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November 08, 2007

Edwards' 3 Questions on Iraq

At a recent campaign appearance in New Market, NH, Former Senator John Edwards took a cue from our playbook by telling voters questions they should be asking candidates on Iraq:

“These are the questions I think should be asked -- and answered -- by everybody,” he told the crowd inside Stone Church. “First, will you have all combat troops -- all combat troops -- out of Iraq in the first year of your Administration? That’s question number one. The answer to that question for me is yes, I will have all combat troops out of Iraq.

"Second, if you’re not going to have all combat troops out of Iraq, are you going to continue combat missions in Iraq over the longer term? The answer to that for me is no, because continuing combat missions is continuing the war. And if we’re going to bring this war to an end, we have to get combat troops out and we have to stop combat missions in Iraq, and I will do that.

"The third question is, will you keep permanent military bases in Iraq? The answer to that question for me is no, I will not. No combat troops, no combat missions, no permanent military bases.”

These are certainly questions we would like to see all the candidates answer, however we would like them all, including Sen. Edwards, to be more specific about the residual forces left behind—how many troops would stay and for how long?  Most presidential candidates and members of Congress talk about withdrawing combat troops, but that does not preclude leaving a large force—potentially in the tens of thousands—to conduct “non-combat” operations. The three Democratic frontrunners raised concern during a debate in September when none of them would commit to having all troops out by 2013, the end of their first term. Our organizers on the ground are working to clarify the candidates’statements and push them to adopt our position of not leaving a residual force in Iraq, as recommended recently by 12 former army captains.

To see what our researchers have found so far about the candidates’ positions on residual forces, check out Peace Action West’s presidential primary voter guide.


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