John Edwards

December 10, 2007

John Edwards says the Senate “had an important responsibility in standing up to [Bush] and stopping him on the vote on whether to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.”

In response to the President’s reaction to the NIE report released earlier in the week, Edwards said,

What — what I believe is that this president, who just a few weeks ago was talking about World War III, he, the vice president, the neocons have been on a march to possible war with Iran for a long time. We know that they've prepared contingency plans for a military attack. My view is that the — this has been going on since the famous "Axis of Evil" speech, and the United States Senate had an important responsibility in standing up to him and stopping him on the vote on whether to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. The president says we're in a global war on terror, and then he declares the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization and also a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction. It's absolutely clear and eerily similar to what we saw with Iraq, where they were headed — and there's a different approach, a smart approach using our friends in Europe and the European banking system to deal with this.

Senator Clinton says “many of us believe that,” the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are proliferators of mass destruction and turned attention to Edwards and Obama

The following question was asked at the NPR debates (transcript):

Senator Clinton, as some of your opponents have noted, in September you voted on a resolution involving the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which, among other things, called them proliferators of mass destruction. In view of this latest intelligence estimate, which says Iran's nuclear program was stopped in 2003, do you believe that's still true?

When Clinton failed to answer the question directly, moderator Steve Inskeep said, “Forgive me,” and reiterated the question, “are the Revolutionary Guards proliferators of mass destruction?”

Clinton responded,

Well, many of us believe that. You know, earlier this year, Senator Edwards told an audience in Israel that the nuclear threat from Iran was the greatest threat to our generation. Back in 2004, Senator Obama told the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board that he would even consider nuke — surgical strikes by missiles to take out Iran's nuclear capacity. So there was a very broadly based belief that they were pursuing a nuclear weapon.

Edwards responded in disagreement, though never addressing his comment to the Israeli audience, and said,

…It was important for us to stand up because what Bush and Cheney did after the vote in the Senate is they declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization and a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction.

Obama contended that Clinton took his quote out of context,

…what I was specifically asked about was if Iran was developing nuclear weapons, how could we respond? And in those situations, what I said is we should keep options on the table. But what I've been consistent about was … that we needed to oppose George Bush again.

November 19, 2007

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 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.

November 07, 2007

Clinton deals with fallout from controversial Iran amendment at debate

In MSNBC's recent debate, Hillary Clinton was forced to go on the defensive regarding her vote last month to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a global terrorist entity. Clinton was forced to repeatedly deny any support of an attack on Iran.

Well, first of all, I am against a rush to war.  I was the first person on this stage and one of the very first in the Congress to go to the floor of the Senate back in February and say George Bush had no authority to take any military action in Iran.         

Secondly, I am not in favor of this rush for war, but I'm also not in favor of doing nothing. Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is in the forefront of that, as they are in the sponsorship of terrorism. So some may want a false choice between rushing to war -- which is the way the Republicans sound; it's not even a question of whether, it's a question of when and what weapons to use -- and doing nothing. I prefer vigorous diplomacy, and I happen to think economic sanctions are part of vigorous diplomacy. We use them with respect to North Korea. We use them with respect to Libya. And many of us who voted for that resolution said that this is not anything other than an expression of support for using economic sanctions with respect to diplomacy.

Chris Dodd, who voted against the amendment, saw things differently,

This issue is going to come back to haunt us. We all learned, some of us here painfully, back in 2002 that by voting for an authorization regarding Iraq, that despite the language of that resolution, which called for diplomacy at the time, this administration used that resolution, obviously, to pursue a very aggressive action in Iraq.

Joe Biden, who also voted “no”,  criticized the vote further,

Let's look at what happened from the moment that vote took place.      

Oil prices went up to $90 a barrel. Who benefits from that?  All this talk of war, all this talk of declaring people to be terrorists, drove up the price of oil.         

Secondly, we have emboldened Bush at a minimum. His talk of World War III, totally irresponsible talk. We've emboldened him, Tim, to be able to move if he chooses to move.  They're terrorists. The fact that they're terrorists on one side of the border or the other, we've just declared them terrorists.  That gives him the color of right to move against them.               

