During the Vietnam War, it took more than a decade before returning soldiers posed a serious challenge to congressional incumbents and Washington’s status quo. In the case of the Iraq war, it has taken less than three years.
These soldier-candidates are offering Americans a firsthand perspective on the conduct and consequences of the Iraq war and the needs that arise for the men and women being asked to fight it. For example, Tammy Duckworth of the Illinois Army National Guard lost both of her legs in 2004 when the helicopter she was piloting was hit by a grenade. She is seeking to win the open seat left by the retiring Rep. Henry Hyde in Illinois’ 6th District.
“From a policy perspective,” says Duckworth, who is running as a Democrat, “invading Iraq was a mistake.” Yet she is equally convinced that it is not in our national interest “to leave Iraq in chaos and risk allowing a country with unlimited oil wealth to become a base for terrorists.”
Andrew Duck, who served as a military intelligence officer in Iraq, is challenging a seven-term Republican incumbent to represent Maryland’s 6th District. He believes that the U.S. can neither “set a timetable for withdrawal” nor coast along on the president’s platitude to “stay the course.” Duck advocates better diplomacy to “internationalize the effort,” the closing of Guantanamo, a congressional investigation of prisoner abuse, ongoing training of Iraqi security forces, and an increase in “troop strength in Iraq, with allied cooperation, to a level that provides security for daily living.”