Foreign Policy Responses…

Recently, I sent my U.S. Senator and House Reps a couple of questions about our governments recent direction change regarding troop surges and withdrawls.  Hopefully you’re aware that we’re scaling down our presence in Iraq, but increasing our presence in Afghanistan.  Here were my questions:

1) What is your opinion of the recent plans to increase our troop presence in Afghanistan? Are we still searching for Osama Bin Laden after eight years of looking? Also what is your opinion of our need to disperse these troops in light of our recession here at home?

2) What, if anything, do you know about the timeline for our time in Afghanistan?

Below is the email I rec’d from US Representative Paul Ryan a couple of days ago.  what do you think of his response?


Dear Paul:


Thank you for contacting me regarding your continued concerns with our efforts to combat terrorism.  I appreciate your taking the time to share your views on this important issue.


Although we have been successful in warding off another terrorist attack since September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda and its allies remain intent on killing innocent people and spreading an ideology of violence and hatred around the world. We must never lose sight of this grave threat to our American ideals, and we must remain vigilant in our defense of freedom and democracy.  On September 10, 2007, I attended the joint House Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee hearing where General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker delivered their assessment of the situation in Iraq.  Since the full implementation of the troop surge, Violence in Iraq has fallen to its lowest level since 2003. In addition, civilian deaths are down 75% since their peak last year, and insurgent attacks are down 60% from their peak in June of 2007.  As a result, one Army Combat Brigade Team and one Marine Expeditionary Unit were rotated out of Iraq in December, and will not be replaced.  If we are able to maintain the security gains of the troop surge, approximately 3,500 troops are set to leave Iraq every 45 days without replacement.


While I understand the concerns of many about the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, the troop surge seems to have provided significant security gains.  Pulling out now would provide terrorists with a safe haven in Iraq and access to oil money, remove current restraints on sectarian violence, and create a situation for Iran to manipulate the development of the newly formed Iraqi government.


I am personally grateful to our soldiers for their service in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but I also understand the concerns of many about the situation in the Middle East.  In the meantime, I will continue to vote to provide our soldiers with the best possible equipment so they are able to complete their mission safely, effectively, and quickly, and return to their families as soon as possible.  I believe we have a duty to these individuals, their families, and those who have already lost their lives in this struggle to provide the Iraqi government this chance to take control of their country and avoid the consequences of failure in Iraq.


Should you wish to share additional information with me concerning this issue, please feel free to contact me by calling, emailing, writing, or faxing me.  Please be advised that mail sent to my Washington office is subject to an additional two-week delay due to increased mail security.  You can also receive regular updates on what is happening in Congress and the 1st District delivered directly to your e-mail inbox by signing up for my Instant News Updates.  To receive the updates, visit my website at and click on the Instant News Updates graphic on the right side of the screen for this free service. 


Thank you again for contacting me on this issue.  If I can be of further assistance to you regarding this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I am always happy to respond and be of service to you.

Sincerely,Paul Ryan
Serving Wisconsin’s 1st District


21 responses to “Foreign Policy Responses…”

  1. Julia Fessler says:

    I personally think that we should not be withdrawing troops from one area just to send them to another area that is currently considered more dangerous. I read recently that since this idea has been brought up to relocate troops and to send out about 17,000 more, the amount of Army suicides for the month has been higher than the amount of death in action or combat. That is amazing to me because people would rather die themselves than have to bare being stuck in what has been called by many soldiers “a living hell”. Although it is important to get our country back on track and to finally “win” this war and get all the troops out for good, I don’t feel like this is the answer. Are we still searching for Osama? Well, I don’t think that the efforts will stop until it has been validified to the U.S. that he is contained and no longer a threat to conspire, however, I don’t think that at this point it is our main mission.
    When it comes to releasing troops and our recession, I understand that just about everything has to do with finance and money, I think that this is one thing that we need to stop putting money sign on. These are HUMAN LIVES; they aren’t inanimate objects or pieces of paper. We need to understand that if the president does decide we need to send them out, that is the decision, whether we agree or not, it’s going to happen.

