Political notebook: Chambliss, Linder support surge, Johnson doesn't

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, gave his support this week to Iraq War commander Gen. David Petraeus.

"The situation indeed remains complex, but I believe the surge has been effective, and we need to continue to support our efforts to win in Iraq and win the war on terrorism," Chambliss said to Petraeus during a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting Tuesday.

He thanked the commander for the support given to soldiers deployed to Iraq from Georgia's Fort Benning and Fort Stewart.

"We are obviously looking forward to those folks returning to Fort Stewart and Fort Benning, and what a great job they've done over there," Chambliss said. "From the very first day of this conflict they were there and they continue to perform magnificently."

Gwinnett's representatives weighed in on Petraeus's testimony.

"While I continue to honor and appreciate General Petraeus' service, his testimony today was more of the same," U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Atlanta, said Wednesday, after the general addressed the House Armed Services Committee. "Conditions on the ground in Iraq continue to deteriorate with increased violence in the Green Zone. The military reports that the number of attacks against civilians and security forces in Baghdad more than doubled in March over the previous month. Yet, Congress and the American people are asked to close our eyes to reality, place our faith in the president, and, of course, to send more troops and spend more taxpayer money.

"America is paying a high price as Iraq runs a budget surplus and supplies oil to the world at record prices. This thinking is unacceptable and it is imperative that we change course as soon as is responsibly possible."

But U.S. Rep. John Linder, the Republican whose district covers most of the county, was more supportive of the surge.

"Our service men and women have achieved extraordinary military success in Iraq, under extremely adverse conditions," Linder said. "Looking back over the past 5 years, our troops succeeded in toppling the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein in only 21 days, they have assisted the Iraqis in holding free elections, and they continue to help Iraqi citizens forge a road that will lead to peace and prosperity.

"Moreover, given the security gains in Iraq there is no doubt in my mind that a hasty withdrawal of our troops at this time would only serve to destroy all of our soldiers' efforts, as well as undermine the support of the American people for the Global War on Terror. Furthermore, it is my finding that these important developments are due in large measure to the exceptional operational leadership demonstrated by Gen. Petraeus, in conjunction with Ambassador Ryan Crocker's diplomatic efforts, in Iraq. If we do not heed his advice I fear that we may end up interrupting or destroying Iraq's pathway to a true and stabile democracy."

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.