Iraq and the Big Lie

I have asked how Clinton can say that she will end the war and that she will keep troops in Iraq.  Now I have a question for Edwards on his recent statement. I want to point out just how strange it sounds.  Here's the first sentence.

When we say complete withdrawal we mean it. No more war. No combat troops in the country. Period.

So that means no combat troops in the country, unequivocably.  Or does it?

If John Edwards is president, we're not going to leave the American Embassy in Iraq as the only undefended embassy in the world, for example. There will be Marine guards there, just like there are at our embassies in London, Riyadh, and Tokyo.  And just the same, if American civilians are providing humanitarian relief to the Iraqi people, we're going to protect them. How in good conscience could we refuse to protect them and then allow humanitarian workers to be at risk for their lives or the work not to happen at all? Finally, it's also Senator Edwards' position that we will have troops in the region to prevent the sectarian violence in Iraq from spilling over into other countries, for counter-terrorism, or to prevent a genocide.

But this means combat troops in the country.

Preventing genocide, protecting an embassy, and protecting humanitarian workers are all good things, though whether they are possible at this point is a different question.  But that's not the point of this post.  Having combat troops in country just cannot be reconciled with "No combat troops in the country." These two statements are mutually exclusive.  Period.

Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, and Dennis Kucinich have stepped up and made a choice about Iraq and they should be rewarded for their honesty.  Edwards is still pretending that you can just outright contradict yourself on Iraq and expect no one will notice.  Or maybe he's not pretending, and genuinely doesn't understand that these two statements cannot both be true at the same time.  Regardless, it doesn't matter whether this is a problem of judgment or intelligence.  A contradiction is a contradiction, and Edwards supporters will hold him accountable for this.  We need to end the war, and that means every one of us, regardless of who we support, has our job to do.  Let's end this horse race nonsense, and focus on building a progressive country.  I have given to Obama, Edwards, and Clinton, and I intend to let them know that I'm paying attention to what they say.  Genuine support does not mean blind obedience, and in fact it means the opposite.

So Edwards supporters, you're up.

Update: I should add, to be fair to Edwards, that this is far better than Senator Clinton's plan, though it's something less than Richardson's. I wish there were not such an obvious and open contradiction here, but that's really the fault of the foreign policy 'establishment', which won't tell us the truth about what's really going on and just how bad our strategic situation is.

Update (Chris): Isn't anyone bothered that the first reaction of people to the Richardson plan was to call it naive, and the second reaction has been to attack Matt and msyelf--including smears against Matt--for pointing out that it is a contradiction to say you are going to completely withdraw all troops, but keep some in the country for varying purposes?

There are differences between the varying residual force plans, and those differences are important and need to be noticed. But it just doesn't make any sense to say that you are withdrawing all forces, and then say what the remaining forces will be doing. And no, embassy protection is not a contradiction in the opposite direction. And no, it is not Matt's fault that there is a contradiction in what many candidates are saying .

If candidates want to say they will almost entirely pull out of Iraq, and leave a residual force behind, that would be fine, because it isn't a contradiction. If you think leaving a residual force behind is a good idea, that is at least something concrete, even though I disagree with you. If you would like to see all troops removed, and the candidate you support comes close enough to sharing that opinion for you, that is also a separate issue. But to attack Matt for pointing out an obvious contradiction is unfair to Matt, not to mention probably unfair to whichever candidate you are supporting. Should we next call health care plans that leave 5% of the country uninsured "universal health care," and then defend candidates who make that claim too? How much sense would that make? And to whom would we be doing a service?

Update again (Matt): Some people are raising the point that we have troops protecting embassies all over the world, so having troops in Iraq to protect our embassy would be consistent with that principle. I suppose since this point has come up several times, it's worth rebutting. As a general rule, it's good to have marine guards stationed in American embassies. The exception is when we invade and cause a civil war in a country whose populations hate us and sanction attacks on American troops and, um, embassies.

Tags: Hillary Clinton, Iraq, John Edwards (all tags)



Silliness Abounds.

This is getting silly.

You have their response.

No one has blind obedience.  But you are beating a dead horse, and one you and Chris were wrong about.  Own up to your error.  Region means region.  Parsing words.  Looking for something that is not there.

I an fine with the Edwards Plan.  I am fine with Reid-Feingold.  My prefernce is the Feingold Bill and Woolsey Bill cutting funding.

However, I do not wish to play medieval philosophy with you and parse words some more.  You guys blew it today.  You made assumptions without saying they were assumptions.  And you were wrong. It happens.  No one is perfect.  But you won't let go.  

See you around.  

by littafi 2007-04-11 01:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Silliness Abounds.

Matt. I saw the warning, but I never accused you of posting a falsehood.  I said you were wrong. I have been wrong before also.

I find it very interesting that I have been threatened with being banned.  Wow.

Marine Security Guard Battalion
 Marine Security Guards provide security services to selected Department of State Foreign Service posts to prevent the compromise of classified material and equipment and to provide protection for United States citizens and United States Government property. The Marine Security Guard Battalion exercises command, less operational control, of these Marines, in that it is responsible for their training, assignments, administration, logistical support, and discipline. gency/usmc/msgbn.htm

I would not desribe describe the Marines guarding embassies in London or Tokyo as "combat troops." Perhaps you do.  That we differ does not mean I am accusing you of posting a falsehood.

Again, I did not acccuse you of posting a falsehood.  I would not do so.

I am shocked.  I do not think you would post a falsehold.  I never said that.  I really think that warning should be withdrawn.

by littafi 2007-04-11 01:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Silliness Abounds.

Huh?  I don't think the London or Tokyo embassies are MINI cities?  come on... I think Matt and Chris have a point.

Also, there are going to be Western oil companies there?  Who do you think is going to protect them?

by SandThroughTheEyeGlass 2007-04-11 02:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Silliness Abounds.

I would hope that Chris Bowers does not include my comment as a "smear against Matt."  I do not smear folks.  I would not smear Matt Stoller.  I do not even know him. I have no intent to smear anyone.  At times I agree with Matt or Chris, and at other times I disagree.

I don't understand this day around here.  Full moon?

It appears your position is we should not have guards around the embassy in Iraq.  Do you think we should  remove the enbassy?  If you know, is that the position of William Richardson?

I never said Richardson's plan was naive.  Maybe others did.  My comments here were only to point out that I believed "region" as used in the Edwards Plan meant region, but there is some vagueness.  Language can be indeterminate.

At this point, I do not understand the dispute. But I don't have to.  It is your blog.  I am just a visitor.

Again, for the record, I do not believe I accused anyone of publishing a falsehood.  If it seemed that way to either of you, I apologize.  It certainly was not my intent to do so.  My comment was a bit sarcastic, but no more than hundreds of comments I have see here before.  If I intened to accuse someone of something, I would say it right out.  But it would not be true here.  I think you and Chris interpreted the Edwards Plan as you saw it, but according to the Edwards campaign, your interpetation was not what they meant.

I agree with your intepretation now regarding the embassy.  They do intend to guard the embassy.  I have no problem with that.  I understand you do.  We disagree.  That we disagree does not mean anything more than we disagree.  No implications at all are intended.

by littafi 2007-04-11 02:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Silliness Abounds.

I used the word naive, because I did think that it was naive from a military perspective (as well as naive to believe that Richardson or any other candidate would actually remove every last troop from Iraq right away). so perhaps they meant me. My point here (among several) was not to insult anyone, but to point out that now that Bush has made a holy mess of Iraq, while we certainly should end our active military presence and role in Iraq--i.e. no more overtly combat troops going out to engage the enemy--given the mess we've made there, we cannot simply leave entirely. Not right away at least. We still have troops in Korea and Afghanistan, after all, and no one seems to be calling for their withdrawal (although I do question the role they're playing in Afganistran given that the Taliban appears to be coming back and the country's still a huge mess).

Perhaps I'm wrong and Matt and Chris are right. But I think that we should at least have a debate over this before declaring that this must be official Dem policy and that any Dem who doesn't agree should be held suspect--because that will mean pretty much the whole caucus. Applying purity tests are not a good way to hold onto and extend a party's majority barely half a year into it. Plus, even the "purest" candidate will end up making many compromises once in office. That's always been the case with either party. Clinton was not the exception on our side.

I'm trying to look at this pragmatically. I want the best Dem elected who has a chance at getting elected. Right now, barring Gore's getting into the race, that's 3, maybe 4 people. They all have their flaws, some fairly serious. And while it's certainly fine to criticize them for this or that position, holding their feet to the fire this way is only likely to create deep fissures on our side that will hurt us in the general. I'm not calling for Stepfordesque Kumbaya on our side, just some perspective given what's at stake here. E.g. by and large (if not necessarily entirely) ending our involvement in this war vs. continuing it (more or less as is) indefinitely if a Repub wins. Or two or three new liberal-leaning SCOTUS justices vs. two or three hard-right (or center-right if we hold onto the senate long enough) ones.

The cliche bears repeating: the great is the enemy of the good. Especially when you're just getting back in the game. No, I'm not calling for shameful Clintonesque triangulation, but rather for principled compromise or at least respectful debate. But calling out leading Dems as betraying the cause because they won't withdraw every last troop from Iraq right away just seems self-defeatingto me, and thus naive.

But I do agree that if they're not for 100% withdrawal then they should say so. None of this shell game BS. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Especially after so many years of GOP and DLC lies. I do not ask politicians to agree with me on every issue but I do demand that they level with me.

by kovie 2007-04-13 11:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

Parsing words. On whose part I don't yet know. I suppose that if pressed, they'd say that "combat" troops means troops who are there to proactively engage the "enemy" (whoever that happens to be), whereas "non-combat" means troops who would fight back if attacked, but who are otherwise there to non-combatively defend US personnel, etc. Of course, since they're bound to be attacked, they will, unavoidably, be drawn into combat. But a certain distinction does still exist.

I see it as the difference between combat troops who took part in the Korean War in the early 50's, and non-combat troops who have been posted on the DMZ since the cease-fire and who have not engaged in combat (to my knowledge). Except that the DMZ is a "cold" war zone where such a distinction can be maintained (or has been till now), whereas Iraq is a "hot" war zone where this will be all but impossible. Still, I think there's still a difference, since Edwards et al appear to be calling for the US to end its active involvement in the war. One can of course dispute the soundness of this position, but there is a difference, I believe.

by kovie 2007-04-11 01:34PM | 0 recs
Name Change?

Kovie,I thought you changed your name to
P_ _ _ _  W_ _ _ _ _ _

Was I wrong?

by Progressive Populist 4 Edwards 2007-04-12 05:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Name Change?

