Follow up: in 2013, will you pledge there’ll be no US troops in Iraq? Obama won’t bite — says it’s irresponsible to project that far ahead.
[This is a big opening for Richardson. Let’s see how much he chooses to make of it. I’m guessing he’ll do everything he can.]
Now he asks Clinton: you won’t pledge to have all troops out by 2013. Why not?
Clinton says it’s my goal, but I agree with Barack — it’s very difficult to know what we’re inheriting. What is the state of planning for withdrawal? That’s why I asked, and I found that the Pentagon isn’t doing the necessary planning.
Today I joined many of my colleagues in voting in favor of the Biden 3-state plan [I find the sudden ascendance of the Biden plan quite an interesting development -ed.].
Same question to Edwards.
No, can’t make that commitment. I will immediately draw down 40-50,000 troops. But the problem is that we will maintain an embassy, which has to be protected, and we have to protect the humanitarian workers. Edwards tries to draw a distinction between himself and Clinton with respect to leaving combat troops in. Clinton jumps in — says we may need special ops for counterterrorism, but vast majority of combat troops will be out.
Russert asks if Edwards would send combat troops back in if there’s genocide? Edwards says we and everyone else would have a responsibility, but no clear answer to that one. “We need to be preparing for that with the international community now, not later.”
Russert now moves onto Governor Richardson. How can you get them out in one year? (This should be good.)
Richardson says everyone else’s position is to change the mission. My position is to end the war. You cannot start the reconciliation of Iraq and achieve a political settlement (and he also endorses the Biden plan) until you get all of our troops out.
Russert — how are you going to get them out in one year?
Richardson — I’d bring them out through Kuwait and through Turkey. I’d leave some of the light equipment behind. But leaving any troops behind will prevent us from moving forward to secure some kind of stability in the region. I’d invite Iran and Syria, and tie the Iraq issue into the Israeli-Palestinian question. [I’m actually surprised that Richardson didn’t lay into his colleagues more — isn’t that the point of the ad he just released?]
On to Senator Dodd. “We ought to begin the process of redeployment,” along with “robust diplomacy.” But Congress has the power of the purse, and should use it. He *does* pledge to get all the troops out by 2013.
Biden: today we got 75 votes for rejecting the president’s position and to establish a federal system [the Biden plan]. That will end a civil war, and will allow us to bring our troops home. But to say you’ll bring all troops home from Iraq — if there’s no political solution by the time I’m president, I’ll bring them home, because they’re just fodder. If the Biden plan goes into effect, it will end the violence.
And now Kucinich is doing the Kucinich thing…. and now Gravel is doing his “vote every day on cloture” routine.