Thirdly, this has incredible consequences for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nobody talks about this. Do 75 of our colleagues not understand?  We have now driven underground every moderate in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. This literally -- literally -- puts Karzai, as well as Musharraf, in jeopardy.            

The notion here is it plays into this whole urban legend that America is on a crusade against Islam. This was bad -- if nothing else happens, not another single thing, this was bad policy.

The president had the ability to do everything that that amendment, that resolution called for without us talking to it. And all it has done is hurt us, even if not another single action is taken. Actions  have consequences. Big nations can't bluff.

Barrack Obama was absent for the vote, but joined in criticizing the outcome of the vote,

I don't think we should be talking about attacking Iran at this point, for some of the reasons that Chris and Joe just talked about. Look, we have been seeing, during the Republican debates, the drumbeat of war. The president has been talking about World War III. That is a continuation of the kinds of foreign policy that rejects diplomacy and sees military action as the only tool available to us to influence the region. And what we should be doing is reaching out aggressively to our allies but also talking to our enemies and focusing on those areas where we do not accept their actions, whether it be terrorism or developing nuclear weapons, but also talking to Iran directly about the potential carrots that we can provide, in terms of them being involved in the World Trade Organization, or beginning to look at the possibilities of diplomatic relations being normalized.

We have not made those serious attempts. This kind of resolution does not send the right signal to the region. It doesn't send the right signal to our allies or our enemies, and as a consequence, I think over the long term it weakens our capacity to influence Iran.

John Edwards went further in his criticism,

Well, I just listened to what Senator Clinton said, and she said she wanted to maximize pressure on the Bush administration.  So the way to do that is to vote yes on a resolution that looks like it was written literally by the neocons?  I mean, has anyone read this thing?  I mean, it literally gave Bush and Cheney exactly what they wanted.      

It didn't just give them what they wanted; they acted on it.  A few weeks later, they declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization and -- this is going to sound very familiar remember from Iraq, the prelude to Iraq? -- proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.  The way you put pressure on this administration is you stand up to -- you say no.

A lot of us on this stage have learned our lessons the hard way, that you give this president an inch and he will take a mile. And this is about such an important issue, and we have to stand up to this president.  We need to make it absolutely clear that we have no intention of letting Bush, Cheney or this administration invade Iraq (sic) because they have been rattling the saber over and over and over.

And what this resolution did, written literally in the language of the neocons, is it enables this president to do exactly what he wants to do. He continues to march forward.  He continues to say this is a terrorist organization.  He continues to say these are proliferators    of weapons of mass destruction.  How in the world is that Democrats? We're not talking about Republicans now, Chris and Joe -- Democrats standing up to this president and saying no, we are not going to allow this; we are not going to allow this march to war in Iran.

Full debate transcript here.

November 06, 2007

John Edwards on Halting the Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

Presidential Candidates Assert that Bush has No Authority to Attack Iran

In a letter sent to President Bush on Thursday, thirty senators warned against attacking Iran, saying that Bush has “no authority.” The letter also expressed concern about aggressive rhetoric from the White House. Bush recently insinuated that if Iran even gained the “knowledge necessary” to make a nuclear weapon it could lead to World War III.

Signers of the letter included presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Joseph Biden.

Senators Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd are both cosponsoring a Senate Resolution “affirming that any offensive military action taken against Iran must be explicitly approved by Congress before such action may be initiated.”
Hillary Clinton also recently cosponsored senate bill S-759, a bill to block funding for an Iran attack.
ABC reported that “tucked inside”  Bush’s massive $196 billion Iraq spending bill is $88 million to equip B-2 stealth bombers to carry the “Big Blue” bunker busting bomb. The Big Blue weighs in at an incredible 30,000 lbs--15 tons--and the B-2s need to be outfitted with a special rack to be able to carry just one bomb.

The request referred to “an urgent operational need from theater commanders.” As Rebecca Griffin of Peace Action reported, there is no practical application of this weapon in Iraq or Afghanistan. Iran’s hardened and buried nuclear facilities, however, would seem a likely target.

