Coble: White House Should Own Up
Commentary on this story on Thursday's Headlines Podcast .
The country's continued presence in Iraq was the focus of an address Coble delivered before the Friends of the Public Library in Jamestown Monday.
In a telephone interview Thursday morning, Coble said that it was the first time he has publicly called on the president to take a different approach to the war in Iraq.
"It has not been a smashing success by any means," he said of the invasion of Iraq.
Coble emphasized his respect and support for President Bush but said it is time for the president to admit that the situation in Iraq has not been handled properly since the initial invasion and successful toppling of Saddam Hussein and his government.
"I think the world of President Bush," Coble said. "I like him a lot."
But he said Bush would be respected even more if he would admit that mistakes have been made in handling post-war strategy in Iraq. He said he continues to support the president's action to invade Iraq and to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
Coble was among the majority in Congress supporting the decision to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein and his government. He said he stands by that decision and thinks it was the right thing to do.
His present concern, he said, is the administration's lack of efficient post-entry strategy.
However, he saved his sharpest criticism for Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton. Coble said President Clinton's administration had adequate opportunity to respond to terrorist acts and did not do so. He said that this inaction lulled the nation into a false sense of security, enabling terrorists to continue planning and getting away with attacks on the United States.
"If the Clinton administration had acted at that time, things might have been different," Coble said. "There was the first attack on the World Trade Center, then attacks on our embassies, and virtually nothing was done."
Coble said the people would have greater appreciation for Bush and "would have a better president" if Bush would admit the mistakes in Iraq and work on correcting them, instead of continuing on the present path. He said there's nothing wrong with admitting that a mistake has been made if efforts are made to correct those mistakes.
"I saw wholesale looting, and that should be the first activity against which we should guard," Coble said. "It told me we were not prepared."
Coble, who represents the 6th District, said the United States made a mistake in completely disbanding the Iraqi army after the invasion. He said retention of an organized army could have been used to stabilize the country and establish law and order.
Although it was the first time Coble has publicly called on the president to admit mistakes and correct the problem, it is not the first time Coble has expressed apprehension about the situation in Iraq. In early 2005 he offered the opinion that it was time for the country to develop a plan to bring American troops home as soon as possible. He stopped short of demanding an immediate withdrawal.
"Candor is not a sign of weakness," Coble told the Jamestown library group Monday. "People in my district who stood in line to vote for President Bush aren't happy about Iraq."
Coble, a Greensboro Republican, chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. He has served 11 terms in Congress.
The interview with The Pilot was brief because Coble was on a tight schedule while traveling throughout the district. When The Pilot reached him, he was in Salisbury for industrial tours and an address for the Rowan GOP Women's Club.
His travels have included tours, visits, appointments and addresses in communities in Guilford, Randolph and Rowan counties this week. Coble is back in the district for Congress' summer recess. His August schedule includes a visit in Moore County next week. Moore County is part of the 6th District.
Florence Gilkeson can be reached at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com
More like this story