  2. Personally I think the response that you got back was very respectful. I wasn’t really expecting to hear something that tasteful, and well organized, after confrontational questions were asked of him. The way that he told you to “contact him at any time by calling, e-mailing, writing, or faxing” blew me’s like he really wants to take the time to get his message out there of why we are still fighting this thing. Personally I have very mixed feelings about this because my dad is a Master Sargent in the US Air Force and his troop is next up to deploy to Iraq in a month. It will be his 4th time to Iraq, and I can’t even count the times he has just gone to the Middle East alone. So I’m worried for him and his safety, and the safety of his troops too. But the one quote that Paul Ryan said is still stuck in my head and I had to call my dad and tell him…”We must never lose sight of this grave threat to our American ideals, and we must remain vigilant in our defense of freedom and democracy.” To me that says it all….

  3. Anna Wasmund says:

    I agree with Andrea’s assessment of Paul Ryan’s comment back. I guess i have had a lack of respect for the “lofty” dealings of high political offices and their condescendment to respond to anything we people send them. (Then again, you could be considered a high-status citizen thereby giving you a higher response percentage 😀 )
    Paul Ryan did not answer at all your Osama bin laden question which was one i was curious to hear his view on.
    I do not understand why we would rotate our troops to different areas. Seems like this war as some parallelism to the Crime and Drug readings: We cant possibly eradicate all areas of threat, nor are we necessarily focusing on central issues.

  4. Sara Lind says:

    Increasingly, I have begun to like Paul Ryan from his stance on the bailouts of the “big three” to that response. It is nice to see how welcoming the congressman is for inquiries. However, if he wasn’t, he probably would not get the votes right. At any rate, I liked how he recognized that pulling out those troops could be problematic to Iraq for numerous reasons. Clearly, he has given a position on the manner, which is great because it is really hard to get a straight answer from a lot of politicians. I wish he would have mentioned something about Bin Laden but maybe for security/military purposes he couldn’t?

    However… to respond to Julia… it is not your civil duty to just “go with it.” People can bring change to decision making. After all, did we not elect Obama? Is he not the representative leader of our country? Instead of doing nothing, the American people have to show their representatives their interests. Furthermore, by writing your congressman or senator…. and may be by overwhelming support by others of your district/state… they in turn go support your interests in D.C. In theory, aren’t those in office supposed to be the slaves of the people? Also, was it not the all of the protests by the people that stopped the American involvement in Vietnam? I’m sorry I just thought that was a terrible thing to say. We live in a representative democracy (and in my opinion, the best damn country in the world) not a dictatorship.

  5. Betsy Beck says:

    I think that Andrea’s comment was completely accurate. I feel that Paul Ryan’s response was very informative and respectful. It seems like he genuinely cares about keeping all of us informed and more than willing to help. This encourages me to be more proactive about contacting our representatives. I found this topic to be particularly interesting because my father is presently serving in Afghanistan, and just like Andrea this is his fourth tour to the middle east. I feel that the safety of our soldiers should be our top priority so I really appreciated it when Paul Ryan said that he would continue to vote for better equipment for our soldiers. His support of our soldiers is something that I feel we need more of. It was also reassuring to hear that Iraq seems to be doing better, but I can’t help to think of how we thought the same thing about Afghanistan a couple years ago, and now it is getting worse there.

  6. Katie Francour says:

    I think that Paul Ryan had a good response to your questions. He seems to really know what he’s talking about and seems to be putting the right people in mind- the troops and their families. I had a member in my family killed by a roadside bomb last April over on his 2nd tour in Iraq and seeing the way it effected all the people that were in his life is incredible. The soldiers and their families should always be first when thinking about what to do with the war, not money. It’s nice to know that someone who holds a position seems to be earnest. I am happy to hear that he will continue to vote for the best equipment available to our soldiers.

  7. Kendra Lutz says:

    I think Paul Ryan had a good response to your question. I thought it was great how he actually answered your questions thoroughly. I expected quick, simple responses. But he seems to really know what he is talking about which is very reassuring. I think it is good that we are starting to pull troops out and I’m glad that we have been maintaining a safer environment over there. I am also glad he is going to keep voting for better equipment for our troops. I have many close friends that are either over there or might be going over there and I want them to be safe and get back home safely to all their family and friends.

  8. Jessica Mesmer says:

    Paul Ryan’s response was extremely well thought out. Don’t you wonder sometimes if they are told ‘if you are asked this, say this’? It doesn’t seem like it here, because his response seems a little more personal. At the same time, however, I did notice that some of the questions asked were left unanswered. I do like that he is going to continue to vote for better equipment for our troops. If they are going to be over there, they should have the best. However, I don’t get why we have to shift our locations. This seems strange because it’s not extremely talked about-at least to my knowledge-especially when compared to the Iraqi situation.

