THE BLOG

The Candidates Side-by-Side on Iraq

08/21/2007 10:53 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Take a look at how the Democratic candidates compare on the key issues in the Iraq debate.


Candidate
Governor

Bill Richardson
Senator

Joe Biden

Senator

Hillary Clinton
Senator

Chris Dodd
Senator

John Edwards

Senator

Barack Obama



Supports Leaving An Indeterminate

Number Of Troops In Iraq For An Indefinite Amount Of Time
No1

Yes6
Yes11
Yes16
Yes20
Yes23




Supports The Principle Of Congress De-Authorizing The War
Yes2
Yes7

Yes12
Yes17
No21
Yes24



Supports De-Authorizing The War Now -- Before Congress Adjourns For Summer Break
Yes3
No8
No13

No
No
No25



Supports Removing All Troops Within Six Months Of De-Authorizing The War

Yes4
No
No
No
No22

No



Voted For The First Supplemental Funding Bill That Contained Loopholes Allowing Bush To Leave An Indeterminate Number

Of Troops In Iraq Indefinitely

(Vetoed By Bush) 10
N/A - Supports leaving no residual troops in Iraq. Will have all troops redeployed within 6 months. 5

Yes9
Yes14
Yes18
N/A - But ran ads after Bush vetoed the first supplemental bill stating Congress should "Send him (Bush) the same bill again and again"
Yes26




Voted for Reid-Feingold Legislation with Loopholes Allowing Bush to Leave An Indeterminate Number Or Troops in Iraq Indefinitely
N/A
Yes10
Yes15

Yes19 N/A Yes27

The documentation is on the site. I would be interested if any of the other candidate supporters take issue with these claims.

There are a couple of reasons why I post this, none of them because I support Richardson (though I certainly could; and I strongly support his position on Iraq). First, I think it's problematic if Biden's position of staying in Iraq for a longer period becomes the de facto position that Obama supports explicitly, and neither Clinton nor Edwards confronts in disagreement. If the Democrats go into '08 fuzzy on getting out of Iraq, we will lose again. The lesson of '06 would be ignored in favor of repeating the mistake of '04. And secondly, getting out of Iraq ASAP is the lynchpin for Democratic wins beyond '08.

My response as to why the differences between the Democratic candidates positioning on Iraq hasn't been a big issue is basically because the perception among Democrat partisans is that it's become the de facto position, given the '06 referendum, that we will pull out of Iraq as soon as possible when gaining the control of the Presidency, but not a day before Bush is gone will we gain an inch. In essence, I have argued that any minor differences does not have traction against the greater contrast of the Democratic vs Bush position, on ending the occupation in Iraq vs a continued military presence.

I have also thought about what would occur if a Democratic candidate won the Presidency in 2008, but then did not follow through on pulling out of Iraq completely as soon as feasible. The base would be revolting, the Republicans would be screaming about the number of soldiers dead on a Democrats watch, their approval rating would plummet, and it would be a nightmare scenario for us trying to hold onto control of Congress in the 2010 mid-term election.

I was struck by this strongly after viewing the back and forth between Richardson and Biden, and the follow-up from the frontrunners (and their acquiescence with Biden). I actually agree somewhat with Biden's position about helping to divide up Iraq, similar to how, with the UN, we did with Yugoslavia. But I don't think the time for beginning that process is the middle of 2009; by then, we should be out of Iraq. Read The War as We Saw It for a fundamental rejection of the Biden Doctrine of Occupation. Bill Richardson seems to be the only Democratic candidate that understands the importance of that happening as soon as possible, and drawing that out in as black and white terms as possible.

Regardless of whom the Democratic presidential candidate is, if we have a strong distinction to run against the Republicans over the issue of ending the occupation of Iraq, we will win. If the Democrats end the occupation as soon as possible in 2009, and not occupy Iraq a day longer than necessary, the party will be rewarded with gains in 2010. Then, following a successful majority redistricting, a decade-long congressional super-majority can culminate in 2012. But making that happen, and getting that endorsement for a progressive agenda for America, begins with fulfilling the promise to get out of Iraq as soon as Democrats take control of the government (and not fucking unilaterally then head into Pakistan or buildup in Afghanistan, or Iran, or any other middle east country, either, ever again).