Bill Richardson: The Blank Check Congress on Iraq

We elected a Democratic Congress to stop the war, and it's not happening.  I regret very much that those senators running for president weren't even there to cast their vote, they were out campaigning.  We gave the president $70 billion more to continue this war without any restraint or timetable to reduce the troops – it's basically a blank check.

That's what Bill Richardson said yesterday in New Hampshire.

Will Clinton, Edwards or Obama promptly bring the U.S. occupation of Iraq to end?  None of them have made an iron clad promise to bring our troops home.  Instead, all want to keep their options open and refuse to pledge to bring home all U.S. troops from Iraq by 2013. 

At the Presidential debate in Dartmouth, among Clinton, Edwards and Obama:

none was willing to commit to a promise in a campaign debate that all of the U.S. combat forces deployed in Iraq will be gone by 2013, the end of the next president’s term in office.

“It's hard to project four years from now," said Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, at the start of a debate of the Democratic candidates in Hanover, N.H.

“"It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting," said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who has vowed that if President Bush has not ended the war in Iraq by the time the next president takes office, “I will.’’

“"I cannot make that commitment," said former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, answering the question posed in a televised debate in the state that will hold the first of the presidential primary elections in January.

'What I heard tonight was, even at the end of their terms the war will not end,'' said Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, promising to bring the troops home as president.

Richardson is staking his run for Presidency on the issue of how best to end the war in Iraq.  He wrote in yesterday's Huffington Post:

Ending the war means getting all the troops out -- there is no room for rhetorical hair-splitting. We're either in or we're out. Now, or the war continues.

. . . just yesterday Congress lost another chance to end this war, choosing instead to once again give Bush what he needs to draw out this tragedy even longer.

Where is the leadership? Just this week, with the fight over telecom immunity, we saw what can happen when a single Senator shows up and stands up for what's right, and yet, yesterday four senators in this race who say they oppose the war -- Senators Obama, Clinton, Dodd and Biden -- were all away while the president got what is essentially another blank check.

. . . With a long history of repelling occupying forces, the people of the Middle East are very sensitive to foreign occupation. So long as U.S. troops occupy those lands, millions of Iraqis and those in surrounding nations will see American troops as jihadist propaganda portrays us -- as occupiers there to repress them and plunder their oil. If we want them to believe we won't occupy Iraq indefinitely, then we need to act like we won't -- and get our troops out.

In addition, our presence in Iraq perpetuates Iraq's political stalemate and undermines political reconciliation. As long as U.S. troops are there, the Iraqi factions have every incentive to jockey for power, rather than to reconcile and compromise.

As president, I will get all of our troops out, and I will get them out my first year in office.

A slow redeployment over many years would only prolong the suffering of Iraqis, and delay the process of reconciliation and reconstruction. The longer we take to redeploy, the longer our troops are in harm's way. While redeployment must be done carefully, as determined by our military leaders, to maximize political impact and minimize harm, we can't afford to drag it out over many years.

And Richardson is spending his campaign funds on getting this message out to the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.  Here is his new TV ad:

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