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Thursday, March 15, 2007

 

No Democratic President will leave Iraq

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, March 15, 2007 permalink View blog reactions
At myDD there is considerable consternation about Hillary's statement that there would likely be a significant military presence in Iraq for the indefinite future.

Now keep in mind I am no fan of Hillary - for reasons mostly relating to Dubai Ports World. My foreign policy prescription is to embrace Islamic liberals, not indulge in xenophobia. But I must respect the fact that Hillary is saying what all the major candidates are thinking.

Now, I am aware that my pragmatic liberal interventionist views on foreign policy are directly opposed to the evolving anti-interventional conventional wisdom here. But I think that no matter your views on the use of military force (as an adjunct to other means!) you must understand the reality.

That reality is that of the major viable candidates - Edwards, Hillary, Obama, Richardson - not a single one will ever fully withdraw all troops from Iraq. (whether thats the right or wrong policy is a matter for debate, but that debate isnt the purpose of this post).

Richardson is a known defense hawk, akin to Gore (who voted for the Persian Gulf War if you recall). His recent speech called for a "new Realism" - which is a nod to the realpolitik of the past. Part of his foreign policy Rx is to increase the size of the military. In his speech at CSIS, he was asked about what to do in Iraq; he said we should "get out this calendar year" butt then followed by a laundry list of things we need to do to secure the civil society and protect Iraq's fledgling government. That means troops.

More details on Richardson's foreign policy views are in the PDF transcript of his speech at CSIS. See for yourself.

What about Obama: from his speech to AIPAC:

My plan also allows for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain and prevent Iraq from becoming a haven for international terrorism and reduce the risk of all-out chaos. In addition, we will redeploy our troops to other locations in the region, reassuring our allies that we will stay
engaged in the Middle East.


Its rather explicit, isn't it?

Let's look at Edwards. The best source is his actual Plan for Iraq:

After withdrawal, Edwards believes that sufficient forces should remain in the region to contain the conflict and ensure that instability in Iraq does not spillover and create a regional war, a terrorist haven, or spark a genocide.


Some more insights into Edwards' thinking can be gleaned from his interview with Ezra Klein.

Finally, let's look at what Hillary actually said:

While Mrs. Clinton declined to estimate the size of a residual American troop presence, she indicated that troops might be based north of Baghdad and in western Anbar Province.

“It would be far fewer troops,” she said. “But what we can do is to almost take a line sort of north of — between Baghdad and Kirkuk, and basically put our troops into that region, the ones that are going to remain for our antiterrorism mission, for our northern support mission, for our ability to respond to the Iranians, and to continue to provide support, if called for, for the Iraqis.”

Mrs. Clinton described a mission with serious constraints.

“We would not be doing patrols,” she added. “We would not be kicking in doors. We would not be trying to insert ourselves in the middle between the various Shiite and Sunni factions. I do not think that’s a smart or achievable mission for American forces.”


Again, I am not interested in debating whether leaving troops in Iraq is wise or foolish. But the fact remains that all the candidates are on the record here.

UPDATE (040307): In response to Matt Yglesias's call for the candidates to better differentiate and defend the differences in their foreign policy plans, Kevin Drum notes that the candidates have "fuzzy foreign policy" and that their plans probably don't really differ all that much.

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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.