Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Richardson Lays Out Plans on Iraq

Over this Thanksgiving holiday, while everyone is snacking on leftovers, I will be digging up some notes from events I attended the past year that never got posted. So stop back for some Thanksgiving Leftovers.

Two weeks ago Bill Richardson held a campaign event in Marshalltown. Nearly 150 people attended the event on a blistery fall evening. Richardson focused on caring and honoring our veterans and on his Iraq policy.

Richardson laid out 4 things he would do to honor and take better care for veterans. First, Richardson would introduce a Hero's health card that veterans can use anywhere. Second, he would provide life insurance to soldiers and paid leave for family members who are forced to care for an injured troop. Next, Richardson would guarantee funding for the VA. Finally, Richardson would give all veterans a 5% cut in their federal income taxes for the rest of their lives, an idea introduce by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA). The tax cut garnered support from a couple veterans during the question and answer portion.

Richardson then discussed what he would do in Iraq. He stressed that he would have all US troops out of Iraq in 1 year with no residual forces. He said he is not just saying it, he means it. A jab at other candidates who have been less clear on their Iraq plans. Richardson referenced a poll of Iraqi's that said 65% of Iraqi's believe that it is ok to shot an American soldier. He says that real peace can not begin in Iraq until all US troops are out.

Richardson said the Maliki Government won't change because they are in power and they won't change until they have to. Richardson said that we won't just leave the Iraqi's to fend for themselves. He would lead a diplomatic effort between the Sunni, Shia, and Kurds to set up a power agreement, with perhaps a soft partition. UN peacekeepers would be sent in from countries that are stakeholders in the region, like Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey. The there would be a US led donor conference with countries in the region to help fund Iraqi reconstruction because an unstable Iraq is not good for the region.

Richardson stressed his experience as a diplomat throughout the event. He even told a story of Saddam Hussein telling him a joke in the middle of negotiations for the release of some prisoners.

One of the best lines of the night was when Richardson said, "the US can't be the world's policeman, but we can be the world's conscience."

I agree the most with Richardson's views on Iraq. I believe our troops have accomplished their mission and it is time to bring them home because they are now fueling the violence and are stuck in a civil war. All the candidates talk about withdrawaling troops from Iraq and using diplomacy, but Richardson is the only one who talks about in this way and has firsthand experience in diplomatic efforts worldwide.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I'm surprised Richardson hasn't garnered more support. He truly seems to be a quality candidate.