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You have served magnificently. Now you are coming home.

Isn't that what we want to hear our next President say?  That's what Bill Richardson said yesterday in Iowa.

Have Obama, Clinton or Edwards ever said this?  They refuse to pledge to bring home all U.S. troops, even by 2013.  2013 is too late.  Why settle for a President that can't figure out today that the war is a disaster and unequivocally calls for the withdrawal of our troops?

Richardson criticized other candidates and the news media for shifting focus away from the war:

Perhaps they think that because fewer of our troops have died lately that Americans don't care anymore. Well, we do and I dare the media to tell the families of the 37 troops who were killed last month that this issue doesn't deserve front-page coverage.

A version of this message was originally posted on MyDD as part of its candidate series.

Richardson argues that a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces is the only way we will have leverage over the warring factions to compromise, while our presence fuels the insurgency.  In an Op Ed published in the Washington Post last September entitled "Why We Should Exit Iraq Now," Richardson wrote:

So long as American troops are in Iraq, reconciliation among Iraqi factions is postponed. Leaving forces there enables the Iraqis to delay taking the necessary steps to end the violence. And it prevents us from using diplomacy to bring in other nations to help stabilize and rebuild the country.

The presence of American forces in Iraq weakens us in the war against al-Qaeda. It endows the anti-American propaganda of those who portray us as occupiers plundering Iraq's oil and repressing Muslims. The day we leave, this myth collapses, and the Iraqis will drive foreign jihadists out of their country.

I have yet to read anything by Clinton, Obama or Edwards capturing this insight on the Iraqi conflict.  Throughout the campaign, when pressed, they refuse to commit to a withdrawal of all U.S. forces by any time frame, including 2010 or 2013:

Some have accused Richardson of pandering in his call for a prompt U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.  Of course, many of these persons were the same voices that supported our invasion or are attacking Richardson, not because they actually disagree with his position on Iraq, but because they've chosen to support another Presidential candidate.  As noted in the Des Moines Register, Richardson's plan for Iraq is far more than a withdrawal:

"We don’t just wave goodbye," Richardson said, adding he would call a reconciliation conference in Iraq to implement accords to end the war. He would also establish an international donor conference and build a United Nations-sanctioned and predominantly Muslim peacekeeping force.

"The bottom line is this: Our presence in Iraq is blocking reconciliation by the parties and fueling hatred of the United States around the world. We are less safe staying in Iraq than leaving. We need to get our troops out in order to focus on our real security needs, and upon our needs at home."

But isn't the surge working?  Writing this month in the Huffington Post, Richardson's answer is:

It isn't. The conventional wisdom, that after just a few months of declining casualty rates, victory is around the corner is rosy-eyed nonsense. If you listen to Washington insiders, we've turned that corner again and again - so many times we may just be walking in circles.

Casualties have fallen three months in a row on nine previous occasions during the 5 years we've been in Iraq - nine times. Each time we've been fed the same lines: "Mission Accomplished," "Dead Ender," "Last Throes." On each of those nine occasions, however, casualties have risen back to newer more tragic levels.

I'm not sure who decided what number of American troop deaths is an "acceptable" cost to buy a declaration of "victory," but last month 37 American troops died. After nearly five years of war, the only "acceptable" number of deaths is zero.

. . . Only one thing will bring long-term stability in Iraq: political progress. The stated purpose of the surge was to give Iraqi politicians the breathing room to take the necessary steps towards real reconciliation. That has not happened - and those on the ground know it. Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Barham Salih, last month flatly declared "There will be no reconciliation . . .this is a struggle about power," and Iraq's Vice President (and most important Sunni politician) recently echoed that with "there has been no significant progress in months."

Political progress is impossible as long as our troops are on the ground, making the status-quo possible for Iraqi politicians and leading Iraqi citizens to doubt whether we'll ever leave. There is no military solution to this problem, so our military should not be there.

Yesterday in Iowa, Richardson emphasized that there is no U.S. military solution to the war in Iraq, and outlined a new vision for America at home and abroad:  

It's an American Dream, in which all of our troops are coming home. In which our government works for the middle class.