E-- S--- A-- D--, Troll. You have nothing of value to contribute here. Come back when you make it to the 6th grade.

by kovie 2007-04-13 11:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

We're crossing over from advocacy into stupidity here.  Put more famously, this is where we become "stupid liberals."

Yes, we want the war to end.  That's the point.  The kinds of purity tests that are being demanded here are no good.

Saying that every candidate must commit now that there will be not one goddamn soldier in Iraq is bad for us and bad for the candidates.  We have soldiers in like 106 different countries.  We are not at war in 106 different countries.  There's a difference between there being any soldiers in country, and there being a War in Iraq that we're a combatant in.  We want to make sure that the second is no longer true.  

If your plan is to go around getting candidates to commit to "not one damn soldier", well, I think that's a bad idea.

by texas dem 2007-04-11 01:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

Agreed.  No purity tests, please.  It's easy to be anti-war online, but its harder when you are responsible for a large portion of global security.

by KickinIt 2007-04-11 02:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

I think it's a given that there will be troops to protect humanitarian workers and the embassies. Whenever humanitarian workers go into a volatile area, they have some assistance whether it's foreign or local troops to protect them. I think that this kind of parsing of words is damaging because it sends the wrong signal. Apparently every candidate has to say no troops no matter what or they're not fully anti-war.

by Sarah Lane 2007-04-11 02:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

According to the Red Cross -- it just doesn't work..


In conflict situations, there has long been a customary distinction between military and non-military domains of endeavour. Recently however, military forces have increasingly become involved in traditional humanitarian activities, including aid for the local population. The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, for example, have seen the military assume a major role in certain types of relief. These military operations for supposedly humanitarian purposes have eroded the dividing line between humanitarian4 and military action (or ``space''),5 a fundamental distinction.
Humanitarians believe this has had a negative impact on their safety. It has caused confusion regarding their ability to come to the aid, in an independent, neutral and impartial manner, of people affected by conflict. Since armed forces are subordinated to a political mission, they cannot be neutral. However, if humanitarians..." htmlall/p0717$File/ICRC_002_0717.PDF!O pen
page 33 pdf

Usually with blurring of the lines, the humanitarian staff - due to huge security concerns are withdrawn.

This discussion is getting crazy...

by SandThroughTheEyeGlass 2007-04-11 03:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

One of the three things are not like the others ... that is, "forces in the region".

I cannot find anything where Richardson has said that he will withdraw all US armed forced from the region. "No residual forces in the country" does not mean "no forces anywhere in any country near to the country".

It actually would not mean "no forces protecting a humanitarian mission" ... but it does limit them. The current occupation force, for example, could not remain on the pretext of protecting a humanitarian mission.

And of course, "no residual forces in the country" would not include not having marine guards at the embassy, but on the other hand during serious negotiations, the current massive compound befitting a modern version of a Roman provincial governor might have to be negotiated away in favor of something more discreet.

But under "no residual forces", the whole occupying force has to pack up and be gone ... whether "combat" troops or combat "trainers" or combat "advisors" or any of the manifold pretenses of American force projection overseas.

by BruceMcF 2007-04-11 08:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

The Iraqis and the puppet government want us out.  Just because we don't get THE MESSAGE in our media doesn't mean liberals should dismiss that fact.

The reason we are going to have troops in Iraq is to protect corporate interests, 'OUR" corporate interests.  If it was purely for security reasons then don't you think by now the Democrats would have started to mention an 'international' diplomacy, peacekeeping and intervention force - to share the burden?

However, if American people want the democrats to carry on their with campaign messages that we can continue this slaughter-fest by ourselves then so be it... personally I think it's madness.

We need to gradually withdraw, starting now.  We screwed up... We wanted the oil, but didn't realize that the natives would rise up, and that others would join in the battle to hit out at the Great Satan.  What has happened with the cry that we are partly causing this conflict?  I don't think the argument has changed?

Unless we triple our forces in Iraqi (can't remember the last #'s quoted), we are just prolonging the slaughter.  As Hartman on the radio said this morning on his show, there is a reason why that all the colonial powers retreated!

by SandThroughTheEyeGlass 2007-04-11 02:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

You're kidding with this, right?  So you think Richardson is going to leave the embassy undefended?

by MassEyesandEars 2007-04-11 01:38PM | 0 recs

To be consistent, Matt, you need to call for the withdrawal of all American "combat" troops from all countries, which would necessitate the closing down of all embassies.

I'm not a military expert, but there's a clear distinction between combat troops and troops whose mission is to protect humanitarian workers or an embassy. It all depends on what the mission is.

You might not like his postion, you might be categorically opposed to embassies and, for all I know, the entire State Department, but there's no contradiction in his statement.

You're smarter than this, Matt. Stop digging.

by david mizner 2007-04-11 01:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

Ok, we should withdraw all combat troops, including those protecting embassies, from countries involved in a civil war we caused.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 01:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

Why don't we just get rid of the whole military why we're at it?

As for me, I have no problem with using the military to defend embassies or humanitarian workers.  I doubt that Richardson would pull forces and leave them unprotected, either.

That said, the position you take on the Edwards clarification is, with respect, rather extreme and contorted, not to mention unrealistic.

We are NOT, after all, speaking about health coverage, so that analogy is quite off the mark.

by citizen53 2007-04-11 02:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

Well most of Europe is heading in that direction.  We could stand to cut some spending since we spend more than EVERY OTHER MILITARY IN THE WORLD COMBINED.

by yitbos96bb 2007-04-11 02:38PM | 0 recs
Come on, Matt

This entire debate derived from the claim that there was an important difference between the position of Edwards and that of Richardson.

Are you telling me that Richardson is opposed to there being an American embassy in Baghdad?

Are you? If there's gonna be an embassy in Bagdhad, there are gonna be American troops there.

So, you're opposed to America keeping an embassy in Iraq? Not a bad position, actually, but no candidate is gonna take it.

by david mizner 2007-04-11 02:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Come on, Matt

No, of course not. The embassay and the forces in the region outside of Iraq were tossed in to make it sound as if there was a laundry list.

And of course, if you asked Richardson to rule out every under any circumstances bringing any troops back in, no matter what the situation, he would not do so. First, he could not responsibly make such an open-ended commitment, and second, if he made such an open-ended commitment, nobody would take it seriously.

Of course Kucinich could do, but then he's not running for President, he's running for a chance to appear at Presidential Debates and Forums.

by BruceMcF 2007-04-11 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

So by that standard you believe there should not be a single troop at the American Embassy in Iraq? That's not going to happen....ever.

by Sarah Lane 2007-04-11 02:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

Matt, in an earlier post I said that I thought you were "demonstrably" wrong about some things.  You asked me to show you an example.  Well, your posts here are a demonstrably wrong.

How so?  Well, you continually imply that there is a contradiction between removing combat troops, Edwards' position, and guarding an embassy.  This is demonstrably wrong.  Look at ANY book on the history of the Vietnam War.  Literally any of them.  The universal statement is that LBJ radically changed the Vietnam War by FIRST introducing combat troops in 1965.  Yet, at the time we not only had troops there guarding our embassy, we also had over 20,000 advisors there too.  Honestly, I dont know what the specific definition of combat troop is, but it obvioiusly does not include personnel that guards the embassy, nor does it include advisors.  

by Andy Katz 2007-04-11 03:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

Somehow I don't think you want to be comparing Edwards on Iraq with LBJ on Vietnam.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 03:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

Somehow I think you missed my point.  This analogy shows that the term "combat troops" is far more exact and limited in scope then what you gave it.

by Andy Katz 2007-04-11 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

No, I got your point exactly, but I don't think you understand your point.  

LBJ put 'advisors' in Vietnam explicitly to avoid telling the public that he was putting troops into a war, even though that's what he was doing.  

If you are saying that Edwards wants to keep armed personnel in Iraq but won't use the word combat troops and relying on LBJ's precedent, then he's playing the same dishonest game that LBJ played in the 1960s.  That's when the term 'credibility gap' game into play, and that's exactly what I'm trying to point out.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 05:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

To say someone doesnt get the point they are trying to make is non-sensical.  You are reading into what I wrote something that is not there.  My only point Matt is that the definition of combat troops is different then what you assume.  And your mis-definition of combat troops, in my opinion, is the basis for your position that Edwards' statement was inconsistent.  If YOU want to argue, which I guess you do, that there is some similarity between what LBJ did and what JE wants to do, fine, obviously you can do so.  In my opinion that is silly to say but whatever.  At any rate, dont put that argument on me.

By the way, your comment that "LBJ put 'advisors' in Vietnam explicitly to avoid telling the public that he was putting troops into a war, even though that's what he was doing" and then claiming that this is where the "credibility gap" came into play is, again, essentially demonstrably wrong.  Almost all, if not every one, of the advisors that were sent to Vietnam were sent by JFK not LBJ.  Johnson may possibly augmented these very slightly, but I dont think he even did that.  Since LBJ was not responsible for the advisors being there, obviously the whole thing could not have been a "plot" by him to introduce combat troops.  As for where the term "credibility gap" came from, I agree it was started because of Johnson's, though I have never seen it tied to a specific incident.  The biggest lie that LBJ told around the time we are talking about was probably  falsifying what happened during the so-called Tonkin Gulf incident. Again though, I always thought the term credibility gap came from the repeated lies his administration told about Vietnam, not a single incident, but I am not sure.

This next thing will sound condescending, but I dont mean it to be.  Have you ever read Stanly Karnow's book on Vietnam?  If you have, did you like it?  For my money, it is the best book on Vietnam.  At least the best I ever saw.

by Andy Katz 2007-04-11 06:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

Maybe I don't understand your point.  It seems to me that you are making the argument that classifications used during the war in Vietnam that in fact did obscure the situation in Vietnam are a useful precedent that Edwards ought to and is following when discussing the war in Iraq.  As such, I am ignorant for not recognizing the distinctions he is making.

I don't think you're being particularly fair to Edwards.  Read his statement.  It's pretty clear Edwards is promising that he will pull all American troops out of Iraq.  If he wanted to use specific terms of art and be precise about leaving residual forces, he could say so easily and more clearly.  His campaign is also quite aware they are talking to an activist audience, and that we are not necessarily familiar with military terms of art.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 08:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

It doesn't really matter what Andy says, what Edwards and his campaign mention is that there will be no in-Iraq training or "advisors" from the US Armed Forces, that should be clear.

The "assistance to humanitarian groups" is something I hadn't heard before, I wonder if Tracy Russo means such groups that might call for US support during emergencies.

by philgoblue 2007-04-11 07:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

JFK, not LBJ inserted the first batch of 18,000 military advisors to Vietnam.

