John Edwards Campaign Statement On Complete Withdrawal

Just received this over email from the Edwards campaign:
When we say complete withdrawal we mean it. No more war. No combat troops in the country. Period. But we're also being honest. 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 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.
Troops to defend the embassy are fine, since the embassy is actually American soil. Also, troops in the region are fine. I am not advocating for a total withdrawal from the Middle East.

Leaving troops in Iraq to defend American non-governmental personnel is a bit of a gray area. It certainly does seem different from both "having no residual force whatsoever" and from having a "continuing military mission in Iraq." I have asked the Edwards campaign if this includes a training program for Iraqi troops, or if it includes a role for "counter-terrorism" forces inside Iraq itself, because I think those are two important differences we can identify in varying Iraq plans. After all, both immediately before and after the Vietnam War, troop training and counter-communism missions continued even after other, large military operations had ended. If we are still training Iraqis via American troops in Iraq, and / or engaging in military-backed "counter-terrorism" efforts on the ground, are we really ending the war? I don't think so.

I have repeatedly said on MyDD that I am not a policy guru. However, as with the fight over the Iraq Accountability Act, the continuing and overarching importance of Iraq feels like it is forcing me to become one on this issue. There are a lot of nuances here. Does a candidate support a residual military force? What is the size and composition of that force? Will that force be used to protect the embassy? Will it be used to defend American civilians in Iraq (which has historically often been a pre-text for broader colonial intervention)? Will a residual military force be used as part of a military training operation for Iraqi troops inside the country? Will it be used as part of "counter-terrorism" efforts in the country, which would basically mean the war in Iraq wouldn't end at all? It is important to understand the difference between the candidates on all of these sub-issues, because each of these questions offers further insight into just how committed a candidate is to ending the war in Iraq if s/he becomes President.

Update: More from Edwards:
Training troops is the kind of activity Senator Edwards wants to occur during the 12-18 months he has proposed before our complete withdrawal. This is the period where we’ll concentrate on helping Iraqis stand on their own, and increased training of their troops will forward that mission.
OK, I take this to mean that he is not in favor of keeping troops in Iraq after the withdraw to continue training. Overall, it seems like a good plan, but still second best to Richardson. I just wish he would stop saying that he wants to remove all troops, when some will stay to protect American civilians. Just say "almost all troops" will be withdrawn.

Tags: Iraq, John Edwards (all tags)



in other words, STFU, Stoller

How many times now, Matt, that you have piped off on Edwards without thinking, and had to crawl back and "correct" your statements?

by DrFrankLives 2007-04-11 12:38PM | 0 recs
Re: in other words, STFU, Stoller

Can't speak for Stoller, but I've lost count...

by nite swimming 2007-04-11 12:43PM | 0 recs
Re: in other words, STFU, Stoller

Glad to see you entirely missed the point of Chris's post.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 01:08PM | 0 recs
Re: in other words, STFU, Stoller

Well Stoller's posts have always proved him to be a high-horse riding ideologue- and an obnoxious one at that- so I dont see this as any surprise.

by AC4508 2007-04-11 01:13PM | 0 recs
With all due respect

The point of my comment was not that Chris was saying STFU, but that Edwards's position is entirely contrary to how you characterized it.  Hence, the directive in the title of my comment.

You're a smart guy, Matt, you should be able to figure out how to let a post marinate a few minutes before hitting enter.

by DrFrankLives 2007-04-11 01:14PM | 0 recs
Re: With all due respect

Edwards' statement is a flat-out contradiction.  See my follow-up post.

This isn't really Edwards' fault, it's our fault.  We're letting him and the elites get away with this nonsense.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 01:29PM | 0 recs
Re: With all due respect

your followup post is as obtuse as your original one.

He's going to pull out all combat troops, and have no permanent bases in Iraq.  That is NO DIFFERENT, other than in word choice, from Richardson.  No different.

And, again, Edwards led the field in this statement.  He has had this position for months.  It is very nice that Richardson has joined the club.  I like Richardson and Obama, and, for the most part, Clinton.  Unlike supporters of some candidates, I don't feel the need to trash other candidates when (a) I disagree with them (i.e. your comments about Edwards's perfectly reasonable and appropriate position on Iran) or (b) I am backing my own candidate.