. . .To those who say we can't beat the lobbies and pass health care reform: I know we can -- because I did it.

All kids twelve and under in my state today have access to health insurance, and we are going cover everyone else by 2010.

When I am President, every family will have access to the same health insurance that Congress and the President have,

And our veterans will have a Heroes Health Card so that they can the care they deserve wherever they need it. We're going to require full, mandatory funding of the VA health care system. And we're going to start treating mental trauma such as PTSD the same way we treat physical wounds -- like the battlefield injuries that they are.

Here is Richardson's speech:


For those wishing to learn more about Richardson's plan for Iraq see
One question and answer is:


A: Yes

There is more than one road out of Iraq

   * The road to Kuwait – known as Route Tampa – will be used to transport large equipment, personnel, and vehicles to safety in Kuwait. Once there, out of harm's way, the process of putting people and equipment on ships for movement can begin. The United States forces need not be entirely out of the region to consider its withdrawal from Iraq complete.
   * The United States, once declaring that it intends to completely withdraw from Iraq, will gain diplomatic leverage that has been absent since this war began. The U.S. will initiate talks immediately with the Turks to use roads north of Baghdad to evacuate forces through Turkish border areas.

The United States must decide to leave some equipment behind

   * To expedite our departure from Iraq, the military would be authorized to leave behind non-sensitive equipment that would not be cost effective, in terms of either further loss of life or money, to wait to remove from Iraq. While it is necessary to remove all sensitive material, such as vehicles, communications devices, classified technologies, and heavy war fighting equipment, other items must be jettisoned to quicken the withdrawal process. Equipment left behind can either be turned over to the Iraqis, or destroyed.
   * The rapidity with which U.S. forces re-deploy will be based largely on how much of this equipment we choose to leave behind.

The United States military excels at this kind of logistical feat

   * After the first gulf war, the United States moved almost a half a million troops, and the necessary equipment, out of theater in a four-month period.
   * The United States military has moved 240,000 troops and their equipment into and out of Iraq through Kuwait in three months during the height of troop movements during the current conflict.

Originally posted to Stephen Cassidy on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 08:29 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for Exiting Iraq Promptly (7+ / 0-)

    and leaving no residual forces behind.

    Bill Richardson: "Get out now. Get all our troops out now. It is the only right and responsible choice."

    by Stephen Cassidy on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 08:29:01 AM PST

  •  Iraq must be dealt with - the cost is too great (4+ / 0-)

    If Democrats want to win the White House with a mandate, they must run on getting out of Iraq. Otherwise, we don't have the money for any of the other important policies that America needs (health care, energy reform, etc).

    The fact that Clinton, Obama and Edwards refuse to commit to getting all of our troops out of Iraq before 2013 makes me wonder how they plan to fix America. Only Richardson has the clarity to see that EVERYTHING is tied up in getting out of Iraq.

  •  Bring em home safely (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peace voter

    I don't oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war."

    All Combat Troops Redeployed by 2009:

    Barack Obama would immediately begin redeploying American
    troops from Iraq. The withdrawal would be strategic and phased, directed by military commanders on the
    ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government. Troops would be removed from secure areas first,
    with troops remaining longer in more volatile areas. The drawdown would begin immediately with one to two
    combat brigades redeploying each month and all troops engaged in combat operations out by the end of next
    A United Nations-Led Constitutional Convention: Iraq's constitution, approved in an October 2005
    referendum, is the product of a Kurdish–Shiite deal. Iraq's government was supposed to immediately revise the
    constitution to be more inclusive of Sunnis and to develop a more sustainable balance between Baghdad's
    centralized authority and provincial governments. They never did.

    Barack Obama would have the United
    Nations convene a constitutional convention in Iraq that would include representatives from all levels of Iraqi

    The convention would not adjourn until national reconciliation is reached and contentious questions
    such as federalism, oil revenue sharing, and de-Ba'athification are resolved.
    Refuse to Provide U.S. Assistance to Sectarian Actors: The Obama plan would encourage the Iraqi
    government to adopt policies that give regional and local groups a sufficient stake in the center so they are deterred from attempting to overthrow the central government or completely break away. He would work to ensure local communities can protect themselves without threatening other groups. He would fight for greater transparency in local security efforts to reduce anxieties among all sects that America intends to support one sect over another.