This discussion is getting me dizzy, but that had some meaning for me because it was done the day I was born.  How'd ya like that to be the headline for your birthdate.

Go ahead Matt, compare Edwards to JFK all you want.


Matt, I've been kinda following this from KOS to here, and it's taken several hours to get through all the commentary, your's Chris's and MarKOS's.

Honestly, your losing the argument because you are indeed right -- semantically.  The thrust, that we need to open Overton's window even wider is being lost here.

Take the two most recent examples from the Clinton term.  Kosovo and Somalia.  Do you really want (except for the Overton value) to advocate a result like we have in Somalia with no uniformed Americans whatsoever, or the small footprint we have in Kosovo?

If Iraq's legacy is like Somalia (or helicoptors on the roof of Saigon) we will not do our cause, the progressive, liberal, or even Democratic Party any favors.  If the legacy can be favorably compared to Kosovo, even though we retain an substantial defensive perimeter around the Green Zome and the Kurdistan border, history will greet our influence in this occupation much better.

by Mark Adams 2007-04-11 08:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

Let me go back to my example. I grew up in the shadow of the atom bomb. I was not even in kindergarten when the Cuban Missile crisis took place. It was a big deal when Nixon negotiated SALT-1.

By your reasoning, however, the US was occupied by Russian armed forced and Russian was occupied by US armed forces the whole time, because we each had armed forces at our embassies.

It is entirely compatible to haver no residual forces in the country, and to have armed forces at an embassy, and to have armed forces in the region. Obviously forces stationed outside the country are not in the country, and forces stationed at the embassy are, under international law, not in the country.

So that part of what is labelled a "big lie" has zero conflict with what is supposedly the benchmark position, of no residual forces remaining in the country.

Which means that the claim that the removal of all forces is a "big lie" narrows down to whether this hypothetical humanitarian mission is protected by a new force with a distinct mission, after the current force has withdrawn, or whether its a residual force of the current occupying force.

Admittedly, if John Edwards wanted to make clear that it was not the latter, he would really need to make a statement that made that perfectly clear. I would suggest something along the lines of:

When we say complete withdrawal we mean it. No more war. No combat troops in the country. Period.

That would make it clear to any reasonable reader that any hypothetical future mission is not, in fact, a pretext for maintaining a residual force in the country, because there will be no residual force to perform any such function. They will have been withdrawn.

Oh, wait. He did say that.

by BruceMcF 2007-04-11 09:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

I'm sure that embassy would be a popular posting for consular staff.

This is just ridiculous.  Nobody would ever join the State Department for fear of assignment to, as you put it, any "country whose populations hate us and sanction attacks on American troops and, um, embassies."  Because, as Bill Richardson attests to, it's not the countries with the nice embassy complexes in global economic capitals that are the most important for building peace.

I can't even believe you're making me argue this as if embassies are considered "other countries" and not extensions of our sovereign territory graciously provided by the host countries in the interests of diplomacy.  No, I'm not happy that our embassy in Baghdad is going to be larger than my college campus, but I'm certainly not going to say that we don't need an embassy there, and you and I both know that unless some rough-ass leathernecks are guarding the place, any embassy workers we put there would be sitting ducks.  There's no way that there's going to be an Iraqi force capable of keeping our embassy staff safe for decades, and even if there were it's not a great idea to trust security to people who might be more than a little mad at your country.

by Jay R 2007-04-11 07:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Right
What? Seriously, what?!!

There is no difference between having troops to protect an embassy, and leaving tens of thousands of troops in a country in the midst of a civil war to train local troops, participate in counter-terrorism missions, and "protect civilians."

Seriously, there is no difference between those things, and anyone who thinks there is is contradicting themselves?

Why stop there? I guess it is also a contradiction for Clinton or Edwards to attack Bush at all, because really they just all want troops in the country? Hell, there is no difference between the Richardson plan and Bush, because Richardson wants a few hundred troops to protect the embassy, and Bush wants 200,000 troops scattered around the country.

That is just not fair to Matt. there is a difference between having troops in the country, and embassy protection is not a contraction.
by Chris Bowers 2007-04-11 02:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

No offense, but your statement makes no sense.

If you cannot distinguish the difference between 200,000 troops that are in a country involved in a civil war and 200 troops in a country to protect an embassy that is considered as American territory, what can anyone really say?

The distinction speaks for itself.

by citizen53 2007-04-11 02:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Right
I know. I was asking a question rhetorically to those who thought it was a contradiction to station troops at embassies, which are actualyl American soil, while simultanesouly calling for total withdrawal.
by Chris Bowers 2007-04-11 02:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

I am confused.  Can you better clarify your position on the matter?

by citizen53 2007-04-11 02:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

Tell that to Matt, please.

"Ok, we should withdraw all combat troops, including those protecting embassies, from countries involved in a civil war we caused" is just wrong.

by Jay R 2007-04-11 07:08PM | 0 recs
Maybe I'm so dense

I don't realize I'm being dense, but it sure seems to me like you're guys are the dense ones.

Let me take a step back. I don't love Edwards's foreign policy. I'm to left of all the candidates on foreign policy. I wish he would call for a massive reduction of the American troop presence around the world, including from Iraq, and Matt's position actually isn't a bad one, maybe not even an embassy there.

But that's not the issue: you're pissing us off because of your claim--and let's remember how all this started--that there was an important difference between Edwards's position and Richardson's. Richardson vague statment about "no residual force" got you guys really excited. Fair enough, it's a nice phrase. But do you really believe that Richardson wouldn't leave troops in Iraq to protect the embassy there?

Do you continue to believe, having read Edwards's statement, that Richardson has a different positon than Edwards?

Have you called his office to ask if he is opposed to maintaining an embassy in Iraq? Or maybe I call him.

If he says yes, I will personally apologize to you. If he says, no, he thinks there should be an embassy, you should apologize to Edwards.

by david mizner 2007-04-11 02:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Maybe I'm so dense
Oh for crying out loud, Edwards is calling for more than just embassy protection, and Richardson is not. You keep harping on that, as though having troops to protect an embassy somehow invalidates a total withdrawal plan.

Having a troops to just protect an embassy, which is on American soil, is different than having forces to protect an embassy and also other things like "protect American civilians," conduct counter-terrorism, and train Iraqi troops. Those are different plans. the former advocates total withdrawal, the latter does not.

You keep using the embassy line in much the same way conservatives used to claim that allowing gay people to marry each other opens the door to guys marrying goats. It is a petty, childish argument that is not grounded in the reality of the proposals being put forth.

There is a difference between embassy protection, and a residual force that does more than embassy protection. And that is about as simple as I can make it.
by Chris Bowers 2007-04-11 02:27PM | 0 recs
You seem to disagree with Matt

People keep "using the Embassy line" because it's one of Matt's arguments. He's the one saying that troops protecting the Embassy are troops, period, and he wants them out. Note his latest update:

"As a general rule, it's good to have marine guards stationed in American embassies. The exception is when we invade and cause a civil war in a country whose populations hate us and sanction attacks on American troops and, um, embassies."

It sure sounds to me like even if all Edwards wanted was embassy protection, that is still too much for Matt.

by lapis 2007-04-11 02:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Maybe I'm so dense

I must applaud you and Matt for wading in on this discussion.  This is the most I have seen you guys in the comment section in a LONG time...  Please do it more often, it adds a lot to the convo and propelling the debate.

by yitbos96bb 2007-04-11 02:40PM | 0 recs

so you agree that Richardson woud leave troops there to protect the embassy.

You take Richardson statement about "no residual force in Iraq" an and extrpolate, imputing to him the position that he wouldn't

a. leave troops there to protect an embassy
b. would use troops to protect aid missions
c. wouldn't leave troops in the region to fight AQ and in case the war spreads across the Middle East.

In fact, I'd be willing to bet that he would do all three things. In other words, there is no difference between the position of Edwards and Richardson.

Unless you can show me that Richard wouldn't do either b and c, this argument is over, and you've lost.

by david mizner 2007-04-11 02:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Okay

Richardson has been clear on what he'll do, and he has a strategic rationale for it.

1. Troops Out in 2007: We should get our troops out of Iraq this year. Our continued presence there only enables the Iraqi factions to delay making the hard political choices they need to make to end the civil war.

2. No Residual Forces Left Behind: We must remove ALL of our troops. There should be no residual US forces left in Iraq. Most Iraqis, and most others in the region, believe that we are there for their oil, and this perception is exploited by both Al Qaeda and anti-American Shia groups. By announcing that we intend to remove all troops, we would deprive them of this propaganda tool.

That's pretty clear.  It means no troops in Iraq, and leaves open the possibility of leaving troops in the region.  

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 02:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Okay

You're right, that is pretty clear. Too bad there's no follow-up question on whether he would still have troops to protect an embassy or humanitarian missions and aid workers.

It's clear, but also vague until these other questions are resolved.

by adamterando 2007-04-11 03:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Maybe I'm so dense

Chris, you are implying here that Edwards' positin is to leave combat troops in Iraq to fight terrorists.  That is the Clinton plan not Edwards'.  Secondly, you are adding the training.  Edwards' statement to you said nothing about training.  Since Matt's original post was to say Edwards' statement that he emailed back was contradictory, and that statement had nothing to say about training, why alter his statement to make your argument better?

by Andy Katz 2007-04-11 03:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Maybe I'm so dense

Chris, agreed, there is a difference.  But Edwards isn't saying that he would have troops "conducting counter-terrorism operations" or "training Iraqi troops" from inside Iraq.  That's the point, right?  Murtha.

So again, I think the Edwards campaign has made it clear that by "region," they mean, "not in Iraq" (which was the original point for clarification) and that by "combat troops" they mean everything but embassy protection.

by philgoblue 2007-04-11 08:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Right

Where do you get the "tens of thousands."  Those are your words right?  Where in the post at issue did Edwards say he would leave "tens of thousands" of troops of any description, combat or otherwise, in Iraq.

by Andy Katz 2007-04-11 03:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

I'm not a huge Edwards supporter, but you and Chris have a bug up your nose on this one. (See, for example, Chris's lack of response many of the replies in his initial 'oh, woe is the progressive movement!' post. He was challenged pretty effectively, and let those challenges slide.)

Now you're splitting some pretty fine hairs, here.

Are you gonna ask Richardson's people if 'no residual force' means no embassy guards? You should, because Marines guarding an embassy are 'residual force.' He's a hypocrite!

See how easy that is?

