Going for broke: John Edwards calls for rapid withdrawal from Iraq

With one day left before the Iowa caucuses, His Royal Phoniness, currently on a 36 hour ‘marathon tour’ of Iowa (lucky Iowans!), is making a desperate last pitch to Iowa Democrats for their vote by unveiling a ‘new and improved’ Iraq withdrawal plan that would quickly pull out most US troops who are training Iraqi forces, as part of an overall strategy of withdrawing most troops within ten months of his (hoped for) election as president (h/t: James Joyner):

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — John Edwards says that if elected president he would withdraw the American troops who are training the Iraqi army and police as part of a broader plan to remove virtually all American forces within 10 months.

Mr. Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina who is waging a populist campaign for the Democratic nomination, said that extending the American training effort in Iraq into the next presidency would require the deployment of tens of thousands of troops to provide logistical support and protect the advisers.

“To me, that is a continuation of the occupation of Iraq” he said in a 40-minute interview on Sunday aboard his campaign bus as it rumbled through western Iowa.

In one of his most detailed discussions to date about how he would handle Iraq as president, Mr. Edwards staked out a position that would lead to a more rapid and complete troop withdrawal than his principal rivals, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, who have indicated they are open to keeping American trainers and counterterrorism units in Iraq.


Mr. Edwards’s plan calls for immediately withdrawing 40,000 to 50,000 troops. Nearly all of the remaining American troops would be removed within 9 or 10 months. The only force that would remain would be a 3,500-to-5,000-strong contingent that would protect the American Embassy and possibly humanitarian workers.

Over the past five years, Mr. Edwards’s position on Iraq has undergone a substantial evolution. In 2002, as a senator, Mr. Edwards was among the Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq. Mr. Edwards has said he was convinced by the intelligence that Saddam Hussein controlled stocks of unconventional weapons, but in the Senate speech explaining his vote he also endorsed the Bush administration’s argument that a new democratic Iraq “could serve as a model for the entire Arab world.”

In November 2005, Mr. Edwards wrote an op-ed article for The Washington Post entitled “The Right Way in Iraq” in which he argued that his earlier vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq was a mistake, while making the point that it was still important to provide American troops with “a way to end their mission honorably.”

Toward this end, Mr. Edwards called at the time for establishing a more effective program to train Iraqi troops and channeling reconstruction work to Iraqis instead of American contractors. While he called for removing a significant number of American forces, he also emphasized that the withdrawals should be “a gradual process.”

“That will still leave us with enough military capability, combined with better-trained Iraqis, to fight terrorists and continue to help the Iraqis develop a stable country” he wrote.

In the interview on Sunday, Mr. Edwards said that he decided on his current plan for a rapid and near-total withdrawal of American troops because of the failure of Iraqi leaders to achieve a political accommodation over the past four years. Eight to 10 brigades, which is likely to be the bulk of the American combat force by the time the next president takes office, would immediately be withdrawn.

Once again, we see John Edwards demonstrating his complete cluelessness when it comes important foreign policy matters. As we all know at this point, the surge is producing fruitful results, but the democracy taking root in Iraq is still fragile and we’re still training Iraqi security forces to be able to take over when we eventually do leave. John Edwards seems to be taking a similar path that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have with their lack of interest in the very real likelihood that genocide will take place in Iraq if we leave before Iraqi security forces are able to protect and defend their country. The only exception with Edwards position is that he’s taking the run, don’t walk approach to abandoning Iraq.

Not a single one of them understands the necessity and importance of having a stable and secure Iraq, and not a single one of them gives a damn about the reputation of the United States in terms of finishing what we started. That these three cut and runners are the “top tier” for the Democratic nomination for president just goes to show what the sorry, pathetic, and weak state that the Democratic party is in – and how weak they’re willing to make this country look in the eyes of the Islamofascists who are salivating at the prospect a Democrat will be elected president.

IraqPundit sums it up:

What these candidates overlook is that several reports say Iraq is on the mend. These improvements are because of the hard work of U.S. troops working with Iraqis. How about acknowledging the successes of Americans in Iraq? Most of al-Qaeda in Iraq has been defeated. Refugees are returning, and civilians are starting to live again. But it will take time for Iraq to return to normal. Sure Iraqi politicians are incompetent. But is it really fair to abandon the civilians because of foolish leaders?

‘Nuff said.

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