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Ear to the Ground

Edwards Lays Out Aggressive Withdrawal Plan

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Posted on Jan 2, 2008
AP photo / Charlie Niebergall

Man with a plan:  John Edwards campaigning in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday.

When it comes to setting an exact timetable for withdrawing American forces from Iraq, some Democratic candidates are more forthcoming with the details than others.  Take John Edwards, for example, who told The New York Times about his ambitious plan to bring nearly all U.S. troops home within 10 months if he is elected president.

The New York Times:

Mr. Edwards’s plan, like that of many of his Democratic opponents, is at odds with the strategy developed by American military commanders, who have said the situation is still too fragile to set a timetable for such extensive troop withdrawals and a curtailment of the training effort in Iraq.

Mr. Edwards’s plan calls for immediately withdrawing 40,000 to 50,000 troops. Nearly all of the remaining American troops would be removed within 9 or 10 months. The only force that would remain would be a 3,500-to-5,000-strong contingent that would protect the American Embassy and possibly humanitarian workers.

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By reason, January 5, 2008 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

RE: By driving bear, January 3 at 5:07 pm #
(195 comments total)

more BS from a democrat
If any one believes for a second that Edwards will pull US Troops out of Iraq I have some prime ocean front land here in Tennessee I will sell you cheaply.
Or have you forgotten that only a few months ago Edwards said we would/could not commit to the pullout of US troops from Iraq by the end of his first term. This shows Edwards is grasping at straws.

My response

This type of comment serves no puropse other than to inflame and denigrate open debate.You give no rationale and your objective seems to be to express your dislike of John Edwards and the democratic party as a whole. By the way, the ocean front property in Tennesee property’s value has dropped through the bottom in the last 9 months (try E-bay.)And,Democrats have no monopoly on BS ie; Rush Limbash (I mean Limbaugh) .
Generally I enjoy reading the views on Truthdig and recognize that every individual has a right to express themselves but this comment is like something written in a chatroom.

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driving bear's avatar

By driving bear, January 3, 2008 at 6:07 pm Link to this comment

If any one believes for a second that Edwards will pull US Troops out of Iraq I have some prime ocean front land here in Tennessee I will sell you cheaply.
Or have you forgotten that only a few months ago Edwards said we would/could not commit to the pullout of US troops from Iraq by the end of his first term. This shows Edwards is grasping at straws.

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By cyrena, January 3, 2008 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment

Jackpine Savage, Reason

Sounds like a plan to me. Seriously. I’ve been ACTIVELY behind the effort to not only reduce, but to simply eliminate our nuclear arsenal for a very long time. We can hardly lean on anyone else about theirs, (Israel comes to mind) as long as we continue to maintain the largest supply on the planet. I don’t know how likely that is to ever happen, but it would DEFINITELY be on my own presidential agenda.

The rest of the plan sounds good as well, though admittedly, while I SHOULD know more about how a military should be structured, I don’t. I know we NEED one, and I can say that many, many, members of my own family have served this country in that capacity, at various times.

Still, while I also know that the boys have their egos all busted up about losing in Vietnam, (because I call it a LOSS, not a stalemate) that SHOULD have been reason enough for them to know not to embark upon any more imperialistic agendas. When you arrogantly attack another nation with the ultimate hubris, you should EXPECT to lose. I’m not particularly ‘religious’, but right and wrong have a way of defining themselves pretty clearly in matters of aggressive and unprovoked wars. So, it’s as simple as…if I come to your house, and try to steal your stuff, and kill your family, I should EXPECT you to kick my ass, and at least attempt to run me off. Without a doubt, even a dummy can expect that you would defend yourself against me, in whatever way you had to do it.

So, it was a loss in Vietnam, and it’s been a continuing loss in Iraq. We’ve lost over 3,000 of our own, and the wounded toll is uncountable, because those wounds have led to countless other deaths (suicides among them) and families and communities ruined for decades to come. And, we’ve killed even more Iraqis, and destroyed an entire nation. So, if the egos can’t see that the war on Iraq was lost long ago, then we are doomed to continue the losses. Maybe the neoconners have stolen enough oil, but I doubt it. Since they planned to be there forever anyway, it probably doesn’t matter.

And, THAT will be the thing that any new leadership will be up against. I don’t see how it can be anymore difficult withdrawing from Iraq than it was to go in there. But, Cheney has never been willing to leave without full control of that oil, and that hasn’t happened yet. I don’t know what’s likely to happen if anyone else tries to give it up either. He won’t be happy.

Reason, I agree with you on the moderate position, as I am an Independent myself, though I usually lean to the side of the Dems. But, I agree that the moderate position is a difficult one to maintain now, and pretty much for the reasons you’ve given. It would appear to be the ‘either/or’ mentality that I’ve frequently addressed. That’s been the mindset of the mainstream for far too long now, and of course it never works, because ‘either/or’ almost always represents a RADICAL stance, with does nothing more than put us TOTALLY OUT OF BALANCE! It leaves the majority on the fringe, which can do nothing more than keep the whole thing teetering all of the time. And, nearly ALL of us can figure out that ‘out of balance’ is dangerous.