The Edwards statement is pretty splittable, fine,  just like the Richardson statement. But clearly Edwards means something like, 'we won't have military troops engaged in combat duties, but we will have them engaged in non-combat duties. And we'll have combat troops in the region.'

My question for Matt and Chris: why is a residual force in Iraq, if President Dodd or Obama or Clinton--or even Richardson, if things change--upon taking  office feels one is needed, necessarily and inevitably the wrong thing to do? Is it bad even if this residual force is comprised only of embassy guards? Humanitarian relief? What about non-military US gov't workers, working outside the US diplomatic mission?  How do we feel about them if they're advising Iraqis on military matters? What if they're advising on economic matters? Is it only military personnel who must leave?

This is complex, and I fear that you're trying to draw a bright line where none should exist.

by BingoL 2007-04-11 01:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

Matt, now this post is simply completely unrealistic.  BingoL is right on here.

by jc 2007-04-11 01:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie
what are you talking about? I made numerous comments in that thread, and have since put up several posts in response. and I'm not responding because I have a bug up my nose?

And how did this argument turn into an attack on my character and personal activities anyway? At what point did that become fair game in this discussion?
by Chris Bowers 2007-04-11 02:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big "Lie"

At least for Matt, calling someone, anyone, a liar (one who speaks a "big lie") means they ought to have a big tougher skin when they are themselves criticized (though no one has called Matt a liar, people have just stated that he's doing yet more incredible parsing of words and has a fanciful idea that Americans either shouldn't have an embassy in Iraq or shouldn't have a regular marine contingent protecting an embassy which is technically American soil from defensive positions within the territory of the embassy).

by philgoblue 2007-04-11 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

I apologize if you feel that 'bug up your nose' is too harsh and personal an attack. I admire you more than any other blogger, and Matt's a close second.

I just think you're wrong on this one, and I suppose my problem was that you didn't respond to the posts that I felt really challenged your argument. I'll be happy to email you a daily list of which comments you ought to address online. Might really streamline your time.

by BingoL 2007-04-11 02:40PM | 0 recs

more here

by colorless green ideas 2007-04-11 01:39PM | 0 recs

Awesomeness is so last year, it's time for you to move on!

by Sarah Lane 2007-04-11 02:45PM | 0 recs

what's this year then?

by colorless green ideas 2007-04-11 11:27PM | 0 recs

That diary was awesome snark.  It was funny.  We need to keep a sense of humor.  I love Edwards and the diary was great

by pioneer111 2007-04-13 09:21PM | 0 recs
It seems to me

that maybe Matt and Chris, want Obama to step up and lead, to coming out in front, to be the saving candidate.

But, it seems Obama isn't even though they review and throw out their point of options for Obama's campaign to pick up on. But the campaign isn't.

Rather then turn full support to the leader which is Edwards on issues, it seems some what to put a foot on his throat, hold him down so that others (Obama will mature and hopefully catch up)


How long will some wait, when will John Edwards get full and due recognition, instead a little here, a little there, while giving others a chance to do what they should have done in the first place, like a leader would.

John Edwards  has been putting the issues out there, on the table, pushing the others to confront.

That to me is the leader, hands down and no doubt about it.

Edwards 2008, If you what the whitehouse back, and the best leader for today.

by dk2 2007-04-11 01:41PM | 0 recs
Re: It seems to me

Can you repost this and make it a little clearer... its hard to follow.  It sounds liek you had an interesting point, but the grammar and etc makes it hard to read.  Not trying to insult you, just want to understand your points.

by yitbos96bb 2007-04-11 02:42PM | 0 recs
I think you get the Idea, if I have typo's sorry

Just in a hurry was cooking dinner and the main course was burning.
Typos bother some, not me, sorry, fat fingers, old age, in a hurry, and can't half see.


by dk2 2007-04-11 03:04PM | 0 recs
Re: It seems to me

What he's saying is that he thinks that Chris and Matt really like things about Obama, like the progressive organizing he is doing that is bring in the mass amount of crowds, and that they are thus hoping that he will becoming the progressive candidate on issues as well. But, he is not, and so instead of accepting Edwards as the candidate, since he has lead on many issues such as Iraq, Healthcare, and the Fox debate, they keep just giving him pats on the back instead of full out endorsing him in hopes that Obama will eventually step up and bring the vast support he has accumulated with him.

Now, I am not in full agreement with this argument, just attempting to translate it as best I can. But, I will note that when the Catholic blogger scandal hit, Matt mentioned that if Edwards stepped up and supported his peeps (which he did), he would consider supporting him more intensely, and if he didn't the opposite would happen, and after Edwards did step up there was no response on his level of support for Edwards. Not saying I believe there is a conspiracy here or that Matt did that intentionally, but it did bug me at the time.

by JewishJake 2007-04-11 03:07PM | 0 recs
Re: It seems to me

It was Chris that promised to back Edwards.  I certainly have more respect for him now, though, especially after the Fox News bit.  

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: It seems to me

I think that was actually Chris, not Matt.

Matt was already pissed about Iran (or did that come later?).

by adamterando 2007-04-11 03:30PM | 0 recs
Re: It seems to me
This bugged me about Kos and Kerry during the "Use It Or Lose It" campaign. Kos threatened/promised to remember which safe candidates donated to the DNC and which didn't, and after Kerry donated more than anyone else (tying Kennedy), the amount of public support Kos gave him was basically zilch (the flubbed joke blowup doesn't count, since it was an inter, not intra, party fight).
by gsteff 2007-04-11 03:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

The Edwards statement lists two examples of troops that would remain in Iraq: those protecting the embassy and those protecting humanitarian workers.  They're calling those forces non-combat troops.  Stoller calls them combat troops.  If they're combat troops, then Richardson is a hypocrite too, because I'd be willing to accept any reasonable wager that Richardson intends to A) keep an embassy in Iraq, and B) use marines to protect it.  I don't know if Richardson would provide military forces to protect humanitarian workers, but while each of us can define "combat troops" to mean whatever he likes, I don't think most Americans would call those "combat troops."

And whether you like those qualifications or not, I think the Edwards campaign deserves credit for being much more precise about their policy than Richardson has been so far.  Between his Iraq position and his health care plan, Edwards has provided more policy substance than any of the top 4 candidates, I think.

by gsteff 2007-04-11 01:44PM | 0 recs
Well said

The key is that Edwards didn't say that he would leave U.S. troops there to "train" Iraqi forces--that's a clear euphemism for a continued occupation.

by david mizner 2007-04-11 01:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Well said

Now that is an issue worth parsing words over - embassy protection is a clear-cut given, as are forces stationed in Kuwait, etc. But leaving troops for training purposes is, to me, not a withdrawal. It is continued occupation following a different strategy (and hence unacceptable, IMHO).

(and hence, props to Edwards)

by LandStander 2007-04-11 02:30PM | 0 recs
This anti war litmus test

is becoming more and more ridiculous. Not all Democrats agree with Kucinich about war and peace, for good reasons.

"Preventing genocide, protecting an embassy, and protecting humanitarian workers are all good things"

Exactly. So let's do those things.

by Populism2008 2007-04-11 01:44PM | 0 recs
Re: This anti war litmus test
Again, why does the argument require a smear at the beginning of the piece? Now we are all Kucinich supporters demanding purity tests? This entire debate started when Richardson made a case for it last night.

And fine, if you think those are good things, then just don't say you want all troops out of Iraq. Because you don't.
by Chris Bowers 2007-04-11 02:06PM | 0 recs
Re: This anti war litmus test

Now wait a minute Chris, when did he say he wanted all troops out of Iraq? Don't say he is generalizing your views (i.e. Kucinich) and then do the same back.

by JewishJake 2007-04-11 03:09PM | 0 recs
Nail meet head

you nailed it

by okamichan13 2007-04-11 04:16PM | 0 recs
Re: This anti war litmus test

I don't. I want competency again and I want something worked out like in Kosovo. I don't know if that means we need 1,000 troops left in Iraq to protect non-combat people, or if it just means we need 40,000 left in Turkey and Saudi Arabia. But I'm flexible enough to know that I don't know the right answer and the circumstances will have to dictate the solution.

by adamterando 2007-04-11 03:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

It seems you are attempting to parse the words of someone you feel is parsing their words. By your logic, any country where there is a US embassy in the world, by default has "combat troops", simply because Marine Guards are there protecting it. Edwards has had this position for awhile now and continues to say combat troops will leave Iraq, but the US should maintain a presence in the region to keep violence from spreading outward from Iraq (He has most often mentioned existing bases in Kuwait). Does not sound different than what Richardson has said, unless you consider Marine Guards at a US Embassy a "Residual Force"

Edwards Supporter

by beemon 2007-04-11 01:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie


by DrFrankLives 2007-04-11 01:46PM | 0 recs
Touchy touchy

It's your blog, so you can do what you want, but this:

"If you accuse me of stating falsehoods without proof, expect to be banned.

I understand the above warning (posting is no longer allowed until this is acknowledged)."

Is ridiculous.

by DrFrankLives 2007-04-11 01:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Touchy touchy

There are lots of places on the internet to talk.  If you want a place to call me a liar without evidence, MyDD is not it.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 01:48PM | 0 recs

I did not call you a liar.

I pointed out that you have been repeatedly wrong, or at least overenthusiastically critical, of John Edwards.

by DrFrankLives 2007-04-11 02:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

Agree with the other posters. This is just silly and counter-productive. Edwards supports the Feingold-Reid bill which, as I understand it, calls for complete withdrawal. Hillary is the only candidate who seems to want to keep thousands of troops over there after a "so-called" withdrawal. So if you want all the troops out, better to explain why Hillary's position is wrong than to slam Edwards.

by grayslady 2007-04-11 01:47PM | 0 recs
I have to disagree with this.

I haven't picked a candidate yet, though I do really like Edwards.  But the way I read it, this isn't a contradiction at all.  Troops to protect American humanitarian workers and troops to protect an embassy are not combat troops.  They are peacekeepers.

Troops come in many forms.  Combat troops can conduct aggressive maneuvers when deemed necessary.  They can hunt out and chase down fleeing enemies.  They can advance on a line, they can bomb camps, they can go on patrols, they can infiltrate civilian populations suspected of hiding enemies ... in short, they have full and free range of war conduct.

Peacekeepers have only two jobs: self-defense and defense of the defenseless.  They don't go seeking out terrorist cells that are hiding.  They don't push up against enemy lines.  They exist for entirely defensive purposes and cannot fire unless they or their protectorate are fired upon.  A marine guard around an embassy is not an active combat unit, but it can and will return fire and engage when engaged.

