The Gazette has published weekly opinion columns by Republican secretary of state candidate Mike Coffman titled "Over There" based on his recent tour of duty in Iraq. But the newspaper has not published any columns by his Democratic opponent, Ken Gordon.
Since August 9, the The Gazette of Colorado Springs has published weekly opinion columns by Republican secretary of state candidate Mike Coffman but has not published any columns by his Democratic opponent, Ken Gordon. Coffman, who temporarily gave up his role as Colorado state treasurer in the spring of 2005 to serve in Iraq, has been writing weekly "Over There" columns in The Gazette based on his recent tour.
Coffman apparently has used his Gazette columns as part of his election campaign, featuring five of the seven on his campaign website. (The columns are available in the website's "newsroom" section.)
Coffman's Gazette columns include descriptions of his service in Iraq in addition to such statements as "I strongly believed that once the United States made the commitment to go into Iraq we had to finish the job" (from his August 9 Gazette column) and "The press characterizes Iraq as having descended into a bloody civil war that has irreparably fractured the country. Nothing could be further from the truth" (from the September 20 Gazette column).
In his August 9 column, Coffman explained that his initial service in Iraq was "as a civil affairs officer to help the Iraqis with their elections." In his August 30 Gazette column, Coffman wrote, "With my elections work finished, I was slated to apply my economic development expertise for the remainder of my tour of duty in Iraq."
Coffman's columns are available in The Gazette's subscription-only online archives:
Once committed to mission, we have an obligation to succeed.
Ceremony for fallen Marine an eye-opening start to duties
Elections put Iraq on path to democracy
Iraq's economy stymied by decades of socialism
Playing cat and mouse along Iraq's 'rat line'
Security measures impact civilian populations
Iraqis making progress toward stable nation
From Coffman's August 9 column:
Now, at age 50, I found myself going through the rigors of a combat refresher course in Camp Lejeune, N.C., in preparation for my deployment to Iraq. This time everything would be different. I would not be going as a combat leader to fight conventional battles against a known enemy, but as a civil affairs officer to help the Iraqis with their elections in the middle of a war fought against an enemy who could initiate attacks at will, then disappear back into the civilian population.
I was not a proponent of the decision to invade Iraq in the first place. I never saw a strong connection between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist attack against our country on Sept. 11, 2001, nor did I see Iraq as a threat to the United States that would rise to the level of justifying a war and occupying the country.
Initially, of course, the conflict went well, with the Iraqi dictator deposed in only three weeks. Certainly, the conventional portion of the war was handled with extraordinary skill and courage so typical of our armed forces. Unfortunately, the planning in the aftermath of the initial fighting reminded me of the analogy of a dog chasing a bus. The dog may catch the bus but won't know what to do with it if it does.
So why did I volunteer to go to Iraq if I was not a supporter of the war? Simple; I strongly believed that once the United States made the commitment to go into Iraq we had to finish the job.
From Coffman's August 30 column:
The parliamentary elections on Dec. 15, 2005, selected Iraq's first constitutionally elected government. It was the last major election in Iraq I would work on. With my elections work finished, I was slated to apply my economic development expertise for the remainder of my tour of duty in Iraq. I was to continue working out of Camp Fallujah, but now I was reassigned to do economic development projects in Al Anbar province, with a focus on the city of Fallujah.
From Coffman's September 20 column:
The press characterizes Iraq as having descended into a bloody civil war that has irreparably fractured the country. Nothing could be further from the truth. No doubt, Iraq is going through a tough phase, but it was widely known that if the foreign fighters couldn't stop the political process from moving forward, they would resort to trying to foment a civil war through sectarian violence.
The violence has been terrible, but at least Iraq's clerical leadership, both Shia and Sunni, are still urging calm despite the overwhelming emotional temptations for revenge. The government has not only held together under these pressures, but it has moved forward in a miraculous coalition involving all major political parties from all of Iraq's religious and ethnic groups. Iraq's first constitutionally elected parliamentary form of representative government has a Shia Arab prime minister, a Kurdish president and a Sunni Arab speaker of the Council of Representatives.
A tip from Colorado Media Matters reader B.G. contributed to this item. Thanks, and keep them coming.