Meanwhile, Zogby publicized the results of a telephone survey claiming that 52% of Americans ¬would support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, and 53% believe it is likely that the U.S. will be involved in a military strike against Iran before the next presidential election,

Hillary Clinton led the survey as the candidate “best equipped to deal with Iran” with 21% of the total vote. Rudy Giuliani and John “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” McCain were the second and third choices. 

October 22, 2007

Nevada Carpenters for Edwards – October 20

I attended the Carpenter's union hall meeting for John Edwards on Saturday morning, where several hundred union workers attended. The Carpenters Union in Nevada, one of the largest and most politically active unions in the state with over 12,000 members, endorsed Edwards for President last month. Edwards has also received support from the United Steel Workers of America and the Transport Workers of America, giving him the largest bloc of labor support for any presidential candidate in Nevada. They first showed a film about the erosion of the working class in the US, and went on to show Edwards commitment to the middle class labor issues. He did not take any questions after his presentation.
However, afterwards, I elbowed my way past throngs of eager carpenters to shake Senator Edward's hand, and had the opportunity to ask him if he was opposed to the development of new nuclear weapons in the US. He paused, smiled, turned to the crowd and said, "Yes, I am. And I can even do better than that—and would like to do away with all nuclear weapons".
Thank you very much Senator Edwards-that is exactly what I wanted to know!

October 02, 2007

Edwards sides with Obama on Pakistan military strikes

AP reports that presidential candidate John Edwards, speaking before an audience at Pace University, said that he would invade Pakistan to eradicate terror cells if it were "necessary."  These comments come on the heels of Barack Obama's recent mini-scandal after he announced the exact same policy and was labeled as "inexperienced" by the media. Edwards seems to have been unaffected by the widespread criticism of Obama's interventionalist stance, and in fact, reiterates the position almost exactly:

I want to be clear about one thing: If we have actionable intelligence about imminent terrorist activity and the Pakistani government refuses to act, we will.

While AP says that Edwards' "act" would likely be a military strike or some kind of invasion, the candidate said that other methods should be used to persuade governments not to harbor terrorist cells.

We ought to use our tremendous tools - diplomacy, arm sales, trade, foreign aid - to get states to shut down terror cells.


October 01, 2007

Reno: Elizabeth Edwards clarifies her husband's position on Iraq

September 30 --   At a town hall at the Carpenter’s Union in Reno, local peace activist and Peace Action West volunteer Lisa Stiller asked Elizabeth Edwards to clarify her husband’s comments in debate in New Hampshire on September 26.  Edwards dismayed many peace voters when he said he could not guarantee that all the troops would be out of Iraq by the end of his term in 2013.  (See the MSNBC website,

Remove all troops... within nine to ten months

P1010429     Elizabeth Edwards said that her husband's current plan to get of Iraq is to remove about 40-50,000 troops immediately,  “National Guard and reservists who shouldn’t be there in the first place.”   She said that her husband would then work with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to remove the rest of the troops within nine to ten months.

Except for one brigade to protect the embassy

    She said he would leave one brigade there to protect the embassy – about 3500 troops.   She said that this force was needed to protect the embassy staff. “The only way you can get all the troops out of there is to not have an embassy,” she said.

    She also said that there could also be some humanitarian efforts by American charitable institutions that would require protection.   In contrast, she said that Senator Clinton’s plan would leave some troops in Iraq with a combat mission.

Blackwater mercenaries need to go

P1010427    Another community member asked about the Blackwater mercenaries.   “The mercenaries paid for by the American government need to come home”  Elizabeth Edwards said to wild applause.  “Right now they are supposedly protecting the embassy staff,”  she continued, "but there is no reason that we should not have American troops” doing that job. 

“There should be no reason to have American forces there that are not governed by the rules of engagement,” she stated.

Reconstruction... hire Iraqis, don't import workers from Asia

She also talked about Bechtel and the reconstruction efforts in Iraq.   She said that we have been employing Asians for those jobs, and that we have not been employing Iraqis.  “The unemployment rate is 70 percent – and then we wonder why there is unrest."


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