Heller tells state Legislature generals should run Iraq war

CARSON CITY — Rep. Dean Heller told Nevada legislators Tuesday that congressional critics of the Iraq war should stop setting deadlines for withdrawal and let the generals run the war.

“Congress should not set arbitrary timetables and reckless dates for withdrawal that accomplish nothing but to enhance and empower the enemy,” said Heller, who last week voted against a Democrat-backed war spending measure requiring that troops come home before September 2008.

“Our soldiers don’t need 535 generals who were boldly for the war before they were boldly against it.” Heller’s comment in defense of the war drew moderate applause.

Heller, R-Nev., served two terms as a Carson City assemblyman and then 12 years as secretary of state before being elected to the 2nd Congressional District seat in November.

Each member of Nevada’s delegation in Congress delivers a speech to the Legislature when it meets every two years.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced Monday that he would push to cut funds for the war if President Bush vetoes legislation setting timetables to withdraw troops in 2008.

In an interview after the speech, Heller said he doubts Congress would make the same decision to go to war if members could turn back the clock and start over.

But he said he deals in reality and “the fact is we are there.”

“Let’s see what happens in the next six or nine months,” he said. “There is an opportunity to America to win this war. If we are not fighting it in Iraq, we will be fighting it on the shores of America.”

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