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Chaldeans Wonder Which Presidential Candidate Is Best
By Chaldean Caucus :: Thursday, October 9, 2008 :: 73418 Views :: Government & Society, Chaldean Caucus

Michigan, USA – “Chaldeans will overwhelmingly vote on values,” says Roger Shamoun a legal officer with Oakland Courts.  “Chaldeans know the root of so much evil in the world comes from what we as Americans value.  That does not mean Chaldeans are oblivious to the suffering of Iraqi Chaldeans in Iraq.  Both issues are important to the community, and it seems the community is leaning towards Senator McCain as the best candidate to address both of these important issues.”

Julie Hindoo, a college freshman at Oakland Community College disagrees and plans to vote for Barack Obama. “He is cool and hip.  It would be sweet to have a black president in America.  Plus look what Bush has done to Iraq,” she says.

“That seems to be the crux of the issue in the community,” says Shamoun.  “Chaldeans who are voting on faith, family, and tax issues will be voting for McCain hands-down, but what about those who don’t care about those issues and instead care about the Iraqi war.  How should they vote?”

The Chaldean Caucus reports that there is no question that the American reinforcements dispatched by President Bush have helped reduce violence against Chaldeans and sectarian violence in general.  The military, both directly through military operations and indirectly by helping encourage the spread of the Awakening movements, in which neighborhood watch groups have taken on Islamic extremists have helped Chaldeans drastically

“The glaring differences between Obama and McCain is how they voted in the past and how they plan to vote in the future.  Not what they say, but what they will do and character is the best predictor of action,” says Joseph Kuza from the Chaldean Caucus of Michigan. 

“A hallmark of McCain’s character is that he votes on issues, regardless of where his party stands on the issue,” says Shamoun.  “McCain supported decision to go to war, but was an early critic on how the war was handled.  Obama has never gone against his party and does not seem to be willing to work with anyone but his own party.  This is not an opinion, but a fact of record.” 

Obama has spoken out against war and has opposed troop increase, which many Chaldeans admit would have been disastrous for the minority community in Iraq.  McCain supported the troop surge saying the increased boots on the ground will help provide the needed protection for minority groups until the Iraqi government can establish multi-ethnic police force to protect their rights.  McCain has also gone on record saying he is willing to have permanent U.S. peacekeeping forces in Iraq.  A force that would help address any minority abuses.  Obama says his plan would complete withdrawal of combat troops by end of 2009, a plan that many Chaldeans are uneasy about.  

American commanders have also warned that the situation remains fragile, and that there has been mixed or no political progress in other areas. For the candidate who is elected, the challenge is how to sustain the reduction in violence and encourage political headway now that the so-called surge of combat brigades is over, and now that Bush has accepted the military's recommendation to remove another combat brigade and some smaller units, about 8,000 troops in all, by February.

On the surface, the two candidates' views on troop cuts appear to have converged: Each candidate envisions reductions in American force over his first term, as does the Iraqi government. But the similarities vanish upon closer inspection.

“Chaldeans are not happy with how the war has been handled, but a complete withdrawal could usher a complete annihilation of the minority community,” says Kuza.  “Chaldeans are not happy about how the war was handled, but Chaldeans are not voting for Bush.  Nonetheless, Obama’s campaign has done a great job in marketing McCain as Bush and many Chaldeans have bought into the sale.”

American intelligence agencies warned in a national intelligence estimate that the removal of all American and allied forces within 18 months would almost certainly lead to a significant increase in sectarian fighting, suggesting that the speedy, if partial, withdrawal advocated by Obama would also risk a major increase in violence against Chaldeans.

Obama has said he would remove the remaining combat brigades at the rate of one or two a month. Obama argued that it was important to set a new course that would put pressure on the Iraqis to overcome their differences, free up more American forces for Afghanistan and other potential trouble spots, and reduce expenditures so they could be channeled to programs in America.

Obama has said, “At some point we have got to break the Iraqi link. We have got to be able to say to the Iraqis: We are going to make a set of decisions, and you've got to react to them.”  This is what many Chaldeans fear says Kuza.  “If the Iraqi forces can not stop insurgents, minorities will be the first to be targeted to raise money for the inevitable civil war.”

In past years, the United States has generally increased its troop levels when the Iraqis have carried out major elections, and American officers are generally wary of making deep troop cuts before the provincial and parliamentary elections are held over the next year.

Seeking to preserve a measure of flexibility, Obama said that he would “reserve the right to pause a withdrawal” if it led to a major increase in sectarian violence.   Iraqi Christians are concerned that once Americans leave they will not return over violence against minorities. 

The facts don’t seem to persuade Hindoo.  “I am not going to change my vote, no matter what anyone tells me.  I don’t care that Obama has a mysterious past, no one cares that Saudi Arabia paid for his admission into Columbia or Harvard or why they refuse to release his papers from school.  I don’t care that his friend was a terrorist in Chicago or that he supports infanticide.  I don’t care that taxes will go up if he is elected or that Obama is all talk with no experience.  I am going to vote for him.”