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November 2007

November 21, 2007

Obama: withdraw combat troops within 16 months

Barack Obama continues to promise to withdraw only combat troops from Iraq – paving the way for a prolonged, albeit diminished, occupation of the country. He laid out his platform in the recent Nevada debate:

There is no doubt that because we put American troops in Iraq, more American troops in Iraq, that they are doing a magnificent job.

And they are making a difference in certain neighborhoods. But the overall strategy is failed because we have not seen any change in behavior among Iraq's political leaders. And that is the essence of what we should be trying to do in Iraq.

That's why I'm going to bring this war to a close. That's why we can get our troops out -- our combat troops out within 16 months. That's why we have to initiate the kind of regional diplomacy, not just talking to our friends, but talking to our enemies, like Iran and Syria, to try to stabilize the situation there.

But I just want to make this important point, because all of us as we're campaigning, we're seeing this in human terms. People are on two, three, four tours of duty. Families are carrying an enormous burden.

This year, we saw the highest casualty rates for American troops in Iraq since this war started.

The same, by the way, is true in Afghanistan. If we have seen a lowering violence rate, that's only compared to earlier this year. We're back to where we started back in 2006.

And so the notion that somehow because we've gone from horrific violence to just intolerable levels of violence, and that somehow that justifies George Bush's strategy is absolutely wrong, and I'm going to bring it to a halt when I'm president of the United States.

Richardson: leave no residual forces behind

Gov. Bill Richardson responds to questions on Iraq in the Nevada Democratic debate:

We shouldn't be talking about body counts. One American death is too much.

And what I am saying here is the surge is not working.

There is less -- right now, less possibility of a political solution. Three out of the 18 benchmarks of the General Accounting (sic) Office have been fulfilled. Even among Republican math, that is a failing grade.

What I'm saying also is that -- look at this statistic: 65 percent of the Iraqi people now say it's OK to shoot an American soldier. Our troops are dying -- over 3,800, two today, 60,000 wounded, casualties, mainly mental trauma.

Now, my position is that we get the troops out in a year, leave no residual forces behind -- unlike some of my colleagues here that want to leave some until 2013 -- but not just wave goodbye, because we have a responsibility.

And that is: one, to get a political compromise, a U.S.-led political compromise among the three groups that they share power -- the Sunni, the Shia, the Kurds -- that they share oil revenues, that we have an all-Muslim, all-Arab peacekeeping force, with some European forces, headed by the U.N., a donor conference that involves other countries -- European Union, rich Arab states, contributing to the reconstruction of Iraq, where we have spent $500 billion in this war, when this money should be used in America, for health care, education, and for kids.

November 20, 2007

Clinton Signs the Voter Guide for Peace & Security...



Noura Khouri, Peace Action West's Las Vegas organizer waded through the crowds to talk to Hillary Clinton about her support of residual troops and to ask what her exact plan for bringing troops home from Iraq was. Ms. Clinton would only say she would bring the troops “home as soon as possible”. She did however sign our platform and we continue to plan to continue our dialogue with Senator Clinton on important foreign policy issues.


Ron Paul Clarifies his position on Nuclear Weapons

Ron_paul_002_2 During a meet-and-greet with Ron Paul, Republican presidential candidate, I was able to ask him directly about his position on nuclear weapons. He said that he “is opposed to the development of new nuclear weapons, and for reducing the current stockpile”. 

All of his positions are direct departures from the current administration's. He said that “more freedom will make us all safer," and that “we must end the US empire” beginning in Iraq. He also said that we must “bring all US military bases”, which currently exist in “130 countries,” home immediately. He stated firmly to wide applause that contrary to what many Republican and Democratic candidates say, the congressional vote to label the Iranian guard “a terrorist organization” opened the door for another disastrous war. He also took on what certain candidates stated was the goal of this vote - to impose sanctions - as a form of verbal persuasion, to make Iran obey US demands. “Sanctions” he said, “are an act of war.”

He goes on to say that today’s “problems are not that complicated” and calls for a “return to the constitution”. He said he aims to be a unifying force because he believes that the “message of freedom brings everyone together," and added there is “no reason that we must give up any of our liberty to be safe.” Ron_paul_001_2



Senator Gravel talks about the war at an alternate debate.