Is this better?  You may say not.  You may say that most of what American soldiers do in Iraq today is keep themselves alive, which is largely true.  But they also get themselves into positions that require them to do that because they conduct aggressive maneuvers.  We simply don't know what sort of condition American troops not doing that would be in.

You may also say that from the perspective of an Iraqi, this doesn't look that different.  They're still around, providing convenient, camouflage-wearing targets, so how does it help de-escalate the violence?  I'm not sure at all on that question.  But they're not combat troops proper.

And you may thirdly say that I'm reading his words too generously.  Perhaps I am.  But these sorts of "technically accurate" statements are part-and-parcel of politics.  No matter how idealistic we are or how hard we push, we'll never eliminate such talk entirely.  In such cases, we can only question whether we think the misleading is intentional, and I don't think this is.

Moreover, troops in the region "to prevent the sectarian violence in Iraq from spilling over into other countries, for counter-terrorism, or to prevent a genocide" are not combat troops in Iraq.  These may well be combat troops, depending on the specifics of their orders, but the Edwards campaign, in the sentence directly after you stop quoting, makes it clear that they're not going to remain in Iraq.

by jhupp 2007-04-11 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: I have to disagree with this.
"Peacekeepers" can only exist in a place where there is, you know, peace. Iraq is thus not a place where peacekeepers can exist.

If American civilians are in a country with an ongoing civil war, and America troops are surrounding those civilians as the war rages on, what happens when the American civilians are fired upon? It seems to me, at that point, that the "non-combat" troops would start to engage in combat.
by Chris Bowers 2007-04-11 02:31PM | 0 recs
Re: I have to disagree with this.

If you have to send humanitarian workers into Iraq, would you leave them with no protection? It seems like all non combat troops could become combat at any time, it's just that the troops aren't intended to be combat when their boots hit the ground.

by Sarah Lane 2007-04-11 02:52PM | 0 recs
Re: I have to disagree with this.

Humanitarian workers won't set foot in a country unless there's calm. So by putting combat troops before the humanitarian workers or even at the same time is a little screwy...  cart before the horse -- or something like like?

by SandThroughTheEyeGlass 2007-04-11 02:57PM | 0 recs
Re: I have to disagree with this.

No, this is untrue.  It may be a misnomer, which I will grant you, but there have been UN peacekeepers stationed in places where peace was not remotely present, e.g., Rwanda.  Now, they have been almost stunningly ineffective, but they have been there.  If you're challenging the truth of the possibility, you're wrong.  If you're challenging the wisdom of it, I think you may have a good point.  But that's not what this post was about, and that's not what I was getting at by mentioning the distinction between combat troops and peacekeepers.

And yes, I grant that when Americans are fired on, the troops will fire back.  When that happens, it would be combat, of course.  But there is a line drawn between combat troops as traditionally understood and peacekeepers.  And all I'm getting at is I don't think Edwards contradicted himself because the specific troops he mentioned fit into the latter not former category.  They are not combat-dedicated, if you will.

Again, this may well be a bad idea.  It may, in practice, not produce the best possible outcomes, though certainly they will be better outcomes than what we have and will see with the surgegasm.  If your reason for preferring someone else to Edwards is that you disagree with his Iraq policy, that's a reasonable take.  If you think there are contradictions elsewhere, that's a reasonable take.  But I don't see an inherent contradiction in this particular statement; the troops he wants to leave in the country are not combat-dedicated, so saying he will withdraw all combat troops sounds honest to me.

by jhupp 2007-04-11 02:59PM | 0 recs
Re: I have to disagree with this.

I should add that Rwanda is not the best example ever to illustrate ineffectiveness because the problem wasn't that they were peacekeepers.  It's that there were way too few Europeans, and the Africans were poorly equipped and poorly trained.  So the two groups together amounted to essentially no resistence whatsoever to the Interahamwe.  But there were peacekeepers in Somalia and the Balkans and the Congo, etc.  They have had their successes, but failure has not been rare.

by jhupp 2007-04-11 03:04PM | 0 recs
Re: I have to disagree with this.
The problem wasn't that the peacekeepers were European, it's that they were French. Honestly. The French had been supporting the Hutu Power regime for years, including supplying them with much of the arsenal that was used to perpetrate the genocide. The French ran Operation Turquoise, and they intentionally setup their "safe zone" in western Rwanda, where Hutu Power was strongest, to block the RPF's advance from the east. The net effect was to allow the genocide to occur for a few more weeks by slowing the RPF advance, and to provide cover for Hutu Power to flee into Zaire, where they setup a new power base and continued launching raids for months, eventually leading to the first Congo civil war.
by gsteff 2007-04-11 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: I have to disagree with this.

""Peacekeepers" can only exist in a place where there is, you know, peace. Iraq is thus not a place where peacekeepers can exist."

Come on Chris, you know that that isn't the case. When the U.N. sends troops into areas like the Darfur region, what do they call them? Peacekeepers. Would you consider the Darfur region a "peaceful" area?

by JewishJake 2007-04-11 03:12PM | 0 recs
Re: I have to disagree with this.

Do you think that Iraqi could trust US forces that are one day combat troops and the next day supposed to adhere to a UN peacekeeping mandate?

by SandThroughTheEyeGlass 2007-04-11 03:42PM | 0 recs
Re: I have to disagree with this.

Irrelavent, I was talking about his definition of peacekeepers, which was incorrect.

by JewishJake 2007-04-11 03:51PM | 0 recs
Re: I have to disagree with this.

I think he meant that Peacekeepers can only be effective in place where there is peace, thus, they are ineffective in Darfur.

by Benstrader 2007-04-11 03:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

Heh, if we're super-parsing, the US Embassy is technically US soil, so Marines based there would not, in fact, be in Iraq.

by Kimmitt 2007-04-11 01:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

I was waiting for someone to make that point!

And speaking of embassies, the US one in Iraq was touted as being the largest and most glorious embassy every constructed (wonder who got that deal?).

by LandStander 2007-04-11 03:06PM | 0 recs
Term of Art

I may be wrong, but my understanding is that "combat troops" is a term of art that's distinct from the type of troops that Edwards' is talking about in his statement.  If that's accurate, then i don't think there's anything inconsistent about what he said.  

Also, just to be clear -- don't want to be banned -- I'm simply offering a different interpretation of the statement.  Not saying anyone is lying about anything.  

by HSTruman 2007-04-11 01:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Term of Art

It is also my impression that the phrase "combat troops" has a much more specific meaning than we have been giving it.  Specifically, I think Stoller's argument that Edwards has clearly contradicted himself may rely on an interpretation of "combat troops" that is not the term-of-art interpretation, which I don't know and which I'd assume Stoller doesn't know.

by texas dem 2007-04-11 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

Oh, c'mon, does anyone actually truly believe that whomever is president in 2009 is going to have zero military personnel in Iraq or the surrounding areas?

Richardson can say that all he wants but it's not gonna happen even if he's the president.  

You CAN stop this war AND have humanitarian workers and embassies protected.  And, yes, perhaps even have a force within striking distance (but outside of the country's borders) to defend Iraq if they are attacked by Iran.  Normally, I'd say fuck that, but we broke Iraq and now cannot leave it vulnerable to Iran.  And whoever is president will not allow Iran to pour into Iraq after all this.  

Yes, Richardson should be commended.  But Edwards' position is certainly anti-war.  To imply that Richardson is the only realistically electable choice for anti-war voters is wrong.

by jgarcia 2007-04-11 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

Oh, c'mon, does anyone actually truly believe that whomever is president in 2009 is going to have zero military personnel in Iraq or the surrounding areas?

Surrounding areas, yes.  In Iraq, no.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 02:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

"To imply that Richardson is the only realistically electable choice for anti-war voters is wrong."

Good point.

It's easy for Richardson to say something with 100% certainty now.  Nobody is going to hold him to it.  If he were actually President I doubt he'd do anything differently than Edwards--looking at their two statements.

by KickinIt 2007-04-11 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Chris's update

I don't think Matt deserves to be attacked.  I just think he's wrong here.  The campaign is drawing a distinction between combat troops and any troops.  The former is a subset of the latter.

by jhupp 2007-04-11 02:01PM | 0 recs
this isn't about edwards/obama, it's about truth

After the tragic example of the last 6 years, Chris is right to demand total clarity from our candidates on issues of war and peace. This is an absolutely essential part of the process. Also, we should no longer accept rhetorical excess in this area, of which the Edwards and Obama (not to mention Clinton) campaigns may be guilty. We have to hold these people to the highest standards of truth. When we argue about policy positions, we have to know exactly what those positions are, otherwise we're just engaging in the personality politics mentioned earlier.

by arbitropia 2007-04-11 02:04PM | 0 recs
Re: this isn't about edwards/

Thank you for making this point.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 02:05PM | 0 recs
Re: this isn't about edwards/obama, it's about tru

Somehow I have the sense that if Matt or Chris were charged with the responsibility of being President, they would not be adopting such a dogmatic position in this matter.

by citizen53 2007-04-11 02:13PM | 0 recs
Re: this isn't about edwards/obama, it's about tru

Somehow I have the sense that if Matt or Chris were charged with the responsibility of being President, they would not be adopting such a dogmatic position in this matter.

Why is it a dogmatic position to ask candidates to stop contradicting themselves?  This cult of personality stuff needs to stop.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 02:15PM | 0 recs
Re: this isn't about edwards/obama, it's about tru

Maybe dogmatic was the wrong word, but I agree with the sentiment.  Presidents have to have some wiggle room.  Who knows what the situation will be in January 2009.  President's are leaders, not simply enactors of campaign promises.

by KickinIt 2007-04-11 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: this isn't about edwards/obama, it's about tru

Oy. I think you're a little bit out in front of yourself.  

First, as above, are you sure you know what precisely "combat troops" means?  Because I think your allegation that Edwards has contradicted himself rests squarely on your interpretation of the phrase "combat troops," and I think it probably has a more precise meaning than you've shown that you're aware of.  Maybe you are aware of the precise meaning (I'm not) but you haven't shown your work if you are.

And even if we concede that Edwards is contradicting himself, which I don't concede, there are reasons for giving him a pass other than "cult of personality."  (By the way, accusing people who disagree with you of falling victim to a "cult of personality" or "Dear Leader syndrome" is insulting.)  There are other valid reasons to deliberately give candidates a pass on certain types of political rhetoric.  If we want their stump speech to sound like something other than the end of a prescription drug ad, they're going to need to be allowed to make simple clear statements that do have some caveats that are explained elsewhere.  "I'm going to end the war [but leave troops at embassies and blahblahblah]" makes a shitty 30-sec ad.   Obviously one can go overboard with the "simple clear statements", but there's valid reasons to think that Edwards's, for instance, is a permissable "contradiction."