John Edwards doesn't need me to trash any body else - he is head and shoulders above the field without bringing anybody else down.

by DrFrankLives 2007-04-11 01:51PM | 0 recs
Chris's Posts on the Issue

A busy news day here! I think Chris's first post on the Richardson news, "Richardson: 'I Would Have No Residual Force Whatsoever," was very much on the mark.

On the other hand, this paragraph from his second post, "Progressive Activists Complicit in Iraq Disconnect" was ascribing "contradiction" to Edwards when, in fact, at worst, there was a need for Edwards to further clarify his position.  

In this situation, we, and by "we" I mean the progressive blogosphere, are part of the problem. Because we like Edwards or Obama, we have no problem letting them slide on this contradiction, which makes it impossible for us to credibly call out candidates like Hillary Clinton on the contradiction.

Hillary Clinton's position of "ending the war," while indefinitely occupying Iraq to accomplish six different missions when she is President, is a contradiction, and it MUST be exposed as such.

As for Obama, interestingly, "contradiction" might conceivably be applied to his position since he did vote for the Senate resolution providing for 3 continuing missions in Iraq AFTER ostensible withdrawal.  And his own withdrawal legislation says....what about continuing missions? Obama needs to be asked about this. He needs to clarify his Iraq position.

(Now, Matt's statement about Edwards and Iran in his "Stopping the Obama/Edwards/Clinton Charade on Iraq" was gratuitous foolishness.  It must have been fun typing that invective, but c'mon Matt, that isn't the truth, and you know it.)  

I like how Richardson and MoveOn precipitated this moment of clarification.  The bottom line is: if the Democratic candidates for President are actually offering different choices on Iraq, then we, the voters, need to know about those differences.  Informed voting?  What a concept.  

by Demo37 2007-04-11 02:02PM | 0 recs
Re: in other words, STFU, Stoller

I'm not the hugest fan of STFU, but he did make two pretty clear mistakes in that diary.

I guess there wasn't a charade afterall  ;-)

by philgoblue 2007-04-11 12:44PM | 0 recs
Re: in other words, STFU, Stoller

Read the "by line" people.  Bowers and Stoller are different people.

by Winston Smith 2007-04-11 03:49PM | 0 recs
Re: in other words, STFU, Stoller

Oh sorry, I guess your criticism of Stoller was bleeding over from the other post.

by Winston Smith 2007-04-11 03:50PM | 0 recs
Thanks for posting this, Chris.

Much appreciated.

by DrFrankLives 2007-04-11 12:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks for posting this, Chris.

How's it going DFL?

by Robert P 2007-04-11 12:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks for posting this, Chris.

Check my blog.  It's been a great week.

by DrFrankLives 2007-04-11 12:53PM | 0 recs
I don't think so

Why don't you STFU.

by MikeB 2007-04-11 01:33PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't think so

and you are?

I spent the week on vacation with little kids at Disneyland.  Other than exhaustion and being flat broke now, I don't think weeks get much better.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

by DrFrankLives 2007-04-11 02:04PM | 0 recs
Deployments of the US military in other countries

Link here

Iraq - 169,000 troops
Afghanistan - 19,500 troops
Kosovo - 1700 troops

South Korea - 40,000
Japan - 40,000
Diego Garcia - 500 (Diego Garcia?? what the heck?)

Germany - 75,000 (quite a lot, isn't it?)
Italy - 13000
UK - 11000
Bosnia and Herzegovina - 3000

Qatar - 3,432
Bahrain - 1500
UAE - 1100
(no Kuwait?  that's hard to believe)

At any rate, given the rate of deployment, certainly you can see why having more troops stationed in Iraq than in the UK - well, it's defensible, right?  

Or am I wrong, which could certainly be the case.

by jc 2007-04-11 12:43PM | 0 recs
Edwards has foresworn

bases--which strikes me as the most important issue in terms of keeping, or not keeping, a miltary presence in a country.

by david mizner 2007-04-11 12:46PM | 0 recs
I think every Dem candidate...

has said "no permanent bases", including Clinton.  One of the interesting elements here (and probably the reason for the clarification from Edwards) is the seeming deliberate attempts to muddy the water between candidates...particularly Hillary.

