THE BLOG
06/07/2007 05:23 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Democratic Presidential Candidates Speak Out on Ending the Iraq War at Johns Hopkins SAIS Center on Politics and Foreign Relations/ Financial Times Debate

"All the Democratic presidential candidates agree that the war in Iraq has to end but how it ends is important. We have to end it responsibly," said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman and 2008 presidential candidate Joe Biden at our Democratic presidential debate on Iraq last night at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington, D.C.

"People who voted for the war should not run for or be president of the United States," remarked Ohio Congressman and 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich at our two hour event focusing exclusively on Iraq yesterday.

"Senators running for president are too incompetent to be president because of their early votes on the Iraq War", commented former Alaska Senator and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Gravel.

As far as I know our two hour discussion/debate only on Iraq was the first one held in the 2008 presidential campaign.

The idea originated with Senator Joe Biden who challenged someone to put on a debate only on Iraq and our Center and the Financial Times did just that.

Our audience of nearly 400 people appreciated the lengthy discussions on how the candidates would end American involvement in Iraq.

We were sorry that the other Democratic presidential candidates did not show up because of scheduling conflicts or because they had to tend to the fundraising side of the campaign. But, we tried quite hard to have all the candidates be participants in the topic of Iraq, the issue that dominates the 2008 presidential campaign.

Senator Biden is an impressive speaker and debater. I would hate to think that other candidates stayed away from our Iraq debate because of his debating skills.

All the campaigns know that we stand ready to host them again on the topic of Iraq. I hope we get a larger turnout of candidates in the fall on this topic.

But, the senator from Delaware impressed the audience with his knowledge of Iraq and of his plan to end the war "by leaving a stable state when we leave".

Being the most practical of the three Democratic presidential candidates at our Iraq debate the senator stated, "federalism is the best effort for peace in Iraq". He discussed his plan for peace and de-centralization in Iraq.

In the end Biden said peace will come about as it did in the Balkans by states with an interest in the region working together around a table through some hard bargaining and coming up with a workable plan.

"Peace is a process," commented Biden, "and there is no benefit from other countries in the region from seeing Iraq's civil war going into chaos."

Other countries in the region "know we aren't going to stay in Iraq" and "we have to enlist these other powers in the Middle East to help us". "No one wants disintegration in Iraq" because this is not in other countries in the region's "self interest".

The senator is probably correct that the end game in Iraq will take place around a negotiating table with everyone acting in their own "self-interest" by not wanting an unstable and chaotic nation as a neighbor.

As Biden points out "there is nothing like watching negotiations in a single room".
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has a sensible plan for ending our involvement in Iraq and leaving the country in a stable condition. As far as I can see from reading all the other plans of presidential candidates of both parties this plan by Biden is one of the most practical and probably one that will work. He should be listened to on the subject of Iraq as he has a lot worthwhile to say.

Congressman Kucinich, on the other hand, seems to be inhabiting a different planet from the rest of us. His views are simply not practical. Sure, it would be wonderful to outlaw war as an instrument of national policy but it is totally impractical. The Kellogg-Briand pact tried to outlaw war to no avail many years ago. Kucinich who "rejects war as a doctrine of national security" sees "the world interconnected and the oneness of the world".

He has introduced HR 1234 to end the war in Iraq in the House of Representatives.
I wonder how his views relate to the world of today. His views would make some sense in some perfect world but unfortunately we are not yet in that type of perfect world.

I guess it is good that someone is out there preaching his doctrine of "oneness" but he does it in a not very friendly manner which puts many people off not particularly by his idealistic views but more by his abrasive personality.

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel turned out not to be your "wild and crazy uncle that you hide in your attic" but a warm and engaging speaker. While his views on ending the war are probably out of the mainstream when he discusses jail terms and fines for the president and others in his administration for their handling of the Iraq War he is much more friendly and soft spoken than Kucinich.

Gravel has a good sense of history and was much better informed than I would have thought before meeting him. He has little chance of winning his party's nomination for president but more power to him for presenting his views on Iraq. When most people his age are retired and enjoying a quiet life he is out running for president so hats off to him for showing there is no age limit to someone running for the nation's highest office.