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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ: CANDIDATES, PUBLIC REACT

Varied voices on Bush's strategy

January 11, 2007

Americans listened to President Bush's strategy for Iraq with hope or despair, frustration or a growing confidence. Here are some of their reactions:

Robert C.J. Parry, 34, a marketing advisor in Monrovia and a first lieutenant in the California Army National Guard. A lifelong Republican, Parry spoke for himself, not the military.

"I was a lot more inspired than I anticipated being. I have been, on a personal level, disappointed by the management of the war, especially for the last nine months. And I think that this is truly taking a different course....

"I support any change from the status quo, especially change ... that takes the fight to the enemy more....

"It will have an effect. I know that when I was [in Iraq in 2005], another 10,000 or 15,000 bodies in Baghdad would have had some effect."

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Nora Toiv, 21, a politics student at New York University and president of NYU's College Democrats.

"To me, it sounds like more of the same. It sounds like they're not actually trying to find a real solution.... It sounds like more American troops are going to die.... I have a friend from high school graduating from West Point this year and that is who I think about....

"I don't see [Iraq] becoming peaceful, or anywhere near that. It's completely depressing."

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Gerald Flottmann, 61, a veterinarian in Montgomery, Texas, and longtime Republican.

"I sat here watching the president and felt a lot of empathy for him. If I was him, I would have told the naysayers to go to hell and then gone fishing.

"We have a culture today that wants instant results, but there's a thing called delayed gratification and that's what we've got to do in Iraq. It's going to take time. But if we pull out, you're going to see the terrorists jumping up and down....

"If we pull another Vietnam, we're going to be in a world of hurt. I don't understand why people can't see that."

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Andrew J. Bacevich, 59, professor of international relations at Boston University and a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. He voted for Bush in 2000 but not in 2004 and has switched his political affiliation from Republican to independent.

"The surge is actually quite small; the real emphasis seems to be an expectation that the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces will step up to the plate. And I just don't see any evidence that's going to happen....

"The war is not winnable, and we need to extricate ourselves. The real effort needs to be focused on managing the consequences of our failure -- without for a second suggesting those consequences are trivial.

"The surge simply postpones the day of reckoning."

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Carlyle Currier, 52, a cattle rancher in Molina, Colo., and a registered Republican.

"I'd already come to the conclusion more troops were necessary. [The speech] made me more confident that there might be some hope that could be successful.... It's worth a try....

"It may get to the point where we have to say, 'Iraq you're on your own,' but I'd say that would be a last resort. And the consequences of that, as the president pointed out, would be greatly empowering to the terrorists."

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Jack Murray, 46, a registered Democrat and heavy-equipment operator working a construction site in downtown Los Angeles.

"The speech was good.... But do I believe in it? No.... He's got to show us that he's turning it over to the Iraqi people because that's been the game plan from Day One, and that hasn't worked too well.... It's a very difficult situation, and what is his plan? If it doesn't get any better, is he going to ask for another 20,000 troops?

"You know, maybe I'm being too personal in regard to those 3,000 American troops that are dead, but I just don't trust [Bush].... [Yet] I don't know if abandoning the Iraqi people, or pulling out without having some stability there, would be the answer. It's very frustrating."

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Bradford Beaton, 46, an engineer and registered Republican in Suwanee, Ga. His son, Daniel, is in Iraq with the 2nd Marine Division.

"President Bush was very articulate in stating what needs to be done to help Iraqis get on their feet and to succeed in having a free and stable Iraq. It sounded right to me....

"There are things that could have been better.... But hindsight's 20/20; anyone can second-guess. A year from now, I would hope to see a lot more Iraqi military and police units trained. I would like to see more Iraq-led control, and I would like to hope there would be more stability. I would like to think of our troops being ready to come home.

"We can't do things by half measures. We have to be committed to success.... That's why Daniel signed up. He wanted to go and make a difference in the world."

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Geoffrey Wawro, 46, director of the Military History Center at the University of North Texas in Denton. Once a Republican, he is now registered independent.

"To say that the only way to bring peace, tranquillity and security to this troubled region is to implant democracy there is a fool's errand. The United States can't be in the business of creating democracies in countries that have authoritarian traditions.... I find it to be stupefyingly naive....

"Why we are even tolerating talk about more troops for Iraq baffles me.... We should leave [the Iraqis] to settle their affairs their own way. It won't be any messier and bloodier than it already is.

"Why should American boys and girls be standing in the line of fire? The only argument you can make is that we created this mess and we should fix it. But the American people aren't going to accept that anymore."

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This story was reported by Times staff writers Tami Abdollah and Richard Marosi in Los Angeles, Lianne Hart in Houston, Erika Hayasaki in New York, P.J. Huffstutter in Chicago, Jenny Jarvie in Atlanta and Stephanie Simon in Denver.

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