Also, it appears that Edwards doesn't want to allow Richardson to gain any netroots traction on "full pullout".  Interesting...

by rashomon 2007-04-11 12:50PM | 0 recs
Re: I think every Dem candidate...

He was asked to clarify his position and he did.... what's supposed to do? Not answer?

by cosbo 2007-04-11 01:05PM | 0 recs
I think it's great

that the Edwards campaign is now responding quickly to blogs--otherwise untruths and half-truths become accepted. I wish the Edwards campaign had faxed Stoller a clarification about his position on Iran--oh, forget it, that wouldn't have done any good. Stoller would've just gone on repeating the same crap.

by david mizner 2007-04-11 01:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Deployments of the US military in other countr

Diego Garcia is a Pacific atoll that is basically just a US military base.

Almost 90,000 combined in Germany and Italy?  Kinda weird.

by aaronetc 2007-04-11 01:24PM | 0 recs
Deigo Garcia

Not to be confused with Jerry.

Nice, out of the way, completely isolated in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Great place to keep our long range bombers.  Still a B-52 squadron there which can strike anywhere from Indonesia to the Ivory Coast, and as far North as Damascus.

Not to mention where some very black, very secret CIA planes are believed to have dropped some very disappeared persons

BTW, I think the 169,000 in Iraq count those in Kuwait awaiting deployment, or getting R&R.

"In the region" includes Afghanistan, Qatar, Bahrain and UAE I would assume.  I'd also assume our UAE contingent will increase with CheneyBurton moving to Dubai.

by Mark Adams 2007-04-11 07:46PM | 0 recs
I'm glad you asked

and I'm glad he answered. This is something like actual journalism.

As for the substance, you've got to squint pretty hard to see daylight between Edwards's position and Richardson's "having no residual force whatsoever."

Still, I appreciate your forcing the candidates to clarify their positions on these issues--it's important.

Edwards has answered your concerns to my satisfaction, and to the satisfaction, I think, of most reasonable observers.

by david mizner 2007-04-11 12:44PM | 0 recs
The response to Richardson...

is the interesting part to me.  Both Dkos and MyDD had front pagers today implying that Richardson was taking a stronger position on withdrawal than Edwards.  It seems clear that Edwards isn't going to let Richardson be percieved that way...

by rashomon 2007-04-11 12:52PM | 0 recs
Imagine that.

I'd love to know, did you seek them out, or did they seek you out?

by Robert P 2007-04-11 12:49PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards Campaign Statement On Complete Wi

Now for Obama and Clinton for that matter...

by juls 2007-04-11 12:50PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards Campaign Statement On Complete Wi

Where does Clinton stand on this? I know Obama's plan leaves an opening for troops to stay in Iraq to fight supposed Al Qeada, but what about Clinton? Is she for a full pull out or is she leaving holes too?

by Sarah Lane 2007-07-11 04:55PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards Campaign Statement

Well, that clarifies things a bit.  Region means region.  Complete withdrawal means complete withdrawal.  I have no problems with his plan.

by littafi 2007-04-11 12:54PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards

In addition to the question of stationing troops for "training" (i don't hate the idea of a limited number for a limited time) and "anti-terrorism" (sorry, but that's just "combat troops" by another name -- if we need to get a terrorist target using our troops, airlift them in for the specific mission from an aircraft carrier or something), you should also ask about stationing troops for "logistical support" (again, given the current sorry state of the Iraq Army, a limited number of troops for a limited time would be acceptable to me.)

But BTAIM, (and I'm gonna repeat myself) rather than focussing on what these candidates will do in 20 months because the Democratic Congress failed to end US involvement in Iraq, we should be (per Matt's earlier post) demanding that our candidates show leadership NOW to make the work of Pelosi and Reid successful.

I mean, why not ask ALL the declared candidates for 5% of the contributions they've gotten so far for seed money for ad advertising campaign designed to pressure GOP congresscritters to override a Bush veto -- and get the message of our Congressional leaders out there.  (Their campaign money could be used for matching funds for an "Act Blue" effort to raise funds.)