Anyway, those aren't even my reasons for thinking this whole episode is offbase.  But, the idea that all of your opponents are victims of a cult of personality, while you are cleareyed, is a little annoying.  If people are disagreeing with you, it might be for reasons other than Hero Worship of Edwards.

by texas dem 2007-04-11 02:37PM | 0 recs
Re: this isn't about edwards/obama, it's about tru

This is a dodge.  The campaign sent a statement to Chris explicitly to explain how Edwards would end the war.  If he's using jargon-y language to imply that he will keep troops in Iraq, but pretending that combat troops are different from non-combat troops, both of which are fighting Iraqis, then he's being deceptive.  Remember when Kerry voted for $87B before he voted against it?  I don't want to rerun the Kerry campaign.  Do you?

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 02:42PM | 0 recs
Re: this isn't about edwards/obama, it's about tru

I think there's a big difference between combat troops on the ground and non combat troops to protect an embassy or humanitarian workers. I don't think he's being deceptive at all, it's just common sense. Edwards wants all combat troops out of Iraq, but will leave non combat troops to protect the American embassy. There's a difference when you put boots on the ground with the intention of fighting and boots on the ground with the intention of protecting an embassy.

by Sarah Lane 2007-04-11 02:59PM | 0 recs
Re: this isn't about edwards/obama, it's about tru

Again, I agree with this 100%.  There is, in my opinion, a good chance that Matt is creating a discrepancy because he does not know the precise definition of combat troops.  I dont either, but as I mentioned above, there is universal agreement that we brought combat troops into Vietnam in 1965 at a time that we had over 20,000 military personnel there, mostly training.

And that fact that these military trainers were embedded with the SVA and came under and returned fire did not majically make them combat troops.

by Andy Katz 2007-04-11 03:19PM | 0 recs
Re: this isn't about edwards/obama, it's about tru

I agree with you in general, but like Matt said, you probably shouldn't be comparing Edwards to LBJ.

by clarkent 2007-04-11 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: this isn't about edwards/obama, it's about tru

Show me where exactly I compared Edwards to LBJ, or anyone for that matter.

by Andy Katz 2007-04-11 03:24PM | 0 recs
Re: this isn't about edwards/obama, it's about tru

I just meant that you had brought up US advisors in South Vietnam as a model. That's not a good one.

by clarkent 2007-04-11 03:41PM | 0 recs
Re: this isn't about edwards/obama, it's about tru

I should let this go but I hate it when something I said is misinterpreted.  I did not say SV was a "model."  I was merely using that as an example to help define what is and is not "combat troops."

by Andy Katz 2007-04-11 03:46PM | 0 recs
Not in a War Zone

In general I would agree, but when it comes to Iraq, there is no way that American diplomats or humanitarian workers can operate in anything other than combat settings. How wouldn't the U.S. Embassy be constantly targeted by insurgents/Al Qaeda? I don't think that there is any possibility of having a safe embassy in Iraq without highly trained combat troops.

by Benstrader 2007-04-11 03:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Not in a War Zone

The same can be said about numerous countries that have civil wars and people who don't like us (Afganistan?). Should we abandon all of those? Or, should we realize that protecting our Embassy, which is American soil by the way, would not be the same as intentionally sending troops into areas for combat.

by JewishJake 2007-04-11 03:39PM | 0 recs
What other countries...

Have we invaded, occupied, and served as the catalyst for a civil war?

We (NATO) are fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, not babysitting a civil war.

If you don't think that Iraq presents a much different situation to the U.S. than other countries, then we're not going to see eye to eye. But I think protecting the U.S. Embassy in Iraq is a much different situation than protecting our Embassy in Belgium.

by Benstrader 2007-04-11 03:47PM | 0 recs
Re: this isn't about edwards/obama, it's about tru

This doesn't feel to me like Kerry's $87B situation -- which was only a big problem because of the clumsy way he explained it.  Edwards has made a pretty clear statement about this.  No combat troops.  I confess that I can't define 'combat troops' precisely, but I'm comfortable that I know what it means. And I have no problem with leaving some US troops in Iraq to safeguard the embassy or U.S. humanitarian groups if there are any -- and I hope there will be U.S .groups there trying to help the Iraqis rebuild what we have helped destroy.  I actually don't even have a problem with a limited number of US troops doing training, and that doesn't seem like a'combat' job to me.

Edwards has made it fairly clear what he means.  Richardson has not defined his position to quite that extent, but I don't think there is a dime's worth of difference in the two right now.  I think it is completely responsible to have some US troops remain in Iraq for the functions that have been discussed.  I would even hope that they could be part of a truly international force, and even better if the internationals were handling security for aid workers.  The fewer US troops in visible positions the better, no question.  And, having stirred up this hornet's nest, I think it is quite reasonable to leave a US troop presence in the region.

So, I'm ok with some troops in Iraq, say 2000 or so, and more in the surrounding area.  I don't demand that all of our troops be withdrawn immediately and we don't even have an embassy.  I am against those permanent bases, no question.  So, the Richardson and Edwards positions seem quite acceptable to me, I'm not sure of Obama's position, and I think Hillary does not go nearly far enough in reducing our presence.

You seem to feel that it is important to get completely out of Iraq.  I don't hear either of these candidates actually saying they would do that.  For myself, I want most of the troops gone and the ones that are left in roles that are helping Iraquis rebuild their country.  We owe them that.  After some reasonable time, if we are still doing more harm than good, then we should get out completely, embassy and all.

That's just what I would like.  

by Mooncat 2007-04-11 03:52PM | 0 recs
Cult of Personality?

I don't know where you got that from.

All I know is that it's easier to coach from the stands or drive from the back seat.

Perhaps if you had to actually think about what it would be like to be President than you might understand that distinctions are necessary in the use of military forces, that not all forces are combat forces.

Richardson was totally vague about the issue of who might stay.  Perhaps you should query his campaign.

No disrespect, but I think you are being unrealistic, and your "cult of personality" claim is without foundation.  As you know, the one running on personality at this point is Obama.

by citizen53 2007-04-11 02:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

thanks to chris and matt for pushing this.

there's a lot of pressure on candidates to speak in ways that can be interpreted in different ways by different people (so we can all hear what we want to hear).  not blaming anyone here... it's just what happens.

the occupation is too big a deal to let that happen.

by selise 2007-04-11 02:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

I see that supporters of the other candidates are wisely staying out of this forum.  But fellow Edwards supporters, please do the same.  Just move on, let this forum slip to the bottom.

If the US has an embassy in Iraq, there will be US troops there.  I would take "in the region" to mean Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, maybe Northern Iraq where the US is mostly welcome by the Kurds.  If the US is providing humanitarian aid, those workers should be protected.

But the US military should not continue training the Iraqi forces, and should pull out all designated "combat troops" as well (meaning offensive combat soldiers).

Richardson made a great statement.  No residual forces.  Someone should ask him to clarify.  Will the Embassy be protected?  Will we give humanitarian aid to Iraq?  Will they be protected?

by Vox Populi 2007-04-11 02:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

All I will say is that Edward's statements do seem contradictory, but as general policy, I don't really have a problem with it.  As long as the numbers are tiny (Not Clinton's 75,000 number that was floated around) then I'm not to concerned as long as the VAST VAST VAST majority of combat troops are out.  Just to clarify though, personally, I think the US needs to leave completely until the civil war is completely resolved and then they can offer assistance, etc.  But I am willing to support most of the candidates positions (Dodd, Kucinich, Richardson, Obama, Edwards, etc) except for HRC unless she clarifies or reduces the force to next to nothing.  

by yitbos96bb 2007-04-11 02:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

Chris, re the update - to call troops that protect embassies "combat troops", is simply a wordplay, and Matt rightly got called on it.

Basically, Matt is saying, "no embassy in Iraq".  That's fine, but, if you have an embassy, then of course you have troops.

I think you sum up the crux of the matter with this:

"If candidates want to say they will almost entirely pull out of Iraq, and leave a residual force behind, that would be fine, because it isn't a contradiction. If you think leaving a residual force behind is a good idea, that is at least something concrete, even though I disagree with you."

You phrase that well.

If I can suggest, as I've said for the 4th time in 5 days, there HAS been an ongoing debate in liberal foreign policy circles, on what a residual force would look like, and the pluses and minuses.  You most likely haven't been paying attention to those debates, but have simply been operating on the assumptions of a full pullout.   But a lot of us who advocate pullout, haven't made a big deal out of the distinction between "full pullout" and "almost full pullout", seeing the two as strategically the same for U.S. interests, and the renunciation of our occupier status in Iraq.

by jc 2007-04-11 02:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

If I can suggest, as I've said for the 4th time in 5 days, there HAS been an ongoing debate in liberal foreign policy circles, on what a residual force would look like, and the pluses and minuses.

This debate is happening, but it's not happening in the context of 2008.  Very few elites are willing to call out the different candidates on this point because they are afraid of losing influence or future job prospects.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 02:13PM | 0 recs
Keeping some troops in Iraq

Does not mean we are still at war in Iraq.

This is why blogs are marginalized.

They marginalize themselves.

by Stewieeeee 2007-04-11 02:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Keeping some troops in Iraq

If there are US troops in Iraq there will be fighting.  I assume Matt is suggesting we remove everyone from Iraq entirely.  No more soldiers, no more contractors, no more diplomats, nothing.

We destroyed their country and need to remove everything American from it.  That's pretty much what Richardson said.

They are just wanting Edwards to be clear of his intentions, will there be a troop presence and what will those troops be used for, or will there be a complete withdrawal.

by Vox Populi 2007-04-11 02:19PM | 0 recs
No there won't

There will be fighting between the shia and sunni of course but americans will no longer be involved in that fighting.

This is apparently impossible for some people to understand.

And I don't get it.  Cause there is certainly nothing to be gained in the middle east by blurring this very obvious distinction.

And there is certainly nothing to be gained politically by continuing to blur this very obvious distinction.

Do I just need to repeat it over and over again the way bloggers do?

There will be fighting between the shia and sunni of course but americans will no longer be involved in that fighting.

There will still be fighting between the shia and sunni of course but americans will no longer be involved in that fighting.

it's really as simple as that.

by Stewieeeee 2007-04-11 02:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big "Lie"

So, are Matt and Chris conceding that "region" means the "region, not including Iraq," which was the original qualm?

by philgoblue 2007-04-11 02:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big "Lie"
"And just the same, if American civilians are providing humanitarian relief to the Iraqi people, we're going to protect them. "

That is the point where the contradiction occurs. How many troops will be staying in Iraq to protect American civilians? Where will they be stationed? What authority will they have to engage in military action?