  9. Loy Vang says:

    I understand that things are getting better in the Iraq area, but the shift towards Afghanistan…where things aren’t that great yet, I don’t think it’s a good idea or a good purpose of winning the war on terriosm.

    Paul Ryan’s letter was thoroughly thoughful, in my knowledge, and he seems to be putting people of importance upfront. Although he didn’t really answer all the questions that were asked, he had good insights on what we should focus on. By providing better equipments for our troops who are transferring out to another place is so much better than being transfer not having anything at all.

  10. Jacob Johnson says:

    I think that Paul Ryan avoided some of the question matter to be honest. He did little to explain what exactly we are doing in Afghanistan, and I do not yet fully understand what we are doing in Iraq. Are we training their police and military services? I like how he said he would continue to vote to give the U.S. soldiers the best possible equipment which immediately made me think higher taxes for defense but then he used a great public relations tactic and referred to bringing them back home to their families in the same sentence. The response is very well thought out, but I would like a source on the numbers he heard and then supplied you with in his response when he attended the House Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee hearing. I’m sure they didn’t just give these numbers at the hearing without a source so why was it given here without one. I think that given the current state of Iraq’s society it would be very hard to come up with data like this so I question the accuracy of this data to a high degree. He really doesn’t give you a timetable for our troops in Iraq either. 3,500 leaving every 45 days if the resistance continues to decline; how many troops is that out of? Overall, it is about what I would expect when writing your local representative. I would be interested to know what party he is affiliated with.

  11. Brian Cacic says:

    First off, I’m glad to hear that 3,500 troops get to come home every 45 days without replacement. This is a great thing and means we’re getting closer to the end of our mission. Personally, I don’t really like to hear about how everyone hates that troops are still over in the Middle East in large quantities and how everyone hates the government for sending them there. It’s true that many troops have died during this mission, but think how many civilians of the United States might have died if we allowed al-Qaeda to run free and have their way. If this happened, thousands more would be dead in Iraq and al-Qaeda would have access to everything they needed for another attack on the U.S. I’m glad to see that troops are being withdrawn in greater quantities but at the same time I don’t believe they were there in vain.

  12. Susan Crans-Hunt says:

    I personally don’t see to where Rep. Ryan addressed the questions you asked. He said very little about Afghanistan. He talked about Iraq and the information that was shared at that Committee Hearing, but he had very little mention to Afghanistan. He didn’t answer your question aboout Osama BinLaden either. Nor did he seem to address your last question about a timeline in Afghanistan. So, call me anal, but I do not see to where he addressed any of your questions.
    He was polite and cited information about what has happened to date, but sorry I beleive these are all scripted responses. I personally support our troops and would love to seem them home, but I also think we need to finish what was started. I hate it that we are loosing lives daily, but if we pull out of our mission too soon, I feel we would be in even more danger within the near future once the insurgents are able to recoup and reorganize.

  13. Jay Stokes says:

    I am very impressed with his response. I this it is a little too politically correct (of course it has to be) but also seems genuine. From a logical standpoint, comparative statements are not statements of absolute amounts. Therefore, when one says “civilian deaths are down 75% since their peak last year” it shows an improvement BUT how many deaths have there been? How many will there be when we start pulling out?

    “Pulling out now would provide terrorists with a safe haven in Iraq and access to oil money, remove current restraints on sectarian violence, and create a situation for Iran to manipulate the development of the newly formed Iraqi government.” My question is, is it THIS worth it? And is this an accurate prediction? Is he a psychic?

    I am thankful that people want to volunteer to fight for our country. If they didn’t then there would be a draft and I sure as hell do NOT want to be over there. Having said that, duty to support out troops is not the same as blindly following our government. Sadly I do not know enough about politics or our global situation to make an accurate assessment on the wars we are involved with right now.

    The point is, everything is more complex than it looks and there is no black or white issues… everything is gray.

  14. Brianne Coffey says:

    1.) In my opinion, I think that the plans to increase American presence in Afghanistan by sending troops will increase additional dislike of Americans by other nations. The U.S. uses their power and resources to spread “American ideals” of “freedom and democracy” in other countries. Perhaps the existence for terrorists?

    I’m not sure why America is still searching for Osama after eight years. I think Osama is replaceable and has followers who will eventually cause as much “terror” to the U.S. as Osama and Al-Qaeda. These terrorists won’t necessarily be from Afghanistan. The National Guard is sending troops to the American-Mexican border for the treats that drug trafficking has made on the vitality of American ideals.

