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President's war plan proves divisive among political parties



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Opinions are still sharply divided among Utahns over President Obama's plans for the war in Afghanistan. In fact, there is not a consensus on the issue even among Democrats.

That plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan has sparked a lot of strong reactions. In Utahn, there seems to be a feeling of cautious optimism that America is about to do the right thing.

"I'm not a Democrat, so I have certain misgivings. But I think he's going in the right direction. I'd be willing to support him on that," Keith Toone said.

Ronda Acosta told KSL News, "He's doing the best job under the circumstances. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes."

But there are fierce opponents to the troop surge plan. That point of view is summed up in a comment from "Indescreetinsanpete" on the KSL.com comment boards.

Indescreetinsanpete wrote, in part: "I support the rational thinking of President Obama." Still, the writer doesn't agree with a troop increase. "We will spend billions of dollars there for years," the writer said.

Loss of life is also a concern for lots of people.

"It's a brutal war over there. I was in Vietnam, and it's nothing like Vietnam," William Gasaway said.

The unknowns are sparking tentative support from Utah's congressional delegation:

  • Republican Rep. Rob Bishop said he wants to give the president the benefit of the doubt and review his rationale.
  • Democrat Rep. Jim Matheson stated support but wants more details too.
  • Likewise for Republican Sen. Bob Bennett, who also questions setting a date for withdrawal.

Bennett's only Democratic opponent, however, is four square behind the president.

"I want to respect the lives we've lost. None of us want to lose more lives, but let's get the job over, bring our troops home," Sam Granato said.

On this issue, there is both support from Republicans and dissent from Democrats: A sign this goes beyond partisan politics.

Meanwhile, the number of Utahns who will be called to serve in the Afghan surge won't be known for several months.

E-mail: rpiatt@ksl.com

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Richard Piatt

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