The moderate position is the safest for keeping us balanced, but it also requires constant work…adjustments as we go along, to correct for whatever the terrain or the conditions may throw at us. Nobody has been willing to do that kind of work for a long time. And, those of us who can and/or ARE willing, have been shoved to the fringe with all of the rest. What can I say?

So, I’ll throw my straw in for Edwards, and we’ll see what comes from it. I agree that he and Obama would make a good team. I’ll just have to maintain some faith in my fellow citizens.

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By Conservative Yankee, January 3, 2008 at 9:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Unlike Gulliani, Clinton, Romney, and Obama, I could vote for Edwards.  Little too Coiffed for my taste, and he did participate in the Gore surrender, but I could vote for him… just enough zap and I could actually imagine him as president.

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By jackpine savage, January 3, 2008 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

Well said, Reason.  And, Cyrena, i agree about mind changing wholeheartedly.  Unfortunately, seeing nuance and being willing to change your mind are political liabilities in modern America.

Handling the situation in Iraq will be so difficult that i suspect whoever is elected will do more to avoid the issue than deal with it.

The current structure and general staff of our military is ultra sensitive to what might be called “Vietnam Syndrome”.  They have spent these many years trying to overcome the slight to their honor that came from withdrawal without victory (or at least stalemate).

To effectively address the situation in Iraq may well require addressing the overall structure and mission of our military.  That will be incredibly difficult; however, the time may be right if the right candidate is elected to do the job.

I would propose that we need to draw down our imperial ambitions and find a way to reduce the DoD’s budget without gutting the Armed Forces.  I see two major facets of this:

First: a unilateral and deep reduction in our nuclear arsenal.  This by itself would save large dollars and would also strengthen our diplomatic hand on the issue of non-proliferation.

Second: a restructuring of our combat forces into three tiers.  The largest being composed of citizen soldiers (i.e. part-time) who function as home defense only.  They could be mobilized in the event of catastrophe, invasion, or declaration of war.  A second, smaller tier, of professional soldiers with a great deal of training in peace keeping and nation building.  This tier could be used when the world community decides to intervene somewhere, or as the deployment force for situations like Afghanistan.  And a third, even smaller, tier of very highly trained troops to serve as a rapid reaction force.

All of this would be glued together by an emphasis on training and “simple” weaponry.  Switch the emphasis of procurements from high tech razzle dazzle to weapons systems designed to fight the conflicts we are most likely to face.

Finally, the monetary savings should at first be directly reinvested into new (probably energy) technology sectors.

As it relates to withdrawal from Iraq, for the time being we would leave the top two tiers deployed…a sort of on the job training and a way to avoid precipitous withdrawal.

Oops, my brain got away from me…sorry for the long post.  But my point is that the candidates need to have a full plan, not just appealing to the popular sentiment of getting out of Iraq.

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By reason, January 3, 2008 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

This is going to be a tumultuous year in many ways, the primaries, and political conventions and, trying to make a living for themselves and/or their family. For politicians these are not problems, they are issues. For average Americans they are more than just issues. The convoluted process of primary/convention processes are so confusing that if I were into conspiracy theories I would be wondering what part the CIA was playing in it all. (Humor is like lying; in that it works best when based in truth). The average American can make little sense of the results and then there is the factor of the “media” who not only exaggerates the election process for ratings but also stirs the political pot to maintain interest. I get most of the political news on internet where I can read many views and opinions and know who is writing them. (It is important to know if the motives for presenting a news item or opinion especially when reading about political issues.) 
  Like most American citizens, I want serious change and even reversal from the policies of the Bush Administrations years in office. But, voting for a party does not guarantee anything other than a new “face” talking down to us from a position so far removed from the reality of what the middleclass and poor know as “daily life”; they might as well be deaf, dumb and blind.
  I am a moderate by nature and you would think that would be a reasonably comfortable position in politics when compared to the extremes we encounter in the news everyday but my experience is that it is the most difficult political position of all. We are so jaded with the American political process as to feel there are only two answers to the issues and problems; Yes or no, right or wrong are not always the correct answers in addressing issues and problems. I propose we need a leaders who will analyze events/problems/issues as if they will be effected by the results of their decisions (not just politically) and lead us to what he or she believes to be solutions suited to benefit the majority of this country’s citizens.
    I would like Edwards for President and Obama as Vice President presiding over a very non-partisan cabinet. This combination would offer real hope for healing the ills of our country and putting it on a path to healthy future in the world. I am not a democrat; I am an independent!

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By cyrena, January 3, 2008 at 4:57 am Link to this comment

He’s sounding better and better. I’m legitimately impressed.

And, before you naysayers have a chance to start up, let me only say this:

If you haven’t changed your mind lately, how do you know you still have one?

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