    Obama also would crack down on the use of American foreign assistance to sectarian ends or
    by sectarian actors. This problem was made clear by two recent studies, one of which concluded the United
    States cannot account for 190,000 weapons provided to Iraqi Security Forces and another which found weapons
    issued by the United States to Iraqi Security Forces among Kurdish militants in Turkey


    "At every stage of this war, we have suffered because of disdain for diplomacy. .

    . .
    We need to launch the most aggressive diplomatic effort in recent history to reach a new compact in the region.
    This compact must secure Iraq’s borders, keep neighbors from meddling, isolate al Qaeda, and support Iraq’s

    Obama also would be a tough negotiator with Syria and Iran, sending a clear message that they need to stop meddling in Iraq’s affairs.

    Take Care of Refugees: Barack Obama would establish an international working group dedicated to
    addressing the Iraqi refugee crisis. He would increase American investments in Iraq's refugees and internally
    displaced people and to the neighboring countries that house them to at least $2 billion. He would work with
    Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt to dramatically increase access to social services for refugees. He also would
    work to create safe-havens for Iraqis who remain in Iraq, but are displaced from their homes by violence.

    Fulfill America's Obligation to Accept Refugees: The State Department pledged to allow 7,000 Iraqi refugees
    into America, but has only let 190 into the United States. Obama would expedite the Department of Homeland
    Security's review of Iraqi asylum applicants.

    •  Where was Obama's leadership when he got to (0+ / 0-)

      the Senate?  Why did Obama state he might have supported the war resolution if he was serving in the Senate at the time of the vote?  Whom is currently advising Obama that believes the most prudent course of action is a complete and prompt withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq?  Why does Obama leave open the door to residual forces remaining in Iraq?  Why won't Obama pledge to bring home all of our troops by 2013?

      Those are all questions I have for Obama supporters on Iraq.

      Bill Richardson: "Get out now. Get all our troops out now. It is the only right and responsible choice."

      by Stephen Cassidy on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 11:18:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  counterpoint (0+ / 0-)

    But back in Albuquerque, sitting in a popular burrito joint across from the University of New Mexico, Bob Anderson drums his fingers on the table when asked about Richardson’s stance on Iraq. Anderson, who along with his wife, Jeanne Pahls, founded the nonprofit Stop the War Machine in the runup to the U.S. invasion, complains that the governor has given little support to activists over the past four years.

    "That’s a very small thing, and he doesn’t even do that—because if he did, he would have to take a stand against the economy of a state structured on war profiteering," says Anderson, a Vietnam veteran, professor, and longtime anti-war activist. "New Mexico is one of the key research states for the whole military-industrial complex. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Honeywell—all of them are here making big bucks off this horrible war."

    — Laura Paskus
    Is Bill Richardson Radioactive?
    the Progressive, December 2007 Issue


    •  That's not a counterpoint (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stephen Cassidy

      It's an anecdotal comment from a disaffected activist who has a group with little or no support.  Governor Richardson's position has been consistent from the beginning of this campaign.  

      Pardon me, PeeVee, but your hatred of Bill Richardson is showing.  You lost your candidate (as evidenced by the change in signature from "Run, Al, Run); and now all you can do is be a hater.

      Did you even check to see if this organization is a non-profit (I mean an IRS qualified non-profit)?  There is no mention on their website, a site that has not seen an update (in spite of the script that changes each day) for over a year.

      Come on, Pee Vee, you can do better than that.  Or, alternatively, maybe you really don't believe your moniker.  Maybe you don't want peace in Iraq....

    •  Richardson is not perfect, but I'm sorry (3+ / 0-)

      even with his support of nuclear power [which I am adamantly against] and other irregularities, his stance on the war is above reproach.

      "If you want to go quickly, go alone.
      If you want to go far, go together.
      We have to go far, quickly."

      by shpilk on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 09:53:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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