Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Troops Out Now! clinton, edwards, obama

Posted by Warren Peterson on January 24, 2008

The following is taken from the transcript of the CNN South Carolina Democratic debate:

Question: In light of the new military and political progress on the ground there in Iraq, are you looking to end this war or win it?

Answer: CLINTON: I’m looking to bring our troops home, starting within 60 days of my becoming president, …

Answer: EDWARDS: And I have said in the first year that I am president; I will have all combat troops out of Iraq. All combat missions will end in Iraq, and there will be no permanent military bases in Iraq.

Answer: OBAMA: John, what I have said, and I’ve said repeatedly, is I want to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in, but I want to make sure that we get all our combat troops out as quickly as we can safely. Now, the estimates are maybe that’s two brigades per month. At that pace it would be some time in 2009 that we had our combat troops out, depending on whether Bush follows through on his commitment to draw down from the surge.

Answer: CLINTON: What I have said is that I will move as quickly as possible. I hope to have nearly all out within a year. … there is a big problem … and that is President Bush is intent upon negotiating a long-term agreement with Iraq which would have permanent bases, permanent troop presence. … I have been strongly opposed to that. We should not be planning permanent bases and long-term troop commitments.

Oh really? We’ve had permanent bases in Germany, Italy and Japan since the end of World War II and South Korea since 1950. We are still in the Balkans (remember President Clinton saying we’d be out in a year; think that was around 1999). Should we leave Kuwait, close our bases in the Gulf States? Nonsense. The United States maintains bases beyond our borders wherever we have critical national interests. After investing so much of our blood and treasure in removing Saddam and setting Iraq on the path to democracy, however twisting it may be, should we just pack up, leave and hope for the best? Or should we pursue the goal of a democratic, free nation within the Islamic Arab region by providing security, training and stability through military bases in Iraq? Yes, it’s a Bush goal and that is a key reason why the Democratic candidates politically support withdrawal regardless of the consequences for Iraq, the Middle East or the Western alliances.

Ten years or more may pass before a judgment can be made regarding the success or failure of the Iraq War. While a double blind study is not feasible to see which is the better choice, Bush’s plan or the Democratic surrender option, it seems intuitively obvious that the greater risk lies with the Democrat’s approach.

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