You can disagree with Matt and I calling for pullout of all troops (save embassy troops), but you have to admit it is a contradiction to pull out all troops and still say some will remain in the country to do things besides protect the embassy (which is actually American soil).
by Chris Bowers 2007-04-11 02:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big "Lie"

"but you have to admit it is a contradiction to pull out all troops and still say some will remain in the country to do things besides protect the embassy (which is actually American soil)."

But that's the point of distinguishing between combat and non-combat troops!

by adamterando 2007-04-11 03:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big "Lie"

I agree with you there, the protecting Americans providing humanitarian relief is something I hadn't heard before.  I can't find it in any other statement, though I would suggest that that is general US SOP in most countries.

But I think your leap is where he say that those troops would be on Iraqi soil.  I think the more likely answer is that they would be "over the horizon" in the bases that the campaign mentions that already exist in Kuwait and the UAE.

by philgoblue 2007-04-11 08:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big "Lie"

Edwards' position that we will have troops in the region to prevent the sectarian violence in Iraq from spilling over into other countries, for counter-terrorism, or to prevent a genocide. But in the region means in the region - for example, existing bases like Kuwait, naval presence in the Persian Gulf, and so forth. I hope this helps explain Senator Edwards' position. Thanks for standing up for what we all believe in.  

This is the Murtha plan, I can't for the life of me figure out why you two want to spend the entire day parsing words.

by philgoblue 2007-04-11 02:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

I'm really confused.  Are you advocating that we leave the American Embassy in Iraq unguarded by American troops, or saying that we shouldn't have an American Embasssy in Iraq, since it would require troops?

by Transmission 2007-04-11 02:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

Is there a functioning Embassy there now?  If not, then its best to not put anyone there until its all settled and the civil war is over.

by yitbos96bb 2007-04-11 02:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

I think the embassy is basically the green zone. It's the only safe place in Baghdad.

by adamterando 2007-04-11 03:42PM | 0 recs
Until the combat troops leave...

Then it's Saigon all over again.

by Benstrader 2007-04-11 03:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Until the combat troops leave...

Well, except there's no nationalist forces that have the support of the majority of the population.

So I have no idea how this would play out. Maybe we should shut it down. Maybe not. It's as people (and Edwards?) say, there's only bad choices. Anything we do is going to suck. We just have to try to do the thing that will result in the least loss of life.

by adamterando 2007-04-11 03:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Until the combat troops leave...

I agree. And the way I see it, if it is a shitty situation with American troops there, and a shitty situation if they are not, we should take the latter and bring our troops home.

by Benstrader 2007-04-11 04:11PM | 0 recs
The Embassy Evacuation?

Maybe some of the Democratic candidates are nostalgic for that Saigon embassy helicopter evacuation and want a repeat? :-(

Let's get real here. How do you maintain anything resembling a functioning embassy in the middle of a raging civil war? Anybody visiting the embassy would be murdered just after leaving.

by BBCWatcher 2007-04-11 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: The Embassy Evacuation?

Then you have to question what are they going to do with those 122 acres?

by SandThroughTheEyeGlass 2007-04-11 02:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

Since Embassies are actually US territory, TECHNICALLY, having Marines in an Embassy would not be leaving them in Iraq... they would be on US soil.  Of course, I'm sure this doesn't make a bit of difference to the insurrgents, but it is a point of distinction.

by yitbos96bb 2007-04-11 02:27PM | 0 recs
Have Y'all Asked Richardson

If he means to abandon the US embassy in Baghdad?

Have you asked him to clearly and fully define "residual"?

by philgoblue 2007-04-11 02:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Have Y'all Asked Richardson

Yes, I asked.  We'll see what he says.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Have Y'all Asked Richardson
So, if Richardson is calling for embassy protection, according to you that means he would leave a residual force? And since Richardson is leaving a residual force, then really he is no different than any of the other candidates on Iraq, since all residual forces are the same?
by Chris Bowers 2007-04-11 02:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Have Y'all Asked Richardson

No.  Two seperate questions.

Y'all are being very careful with the wording for Edwards, so I think you ought to do that with the candidate you have set up as being different, that's all.  Basic fairness.

"residual" is a vague term.

by philgoblue 2007-04-11 08:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Have Y'all Asked Richardson

Yes, notice Richardson did not say "no troops". He said "no residual troops".

That could mean that there are no troops above a level that were there in the 1980s (doubtful). Or it could even mean just no extra troops above a level he deems necessary for the safety of embassy and, dare I say it, humanitarian groups.

Looking at the statistical sense, residual means the some value left over after producing some sort of baseline (regression line, average, whatever).

So does residual in this case mean that there is a baseline Richardson deems necessary and we don't allow any "residual" troops above this level?

Sigh.....this is what happens when we get into parsing words.

by adamterando 2007-04-11 08:54PM | 0 recs
say what?

So... if there are countries whose people hate us... we shouldn't have troops guarding those embassies? But we should have Marines guarding the embassies where we're loved? WTF?

by jforshaw 2007-04-11 02:31PM | 0 recs
Re: say what?

This is getting ridiculous.  There is a difference between popularity in a country and causing a civil war where millions of people of that country die.  There's also a difference between being unpopular and widespread popular support for killing American troops.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 02:34PM | 0 recs

Why do you think it will be impossible to extricate all combat troops from the civil war while leaving some troops in Iraq for other, discreetly different purposes?

If your reasoning behind this is self-fulfiling tautology, it is cause it is, well. ... And your attitude is all "if you can't see it, i won't waste my time,... "   ppffffft.  you lose every where else but in an echo chamber.

If there's some reasoning behind it, I totally missed it.

Maybe a full entry is a good idea.  One devoted to your assumption that leaving some troops in Iraq means continuing the war.

First, define the war.

Then prove your thesis.  Then it will no longer be an assumption.

by Stewieeeee 2007-04-11 02:52PM | 0 recs
Response to Chris's update
the second reaction has been to attack Matt and msyelf--including smears against Matt--for pointing out that it is a contradiction to say you are going to completely withdraw all troops, but keep some in the country for varying purposes?

No, that's an inaccurate description of what Stoller said. This is what Stoller said:

Having combat troops in country just cannot be reconciled with "No combat troops in the country." These two statements are mutually exclusive.

Edwards didn't promise to remove all troops from the country, and Stoller didn't accuse him of contradicting that. Edwards promised to remove all combat troops from the country, which is what Stoller accused him of contradicting. This was a dangerous accusation to make in the first place, since this was a formal statement released by professional PR people about the most prominent issue of the campaign; it's not likely that they'd accidentally contradict themselves in it by overlooking something. Any problem with would have to be found by parsing words, and if you guys insist on being language lawyers about a statement you didn't like, you shouldn't act surprised when your statements about it get the same treatment.

by gsteff 2007-04-11 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Response to Chris's update

Edwards didn't promise to remove all troops from the country,

Here's the statement.

When we say complete withdrawal we mean it. No more war. No combat troops in the country. Period.

That's pretty thin.  And then there's this.

And just the same, if American civilians are providing humanitarian relief to the Iraqi people, we're going to protect them.

How, exactly, is he going to do this without combat troops?  Is he going to do it with non-combat troops that happen to have guns to engage in non-combat with Iraqis that also have guns? Are they going to use special peace bullets or something?

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 02:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Response to Chris's update
I think that's a decent point... if you're going to say that combat troops are the ones with guns, and non-combat troops are the ones without guns, then any protective force means combat troops. Evidently, the Edwards campaign defines the term differently, and they're probably using it as a specific "term of art" as mentioned above. I think it's unfortunate that Edwards is, predictably, getting put into a tough position for providing more policy details than any other candidate has offered, but I'd guess that, if pressed, Richardson would be happy to say that he won't allow troops of this nature.
by gsteff 2007-04-11 02:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Response to Chris's update

Gsteff, that would be specifically WHY the other candidates avoid giving specifics. No specifics = no details to attack. Also no real clue what they'd actually, like, ya know, do... but hey.

Obviously, I'm an Edwards supporter. To me, this is a real 'forest for the trees' bit of silliness. Also, being a writer as both Matt and Chris are, I am well aware of the foibles of the Emglish language -- it is well-nigh impossible to write or say anything that cannot misunderstood or misconstrued.

I made the opportunity to speak with the Senator back when it was still possible to attend a small, intimate gathering. (Glad I did!) When asked about the Iraq war, he called it (not a direct quote here, guys -- just my best recollection!) illegal, unethical, immoral, and wrong. Took full responsibility for his vote, without even resorting to the (valid) excuse that he (and the rest of us) got lied to. Has said repeatedly that military force is not going to provide a solution in Iraq, has said repeatedly that invading Iraq was a complete betrayal of who and what we are and should be as a country.

So am I going to split these kinds of hairs? No. I absolutely believe in his commitment to diplomatic, non-military solutions, to getting us out of Iraq, to dismantling the unsavory torture/invade/shoot and pillage apparatus that has been erected under the current administration. And I believe 100% that of the 'big three', Edwards is the only one I trust absolutely not to use our military to protect oil interests in Iraq.

by NH4JRE 2007-04-12 09:00AM | 0 recs
You are imposing your definitions

onto Edwards positions, and then holding him responsible for lack of clarity.

Why is it so hard to understand that he obviously has a different understanding of what are considered "combat troops"? And he even explained the difference by giving two examples.

How could he be any clearer? Again, disagree with him if you like, but deception? When he mentions specifically why a few might stay?

by okamichan13 2007-04-11 04:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Response to Chris's update


I hate to use caps, but I'm not sure why you're assuming that that "protection" has to come from inside Iraq.

by philgoblue 2007-04-11 08:11PM | 0 recs
For a democratic victory or not?

Any candidate who says we will absolutely positively have no troops in Iraq ever under any cirucumstances would be a complete idiot. Al-queda? who cares. humanitarian help? who needs it. Embassy? naw, thats for warmongers.

Its a pretty much guaranteed way to lose the election, and not only that, would be an irresponsible position for any future commander-in-chief to take unless the person has a crystal ball. You thought the weak on terror argument stuck well in 2004? Taking a fantasy land purity position like this would be like wrapping a big present and putting it right at the feet of the Republicans.

Basically the straw man argument assumes that once the US leaves our problems will just disappear and whatever happens in Iraq after that just doesnt matter is an idealistic fantasy.

Instead of Edwards caving to fit some ideological purity test that is irresponsible and would cost him the election, i'd much rather him tell it like it is and act like a president.

by okamichan13 2007-04-11 02:38PM | 0 recs
Re: For a democratic victory or not?

