independence was 1776. It was 1786, (or) 11 years, before we got the Constitution, and there was a lot of fighting in there, too," he said, citing another lengthy battle in American history.


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