The war in Iraq illuminates one of the greatest contrasts of this election between Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who supports the war, and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who opposes it.
Obama opposed the war from the start, said Eric Marsh, graduate student in mechanical engineering and president of Iowa State University Democrats.
According to Obamas campaign Web site, he would end the war by starting a phased withdrawal of troops that would remove American forces by summer 2010, stating we need to be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in.
Corey Becker, junior in political science and executive director of ISU College Republicans, said withdrawing American troops would pose a greater threat than keeping them in Iraq.
If Barack Obama would withdraw immediately we would risk all of the success weve had in the past five years and all of the soldiers who have given their lives for this cause, Becker said.
McCain opposes the withdrawal of troops from Iraq before the countrys government is ready to lead and protect its people by itself, according to McCains campaign Web site.
Becker said if Iraqs government can stand alone they would be a valuable ally in the Middle East, and a thriving democracy in Iraq would set a precedent for surrounding countries.
If the rest of the countries see that Iraq is vibrant, has a strong economy and is a democracy, I think they may follow suit, Becker said.
Marsh said Obamas plan of setting a timeline and having clear goals is better than McCains plan to stay in Iraq as long as it takes.
Where do we stop? I mean, McCain is talking about a 100-year war. I dont think any of us can handle that, Marsh said.
Becker said when McCain mentioned being in Iraq for 100 years, he was emphasizing the point that they would work as long as it takes to make Iraq independent.
Marsh said another important aspect of the war in Iraq is the impact it is having on the economy and national security.
He said the amount of money the American government owes to other countries is a cause for concern.
In my personal life, I cant buy things that I dont have money for, so I would expect my government to do the same thing, Marsh said. Essentially, us being in Iraq is making us less secure because its making us take out more debt to China.
Becker said McCain doesnt like having a lot of troops overseas, but he is willing to do what it takes to be successful, which means getting Iraq to the point that they can keep the country running when the Americans step out.
He wants the troops back as soon as possible, but he does not want them to come back with the country saying they lost, Becker said.