Instead of Edwards caving to fit some ideological purity test that is irresponsible and would cost him the election, i'd much rather him tell it like it is and act like a president.

That's a fine position to take, but then demand that Edwards he's keeping a residual force in Iraq, rather than pretending that he'll withdraw all combat forces while keeping troops in Iraq.  

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 02:44PM | 0 recs
Edwards is making a distinction

between what combat and non-combat is. You obviously disagree with him - for you there is no distinction it seems.

How is he pretending anything? he is very clear about it. you are being disingenious and unfair here.

by okamichan13 2007-04-11 02:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards is making a distinction

There is no distinction in a war zone. Even if these are non combat troops, what happens when they come under fire on a daily basis? Do we reinforce with combat troops or withdraw the force?

As long as there is any American presence in Iraq, combat or non combat, we will be at war.

by Benstrader 2007-04-11 03:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards is making a distinction

This is not relevant, as we are talking about whether or not Edwards contradicted himself. If his definition was that of the previous person, then he didn't contradict himself, and Chris and Matt said they are not attacking his position, merely the contradiction evident in it.

by JewishJake 2007-04-11 03:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards is making a distinction

Point taken, but in his first line is "No more war."

I am not very interested in the contradiction, or Edwards position in general, but in what is the best way forward in Iraq, and I believe this invasion and occupation has pushed us to the point where Americans can not operate in any capacity without high likelihood of being attacked, thus, I don't know how we do anything there without combat troop protection. That's the only point I'm trying to make.

by Benstrader 2007-04-11 04:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards is making a distinction

I agree...

by SandThroughTheEyeGlass 2007-04-11 04:10PM | 0 recs
Following that reasoning

we should remove all of our troops throughtout the world any time there is a threat of violence and probably shouldnt have any forces outside of the US.

But the point Stoller keeps saying he is trying to make about deception just doesn't hold water. What he is doing is creating a deception based on the straw man of his beliefs and imposing it on Edwards.

The reality beyond all the semantics is Edwards has made his position crystal clear. Argue with him on that if you will not on a made-up contradiction based on taking one section of a statement out of context.

by okamichan13 2007-04-11 03:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Following that reasoning

Iraq presents a situation different than any other in the world, and yes, if any embassy in the world faces the kind of violence our embassy in Iraq will face once combat troops are gone, there is no purpose in being there. But I guess it is always easy to be tough when it is the lives of other people at stake.

by Benstrader 2007-04-11 04:07PM | 0 recs
I dont believe Chris's post

is about the merits of having an embassy or not.

by okamichan13 2007-04-11 04:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

Personally while I agree with removing troops in Iraq I don't care about it too much really.  Troops staying could be bad and troops leaving could be bad.  

Primarily I want someone in charge who I feel I can trust making those decisons.  

by sterra 2007-04-11 02:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

I agree Edwards should clarify. Frankly I'm surprised we are going to have an embassy there at all. Who are they going to talk with? Even Muqtada Sadr doesn't have the level of control over the militias he once had.

What is the point of having an embassy in chaos? A safe haven for Iraqis who tried to rebuild their country?

by MNPundit 2007-04-11 02:56PM | 0 recs

How would having an embassy in Iraq been anything less than a Middle East Alamo?

I think this is an issue where candidates must cut and dry about their plans. In '64 LBJ was the peace candidate, yet we know how that went.

The American invasion and occupation has soured all hope and good will in the region, and I hardly see a scenario in the near future where an American can be in Iraq without being a target, so I find it hard to justify any residual force, because once that force is attacked, the U.S. will have to either engage fully (re escalate) or withdraw the residual force. So residual force won't do anything, or it is a euphemism for continuing the war.

I don't understand the vitriol directed at Chris and Matt. It was last week where Obama backers where accosting them of being secret Edwards supporters. They are presenting topics for us to discuss, not part of some "left wing conspiracy." And you certainly don't have the right to claim that they have to respond to every inane point you make.

by Benstrader 2007-04-11 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

Portugal closed its embassy because of security concerns: -03-16-portugal_N.htm

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

We are officially at the "angels dancing on the head of a pin" era of the anti-war movement.

by clarkent 2007-04-11 03:20PM | 0 recs
Preventing Genocide and Sectarian Violence

"...we will have troops in the region to prevent the sectarian violence in Iraq from spilling over into other countries, for counter-terrorism, or to prevent a genocide."

I think the argument about embassy and humanitarian protection are red herrings compared to the sentence above.

This must be clarified, because preventing sectarian violence and genocide is pretty close to the rational for the current U.S. mission.

Also, to prevent sectarian violence from spreading would mean putting U.S. forces on the Iraqi/Irani border or Iraqi/Saudi border (or both) and I don't see how that can be done responsibly without large number of combat troops.

by Benstrader 2007-04-11 03:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Preventing Genocide

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you...There seems to be this idea that withdrawing troops from Iraq but staying in the region means an end to engagement in Iraq.  Even with Richardson's plan, if he plans on staying in the Region, it will not be as bystanders. IMO, combat troop means, combat units actively engaging the enemy, be they Shia, Sunni, or Al Qaeda.  A withdrawal of combat troops means, that the Infantry and the Armor units stand down in the pursuit form, and may shift to training or protecting the embassy or protecting US personnel doing humanitarian works or shifted to the border to engage in combat there.  Same people, different job title.  Do we honestly think that American troops on the other side of the Iraq border (technically out of Iraq) ends combat engagement?

Richardson may have a great sound byte, but I think all of these candidates have different versions of the same plan.  Keep them in Iraq sounds bad? Okay how about the region, there they are out of Iraq and safe.

by Kingstongirl 2007-04-11 06:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq and the Big Lie

Well, I don't have any problems with the substance of Edwards's statement, but he shouldn't releasing a statement with a contradiction in it.  It really only opens himself up to the media (rightfully, IMHO) taking a look at his statements on Iraq (now and then), and his actions (now and then). They don't all square with each other. He's playing word games with this statement. The substance of his policy is fine if he'd just reword it.

by Newsie8200 2007-04-11 04:13PM | 0 recs

(Sings) Hijacked roomies lap tap, gonna bring the "straight talk"

Bowers seems like a smart guy and Stoeller has written things I've liked before but they both come across as so damn pathetic here.  I mean aboslutely pathetic. All they do is watch each other's backs and come to each others defense.  How is that "direct Democracy"?  If support is not about blind obidience to a candidate (which it is not) then that also applies to blogs.  Supporting your own blog our the progressive movement for that matter does not mean that you need to rush to the aide of your fellow blogger when they over-react.

As Rodney Dangerfield would say..."SHEESH!"

Stoeller said that he has given to Obama, Edwards, and Clinton and that all of us should focus on building a progressive country.  I actually agree with the building a progressive country part and I think that being a progressive clearly trumps being a Democrat or being an Edwards or Obama supporter.  In fact the party is supposed to represent progressive values and the presidential candidate should in theory, be the best person to bring those values to the Oval Office.  In fact, my desire for a progressive country is why I support John Edwards (among the candidates that are running).  But this begs one question to Stoeller.



What about when she said that other Dems were running to tell people that the "War on Terror" was not a serious threat but that they wouldn't hear that from her?

And by the way, if Edwards is "in the thrall of the National Security state" then how come when you read comments he made both before, during, and after the Herzliya Conference (the speech you refer to) he says virtually the same thing as Obama, Clark, Dean, and Gore(when he ran).  The only thing Edwards did "wrong" at the Herzilya Conference is that he said "all options are on the table" twice.  Boo freaking whoo.  That means something way different coming from him than it does coming from Bush.  

I am not happy with AIPAC's influence and I actually agree with George Soros.  I think it's ridiculous to suggest that people who are concerned with Israel's safety but also want to make it clear that they must not be allowed to become bullies themselves and over-react the way they did in Lebanon, are somehow anti-Semetic is the most ridiculous and inflamatory thing I have ever heard in my life.  It is the ultimate crock of shit.  It's on the same level as attacking someone's "patriotism" for not supporting the disaste in Iraq but it's almost worse because it implies that you are also a bigot.  Of course I can't understand how Jews in Isreal or even here must feel after what they have been through.  But that does not give them the right to take human life.  It's a violent cycle.  Israel attacks a building they think houses terrorists but they miss and kill most of an innocent family.  The one remaining child of the family grows up to be a suicide bomber and kills innocent Isralies, in return for which Israel attacks again and on and on it goes.  Both sides think that if they can just kill more people the other side will give up and they can both live in peace. Human life is human life and it is all priceless which is why it must be protected whether it is in Israel, America, Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, or anywhere else on the planet.  Just like our "war on terror" has only fueled terrorism (torture and racial profiling have alienated the very communities that could provide us with critical intelligence)AIPAC and like minded groups only make the middle east less safe, for everyone, including Israel.  The way the neocons talk about it "supporting" Isreal is like "supporting" the troops, it's not really supporting them at all.  

All of this to say that I would be livid if Edwards was veering on Iran.  You clearly haven't read his Ezra Klein or Tim Russert interviews.  He also became the first major 2008 candidate to back Jim Webb's Iran legislation (Did Richardson do that? He very well could have backed it) and he even enraged the AIPAC crowd when he said that he would consider(down the road)signing a non-agression treaty(or something like that)with Iran.  I'm sure that General Zeeborg at the National Security State was kicking himself with his half robotic foot when he heard that.  

I know I am going after both of you for things only one of you did, and while I am all for being very firm about Democrats not selling out Edwards did not sellout either on Iraq or Iran so both of you can update each other's screeds but all that proves is that you're like Bush and Cheney with the 9/11 commission.  Too afraid to face the music alone after you fuck up.  Pathetic.        

by Progressive Populist 4 Edwards 2007-04-11 10:14PM | 0 recs

Stoller trashes Edwards.  Also, water still wet.

Meanwhile, to Chris's question "Isn't anyone bothered" that "the second reaction has been to attack Matt and myself" - no, not really.  You reap what you sew.

From at least "The Progressive John Edwards Should Run" forward, Matt's trashed Edwards as little more than liar, on the thinnest of pretexts, and this is yet another post in that tradition.  If this post and its poster are being dismissed for that reason, then it's well-deserved.

Really, why would anyone be "bothered" by that?  No one is "bothered" by the ridicule heaped upon reporters who repeat the "Gore is a Liar" meme.  No one should be "bothered" by similar ridicule heaped upon a blogger engaged in the same behavior.

by Drew 2007-04-11 10:52PM | 0 recs


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