November 19, 2007

Kucinich calls on Congress to halt war funding

Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich showed no shortage of energy as he demanded an end to the occupation of Iraq in the Nevada debate. The Ohio Congressman said, to sustained applause, that he was the only candidate who never voted for authority for the war, presented withdrawal legislation, and refused to vote for any war funding. He called Congress out on the duty to stand up to the White House.
And let me tell you something, the Democrats in Congress have not done the right thing for the American people. They should tell President Bush, we're not going to give you another dime. We're not putting a bill on the floor. Bring them home now.

Take action today and help put some pressure on Congress by signing our our Iraq Pledge.

Clinton: I wouldn't ask Iran to give up nuclear power

Yesterdays Democratic debate in Nevada gave Sen. Hillary Clinton a chance to clarify her position on Iran. Clinton called for proactive diplomacy-- even hinting at negotiations without preconditions.
What I think is most important is that we have aggressive diplomacy with Iran. I believe that the Bush administration has allowed this situation to worsen and fester because they won't have any diplomatic relations of any sort with Iran. So what I would do is to immediately begin that kind of negotiation. And I wouldn't ask the Iranians to give up their quest for nuclear power or anything else. Get them to the table.
Clinton did not back away from her vote to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity.
The only thing I would add, in addition to thanking you for your service, is that, having been in Iraq, you know that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has assisted the militias and others in killing our Americans and in maiming them.
They have imported technology and technical assistance.
I believe they are a terrorist group. I think sanctioning them and putting some pressure on them is an important part of getting to the diplomatic table with both carrots and sticks.

Help prevent war with Iran by writing to your Senator and urging diplomacy and enforcing checks on the White House. PeaceActionWest.org's action alert makes it quick and easy.

Edwards: Pakistan instability shows danger of nukes

At the Nov. 15, Nevada Democratic Debate, John Edwards used a interaction with Gov. Bill Richardson on Pakistan to link the conflict to the growing crisis of global nuclear proliferation.
Now, this leads to a bigger questions. I think Pakistan is the living, breathing example that America's ad hoc policy of dealing with the spread of nuclear weapons, while it's absolutely required in today's world given what's happening with Iran, given what we see today in Pakistan and the incredible fragility of the administration in Pakistan and the presidents of an extraordinary extremist element within Pakistan.
But this is the living, breathing example of a policy that will not work over the long-term -- I'm about to finish. What we have to do, what America needs to do and what I will do, as president of the United States, is to lead a long-term international effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
Sen. Barack Obama and Gov. Bill Richardson also expressed concern over Pakistan, but did not tie the issue to the clear need for US leadership for a nuclear free world.

November 16, 2007

CNN forces "diamonds or pearls" question over Iraq and nuclear waste

Maria Luisa Parra-Sandoval, a political science student at the University of Nevada, has been skewered in the media and on the internet for asking Hillary Clinton the superficial question, “do you prefer diamonds or pearls?” at last night's Democratic presidential debate.  It turns out that she tried and failed to ask more substantive questions that were nixed by CNN:

Last week, CNN had contacted Ms. Parra-Sandoval, a political science student at University of Las Vegas-Nevada, through a professor, and asked her to submit a question. She wrote one about health care for children. CNN rejected it, calling it too similar to another question that would be asked. So she sent another, about Iraq. That was rejected too. On Wednesday, a CNN producer asked her for two final questions, one substantive and one light. Ms. Parra-Sandoval sent one about Yucca Mountain, the Nevada site under consideration as a storage facility for radioactive waste. With the deadline approaching, she stared at her computer screen. Noticing the pearl-pattern background on her MySpace page, she dashed off the jewelry one.

CNN asked her to come to the debate with both questions memorized. Two hours in, a producer whispered that she should ask the second one.

“Because I was on national TV, I felt hesitant, but then I felt like, ‘Oh my God, I’m on national TV, I’ll just ask it,’” Ms. Parra-Sandoval said.

Now Ms. Parra-Sandoval is being accused, by everyone from bloggers to fellow students, of asking an airheaded, sexist question. On her MySpace page and in a phone interview, she protested that she tried to ask several substantive questions but that CNN would only let her participate through a silly one.

As we’ve been saying through our Voters for Peace and Security campaign, this is a critical time for voters to have accurate information about the person who will steer our foreign policy for the next four years.  We need to know which candidates will leave residual forces in Iraq, and if they will exhibit leadership in creating a nuclear-free world, starting with stopping the development of new nuclear weapons. Rather than engaging young voters who have well-thought out questions, CNN is encouraging the proliferation of superficial “debate.” Click here to tell CNN you’re outraged at the disservice they have done Ms. Parra-Sandoval and the American public.

Cross-posted on Groundswell.

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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