    It costs money to send troops. During the recession, it makes a more significant impact on the economy and citizens. The unemployment rate could go down due to calling soldiers into action allowing other people to take their civilian jobs. The money spent on sending troops overseas could be spent on providing free health care to America’s citizens.

    2.) From what I know about Afghanistan is that America is trying to rebuild it with economic and reconstruction assistance, and crack down on corruption. I’ve heard rumors of Bush being friends with the Bin Ladens.

    3.) I question whether Paul Ryan really believes everything he said in his response to your letter, Professor Gregory.

    Is America always the innocent party in international conflict? How much of the threat to national security is contributed by America itself?

  15. Elisabeth Callahan says:

    I agree a lot with what Susan said. I think his response seemed personal and was filled with some good facts but the source of the statistics and numbers was not given and nowhere in his response did he directly answer any of your questions. I think this was a pretty generic response made to seem personal. As soon as i read that you were asking him about Bin Laden i got excited to hear his response, since i have long pondered the same thing, and was unsurprising disappointed when he completely avoided the question. I don’t really blame him though, perhaps its some security matter. I like Paul Ryan, from what little i know of him, and his response neither impressed me nor did it unimpressed me. I think he realizes, what should be common sense, withdrawing troops is bitter sweet.

  16. Lindsay Pethan says:

    I felt that Paul Ryan’s response was very polite and informative. I do feel however that he did not answer some of your questions that you asked. He really did not give any information on the extra troops being sent to Afghanistan. He also did not relate what he was talking about to the recession here in the United States.

    I do however think he is very knowledgable in what he is saying. He aslo seems genuine, and the response does not seem rehearsed. I have family in the military, and all of them have been deployed to the Middle East at some point throughout this war on Terrorism. I respect what they are doing for our country, but continuously worry for their safety.

  17. rachel woodford says:

    the response back was very informative, but i think he skipped some of the major questions that we as americans are all currious to know. he was very careful on his comments to not upset anyone and yet noticed all the efforts of our troops and families over seas, their location change is under question though and our continual look for osama? he seems to truly care for the country and everyone’s best interest….safety of our country is needed and also more importantly the lives of our soldiers over there!

  18. Ashley says:

    I think that you couldnt have asked for a more informative email back. Paul Ryan seems to be verywell imformed on what is going on at the current moment and what the plans for the fture are. I agree with rachel that he does seem to have the best interest at heart for the country. I also agree that that he really didnt touch too much on what you asked about taking troops out of iraq but sending more to Afghanistan. Also, i am very happy to hear about the 3500 comming home every 45 days!Im also glad to hear that civilian death and things like that in iraq are going down. I guess it was a good email back, but he did miss a few major points that you asked.

  19. Peter Fields says:

    I believe that Paul Ryan’s response was very sincere and straightforward. He seems to know what is going on with the war on terrorism and I am glad he has taken the initiative and time to do so. His response included more information on Iraq than Afghanistan; however, I am grateful to know that we are making demonstrable progress in Iraq. I hope for similar progress in Afghanistan, albeit the situation there appears to be increasingly adverse. Lastly, I like Paul Ryan’s sentiments regarding those who have served, or are serving, in those countries, and their families. I am glad he feels compelled to help those servicemen and servicewomen, because such feelings and sentiments signal that Congressman Ryan is an empathetic person. He is doing his job well and is a good man for office.

  20. David Hanizeski says:

    Regarding our presence in Afghanistan I think that the objective to search for Osama is becoming less and less a priority. I think that the governments plan is to finish what it has started at all costs so that there is no backlash against us when all is said and done. It also seems that representatives from our state and others have to support the higher decisions of the government so that they are all on the same page. Because people are very structured on trying to be unified in the countrys decisions, I think that people are fearful if leaders all appose eachoter. To me there is no “timeline” for when they will get the troups back to the states. I believe that when they feel that the job is done then and only then will there be a reduced presence of troups. However I feel we will always have some occupation in the middle east just like we do in most countries of the world.

  21. Steffany Olaciregui says:

    I think that no matter how hard we try the US will always have some involvement with the middle east because of everything that has happened. I also think that the more people and troops we sent to the middle east will cause more anger and problems for the US. Nobody wants this war to continue they want to end it to feel more secure and at peace. It is coting us so much money trying to find someone that is not as important or as dangerous as it use to be. It is using alot of resource and money that can be used for other things such as the economy.

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