The newest Democratic ad -- a somber commercial from Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) claiming that he is the only candidate with a plan to end the war in Iraq -- came up as a debate question, and it triggered a spirited back-and-forth over how best to bring U.S. troops home. It was perhaps the most in-depth discussion the candidates have had over their exit plans, and it revealed a field sharply divided, some advocating a quick withdrawal and others favoring one that takes longer and is more cautious.
Richardson has advocated withdrawing troops within six to eight months, and he pressed that view again in trying to draw distinctions with the front-runners.
"We have different positions here," said Richardson, a former ambassador to the United Nations. "I believe that if you leave any residual forces, then none of the peace that we are trying to bring can happen. And it's important."
Biden countered: "If we leave Iraq and we leave it in chaos, there'll be regional war. The regional war will engulf us for a generation. It'll bring in the Shia, it'll bring in the Saudis, it'll bring in the Iranians, it'll bring in the Turks."
Clinton, Edwards and Obama said in effect that they supported Biden's position, cautioning that it will be necessary to leave some troops behind to assist Iraqi forces and Iraqis who have helped Americans on the ground.
Martha notes the above from Anne E. Kornblut's "Democratic Rivals Caution Against Swift Iraq Pullout" (Washington Post). The article is about the Iowa debate. Whether you agree with Biden or Richards, their opinions are consistent. Obama's actually is it's just that most people don't know about it. He's bragged and bragged about being opposed to the illegal war before it started. He's less public since he decided to run for president about being opposed to ending the war or withdrawal. He's made those comments since he was running for Senator in 2004 and they aren't as Chicken Sop for the Soul friendly so they tend to get overlooked as people assume anyone opposed to the illegal war before it began would be someone wanting to end it as quickly as possible.
John Donnelly (Boston Globe) notes the following on Democratic hopeful Mike Gravel:
Mike Gravel, a former US senator from Alaska, objected to the tone of the Iraq discussion.
"Why do we think that we can rule that country?" he said. "This is American imperialism you're hearing up here, and that hasn't worked and it will never work."
And from Javier C. Hernandez' profile (Boston Globe) on Dennis Kucinich that ran this weekend (suprisingly brief when Hernadez claims an hour of solo face time with the candidate):
Kucinich accused the Bush administration of committing a "monstrous crime" by going to war in Iraq, pointing to what he described as hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties and to questions about whether administration officials lied in making the case for war. Kucinich, who has called for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney, said US forces should immediately end their "occupation" of Iraq and said a multinational peacekeeping force should be brought in to help stabilize the country.
"As Shakespeare said: 'Hell is empty, and all the devils are here," he said, quoting from "The Tempest" and referring to the damage the war has inflicted and the "mercenaries" and private contractors working in the region.
Kucinich said he looked to the foreign policy of Jimmy Carter, whom the congressman said was the last president to demonstrate "fluency in being able to deal diplomatically with very serious crises."
China's People Daily Online notes of the debate, "A few, including Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, talked about an immediate withdrawal, while others warned that it would be difficult to mount a swift withdrawal." Mark Geary (KCRG) observes:
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson pushed for a quicker exit from Iraq than the rest of the candidates.
But, the feasibility of his ideas drew some criticism. "The issue is troops there. It's not the timetable. I don't see why we need to keep troops there. All my opponents want to keep troops there, and that's not going to work," Richardson said.
Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich said Americans should trust his judgment because he's the only candidate who never voted for the war.
"If people would have listened to me, we wouldn't have had our troops die. We wouldn't be wasting 1-2 trillion dollars and one million innocent Iraqis wouldn't have perished," Kucinich said.
For those confused, prior to this summer's vote, Obama voted for the already started illegal war once he got into the Senate and did so repeatedly. AFP notes the following:
At the same time, the administration will argue that vital US interests in Iraq require a sustained commitment of US forces, said the paper.
Meanwhile, Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich, who is again running for president this year, urged fellow congressional Democrats to take decisive action and cut off funding for the Iraq war.
"The Democratic leadership of the House and the Senate must finally live up to their responsibility and the promise they made to voters last year to end this war," Kucinich told an annual convention of Veterans for Peace in St Louis, Missouri, on Friday.
That is from their article entitled "Bush avoids US benchmarks in assessing situation in Iraq" and of course Bully Boy's avoiding discussing the 'benchmarks' -- Nouri al-Maliki's 'alliance' last week trashed numbers two and sixteen.
Olive notes Frank Walker's brief story in the Sydney Morning Herald on Iraq Veterans Against the War's Matt Howard who is traveling through Australia and sharing the "horrors being carried out by US forces in Iraq" and call for "a mass mobilisation against the war when President [George] Bush comes for APEC. Let your voices be heard."
And Zach wanted the upcoming September 15th demonstration in the US noted again:
On Saturday, September 15, thousands of antiwar protesters from all over the United States will descend on Washington DC. The protest will coincide with the report by Gen. David Petraeus about progress of the Iraq war. The demonstration will culminate in a mass "die-in" led by Iraq war veterans.
About the September debate in Congress, Representative John Murtha, D-Pa., told the Associated Press, "This is big time," Murtha said, "When you get to September, this is history. This is when we're going to have a real confrontation with the president."
"It will not be a real debate without the voice of the people present," stated Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition. "The eyes of the national and international media will be focused on Washington DC and on the words and positions of the politicians and generals. We are determined to make sure that this so-called debate cannot take place inside Congress without them hearing the voices of thousands of angry veterans, students and working people demanding an immediate end to the war," Becker added.
Those organizing for the September 15th demonstration include the ANSWER Coalition; Ramsey Clark; United States Labor Against the War; Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation; Mounzer Sleiman, Vice Chair, National Council of Arab Americans; Cindy Sheehan; Cynthia McKinney; Veterans for Peace (National); Iraq Veterans Against the War; Tina Richards, CEO of Grassroots America; Rev. Lenox Yearwood, CEO of Hip Hop Caucus; Code Pink; Father Roy Bourgeois and Eric LeCompte, School of Americas Watch; Kevin Zeese, Democracy Rising; Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, co-founder Appeal for Redress; Liam Madden, Pres., Boston Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and co-founder of Appeal for Redress; Malik Rahim, founder of Common Ground Collective, New Orleans; Howard Zinn, Author and Historian; Carlos & Melida Arredondo, Gold Star Families for Peace.
The September 15 demonstration was initiated by the ANSWER Coalition, which has organized most of the large-scale demonstrations in Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities since 2001.
To make arrangements for Interviews with antiwar leaders, organizers, activists and military families, call Sarah Sloan at 202-904-7949. For more information about the September 15 March on Washington, visit www.answercoalition.org.
And Reuters reports two police officers (brothers) shot dead in Baiji, a roadside bombing in Tuz Khurmato claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier, five truck drivers kidnapped in Baiji, a Baghdad bombing killed 3, two corpses were discovered in Mosul, a person was shot dead in Hawija.
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