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Democratic Presidential Candidates Speak Out On Iraq: Tune In On June 6th

05/25/2011 12:05 pm ET
  • Robert Guttman Director, Center on Politics and Foreign Relations (CPFR), Johns Hopkins University

We have scheduled a debate exclusively on Iraq for June 6th and have invited the Democratic presidential candidates to speak freely in an unrestricted real debate setting.

No more 30 second sound bites. The candidates will have to actually spell out their plans for ending American involvement in Iraq and discuss what their plans are for the Middle East region after the Iraq War.

As Senator Joe Biden has stated, "The war in Iraq is the defining issue of our time. Yet, in standard debates, we force candidates for President to explain their plans for Iraq in sound bites. President Bush is in a state of denial about Iraq, and will leave his successor absolutely no margin for error when his term ends. The American public deserves to know how each candidate for President will handle the deteriorating situation. Join us in calling on networks to sponsor a full 90 minute debate on Iraq."

My Center on Politics and Foreign Relations at Johns Hopkins SAIS has taken up the challenge that the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has handed down.

We have sent out the invitations and Senator Biden has been the first to accept to participate in our upcoming debate on Iraq. We are looking for positive responses from the other Democratic candidates.

It is not just Senator Biden who sees Iraq as "the defining issue of our time". The other candidates -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- and the American public -- are demanding answers on the war in Iraq and American involvement in the conflict but they are not receiving them from the current administration.

Candidates, the president, Congress, talk show guests and everyone else is talking about what to do in Iraq almost on an hourly basis but the war continues and American troops and Iraqi civilians are being killed every day.

It is up to the people running for president to fully explain and lay out their details for what they will specifically do to end this war if they are elected to the presidency.

The key issue in the 2008 campaign is Iraq and it is time to discuss the "defining issue" of the campaign in a spirited, lively debate among the people, one of whom may be sitting in the Oval Office after January 20, 2009.

Senator Obama, Senator Clinton, former Senator John Edwards, Senator Biden, Governor Richardson and Senator Dodd all have plans for ending this horrible war in an honorable way and it is time to hear them.

We are offering all of the candidates a time and place and forum for completely airing his or her views, opinions and suggestions on ending this terrible conflict that has gone on way too long for no apparent reason and no end in sight.

On June 6th I invite not only the candidates but all interested voters to watch and listen to a long overdue debate on Iraq with the Democratic presidential candidates.

The candidate -- of either party -- who can convince the American voter that he or she has the right plan for Iraq will be the person we will be voting for on Election Day in November, 2008. So, let's find out their views on Iraq and make a sound decision when we cast our ballot in the primaries and general election next year.

I hope our debate on June 6th will add to the voters overall awareness of the Democratic presidential candidates' position on Iraq.