Shelby talks Iraq, economy, and politics

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Faster than a speeding bullet it's not, but the accelerated rate of the economy in Butler County and Alabama continues to impress Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) who made his annual trip to Greenville on Saturday.

Shelby visited with supporters early Saturday morning at the Greenville YMCA.

&#8220We're on a roll in Alabama,” he said. &#8220We've been blessed in many ways, but we have to keep going.”

Iraq, said Shelby, and how long the United States will have to commit troops to the rebuilding of that country is the big debate.

&#8220I question why we still have troops in Germany,” he said, noting the U.S. military has had a presence in Germany since the ending of World War II and subsequent division of the country by the Soviet Union and Allied forces. Germany reunified in 1990. &#8220But the next year will tell the story on Iraq. We had such tremendous success when we first went in there, but we have made some mistakes since then. But it's important to me to support the troops. The morale of our soldiers and their families is very important to me.”

At least one of those successes, said Shelby, was the removal of Saddam Hussein as dictator of Iraq. Hussein, captured in 2003 by coalition forces, was executed in December 2006 for crimes against humanity.

Shelby recalled meeting Hussein in January 1990 following the end of Iraq's eight-year war with neighboring state Iran. He and several U.S. Senators traveled to the country and Shelby said his wife, Annette, made a prophetic statement about Hussein:

&#8220She said ‘we have a madman on our hands,'” remembered Shelby. He said his wife had visited the ruins of old Babylon where Hussein was rebuilding the city. Inscribed on bricks was Hussein's name, referencing himself as a &#8220son of Nebuchadrezzar,” the ancient king of Babylon.

Six months later Hussein invaded Kuwait.

Voters will decide on June 5 whether or not to approve Gov. Bob Riley's $400 million incentive package for ThyssenKrupp AG, a German steel mill company looking to locate a plant in Mobile or Louisiana.

Shelby said he knew from his experience with Mercedes Benz in Tuscaloosa that German companies pay well.

&#8220And there's spin offs that could come from thisŠ steel fabricating shops, trucking facilities,” said Shelby. &#8220One thing against us is that Louisiana has the Mississippi River. But Gov. Riley is hopeful we'll be able to get them to locate in Alabama, which would be tremendous.”

Other issues discussed by Shelby:

About No Child Left Behind - &#8220I supported that. It's a good concept. But we don't have enough money funding No Child Left Behind and it's not flexible enough for local school systems to have a say in it.”

About the Democrats taking over control of Congress - &#8220Painful. Elections have consequences. But at least in the Senate the Democrats can't pass anything we don't want them to.”

Alternative fuel - &#8220We could get 80 percent of our power from nuclear energy. The problem is it takes about 15 years to get a nuclear power plant built, due to all of the paperwork and the bureaucracy involved.”