Demand that those who wish to lead us SHOW LEADERSHIP NOW.  I want Iraq policy to be practically IRRELEVANT in the 2008 election, and the only way that will happen is if the candidates ACT NOW.

by plukasiak 2007-04-11 12:57PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards Campaign Statement ........

Good Post Chris.  And FWIW I think the commentary on Stoller is too rude.  True, he says stuff sometimes that I think are demonstrably false, but he is a good guy working for the cause.  And on his good days he says some stuff I agree with 100%. Cut him some slack.

by Andy Katz 2007-04-11 01:29PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards Campaign Statement ........

Please point out when I say something false.  Otherwise, stop smearing me.  That goes for everyone.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-11 01:32PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards Campaign Statement ........

Chill dude.  Ya, you're wrong sometimes.  For now on I'll try to point this out as it occurs but frankly I dont have as much time as you to post so I dont respond everytime.

by Andy Katz 2007-04-11 02:43PM | 0 recs
Asked and answered

"I have asked the Edwards campaign if this includes a training program for Iraqi troops, or if it includes a role for "counter-terrorism" forces inside Iraq itself, because I think those are two important differences we can identify in varying Iraq plans."

seems like the original email was pretty crystal clear.

by okamichan13 2007-04-11 01:32PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards Campaign Statement On Complete Wi
I think just about all the candidates are wanting to end this folly of war.  The devil is in the details.  What can be realistically achieved and what is pie in the sky wishful thinking.  What is the most responsible way of getting these troops out and what is not a realistic policy.
since I doubt most of us are military experts and we all know that the democrats want the war ended, I think we need to see what is the best route.
by vwcat 2007-04-11 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards Campaign Statement On Complete Wi

I think it's pretty clear what Edward's means here.  

He's anticipating under his presidency U.S. involvement in Iraq will be roughly equivalent to U.S. involvement in the Balkans.  There will be a small force "in the region" which after a few years will be all but forgotten.  If things get really bad, we may engage in some "strategic bombings" to stop major genocides or to hit AQ units.  But that's about it.  

It's still not ideal, at least IMO, as any actions we take are still likely to have blowback.  The U.S. hasn't really done a single thing well with direct interventions in the Middle East or Latin America ever.  But it would cut down our level of meddling to the historical norm of foreign policy meddling - taking down the negative effects on Iraq by an order of magnitude, eliminate extra-budgetary war spending, and all but eliminate the issue from the public mind.  It will do.  

by telephasic 2007-04-11 02:30PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards Campaign Statement On Complete Wi

"The U.S. hasn't really done a single thing well with direct interventions in the Middle East or Latin America ever."  

I don't know - we sure showed those Barbary Pirates a thing or two....

heh heh.  ahem....  cough.  never mind.

by DrFrankLives 2007-04-11 02:54PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards Campaign Statement On Complete Wi

Where does it say "stay" to defend? I don't ever see the word "stay" in blockquotes. I see it added by commentators, but I do not find it in the original.

I'm looking for the part of the statement where these hypothetical troops to defend a hypothetical humanitarian mission are troops that have stayed behind for that purpose.

If you want Edwards to rule out deploying troops to defense a humanitarian missions, he'd refused to do that. And I understand that you are unlikely to have any family that have benefitted from a peace keeping mission, but my wife is presently living in the Congo, and both she and a large number of my in-laws have benefitted from having MONUC in country.

If he had done the irresponsible thing and had ruled out every deploying troops to Iraq to protect a humanitarian mission, I would have been very unhappy.

He could have done so, if he was purely concerned with scoring political points. After all, amoment's reflection (though some people do not have a moment for reflection in a busy day of blogging) will establish that Richardson's phrasing of complete withdrawal also refrains from ruling out ever using forces of some form to protect a humanitarian mission.

So if he wanted to draw a distinction between his position and Richardson's, he could have ruled that out. However, I am happy that he did not do so, since the position that he and Richardson share (except on timing), is the one I support.

by BruceMcF 2007-04-11 10:16PM | 0 recs


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