Talking Iraq With Bill Richardson
by Chris Bowers, Fri Apr 13, 2007 at 10:55:45 AM EDT
- Apart from a contingent of marines to protect the American embassy, he does indeed mean "no residual force whatsoever." No American troops in Iraqi to serve as trainers, no American counter-terrorism units in Iraq, no American troops to protect humanitarian workers--no any of that. Also, since marines are part of every American embassy contingent, he did not consider that a residual force. He would keep American troops in the region, but not in Iraq itself.
- His rationale behind this plan is that no matter what residual American forces are doing in Iraq, they will both be targets and serve as one of the main justifications for continuing violence in the country. His solution is to convene a regional diplomatic conference, in which American withdrawal can be used as leverage, to bring in security forces from neighboring countries such as Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
- Governor Richardson agreed when I asked him if he felt other candidates were being disingenuous when they claimed they were in favor of total withdrawal, but still wanted residual American military forces in Iraq to accomplish x, y, and z. He promised that is a distinction he would draw, and an issue he would repeatedly raise in public during the campaign. I told him that would probably help him quite a bit, looked forward to that issue being discussed, and thanked him for his time.
Now, you have every right to disagree with Richardson's plan. Also, even if you agree with Richardson's plan, you also have every right to argue that other candidates come "close enough" to your view on Iraq, and that other issues are in play when determining which candidate to support. What I hope this accomplishes is that we end the charade where some candidates claim they are for total withdrawal, and then list the various tasks a residual American military force will carry out in the country if he or she becomes President. How many troops we keep in Iraq--a lot, some, a few, or none--is an issue that needs to be discussed in the campaign, and I am thrilled that someone with the foreign policy accomplishments of Bill Richardson is leading the charge for "none." Determining the varying levels of American military presence in Iraq proposed by different candidates is a far, far more fruitful way for Iraq to become an issue in the Democratic primary than arguments over who voted for what back in 2002, and how they feel about those votes five years later. As progressive activists, this is absolutely a discussion we need to have, and I look forward to taking part in it.