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A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have! - Thomas Jefferson

Friday, December 28, 2007

In New Ad, Richardson Continues to Stake Out Differences on Iraq

The Richardson for President campaign today is unveiling a new ad on Iraq in Iowa entitled "A Way Out." The ad continues to distinguish New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson from the rest of the Presidential field on the Iraq war, both in regard to his experience and plan moving forward.

To see the ad and background materials, click here.

"This ad continues to sharpen Governor Richardson's argument on Iraq as we move into the final week before the Iowa caucuses," campaign manager Dave Contarino said. "Bill Richardson is the only major candidate who will get all of our troops out of Iraq. He is the only candidate who has negotiated successfully with leaders in the Middle East. Simply put, Bill Richardson is the most seasoned leader with the boldest plan on Iraq.

"Other candidates now are trying to change their position on the Iraq war. Senator Hillary Clinton recently said that we could get all of our troops out within a year after claiming for months that it was not possible. Bill Richardson has been right on Iraq from the start of this race. He is ready to bring our troops home and end this war."

Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and John Edwards have been asked to pledge to pull all of our troops out of Iraq by 2013. They have not done so. Bill Richardson has made that pledge.

In addition, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards have suggested that we should pull out all of our combat troops and leave tens of thousands of non-combat troops behind in Iraq. Removing our combat troops first is a reckless strategy that will undermine unit cohesion and result in an extremely dangerous situation for our remaining brave men and women. This course of action is irresponsible. A rapid and coordinated withdrawal of all American troops is the smartest path toward a political reconciliation in Iraq.

To read more about the differences between the candidates on Iraq, please visit TheDifferenceOnIraq.com.

The ad, which is running statewide in Iowa, was produced by Steve Murphy and Mark Putnam of Murphy Putnam Media.

The Richardson Plan for Ending the Iraq War

We must get ALL of our troops out quickly and safely so that a new political process can begin.
Our military presence in Iraq is prolonging the violence, costing us more than $10 billion a month, and distracting us from the war against al-Qaida. George Bush's "surge" has suppressed some of the violence, at least temporarily, but it has failed to bring about political reconciliation. Our troops have done everything we have asked them to do, but they cannot win someone else's civil war. Now it is up to the Iraqis. We need to get our troops out so that a new political process can begin.

My plan will end the war and stabilize Iraq; the most important step, upon which all others depend, is to remove ALL of our troops quickly.

What we need to do:

Remove ALL of our Troops: Only when the Iraqis know we are leaving will they start seeing us as partners rather than occupiers. A complete withdrawal gives us the leverage we now lack to get the warring factions to compromise, while our presence fuels the insurgency. The Iraqis must take responsibility for their country, and only a complete withdrawal gives them the incentive to kick out al-Qaida and heal their country. Any plan that leaves troops behind will allow the war to drag on and cost more American lives.

Withdraw as Quickly as Possible: We should start redeploying now. The longer we stay, the more people die, the further the situation deteriorates, and the more damage we do, both to our military and reputation. Only when we are out of this quagmire can we refocus on the real war against Al-Qaida-- the terrorists who attacked us on 9-11 and who still are headquartered along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, not in Iraq.

A Diplomatic Surge: Iraq's crisis is a political crisis. It cannot be solved militarily. We need a surge of diplomacy to bring Iraq's factions together, engage all of Iraq's neighbors in stabilization, and put together a coalition of donor nations to aid in reconstruction.

How we do it:

De-authorize the War and Fund Redeployment: Last November, the American people voted for the Democrats because they expected them to end the war. Congress should do what it was elected to: pass a resolution that de-authorizes the war under Article 1 of the Constitution and the War Powers Act. It should pass funding only to redeploy our troops safely, not to leave them endlessly in the middle of a civil war. Congress can and should act now to end this war.

Remove ALL of our Troops from Iraq: We must get our troops out of Iraq as safely as possible and in no later than 2009. Since the war began, we have rotated up to 240,000 troops into and out of Iraq in as few as 3 months. The logistics and details of a withdrawal must come from our military commanders on the ground.I hope that Congress will force President Bush to end this war, but if Congress fails, I will instruct our military leaders to get our troops out as quickly as possible. Steps should include:

Identify the units we can phase out quickly. Support units and their large bases should go first and combat units next.

Identify the equipment we can leave to the Iraqis and the equipment we must bring home.
Move troops and equipment into Kuwait and to regional bases where we are welcome, such as in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

Redeploy troops from these regional bases to Afghanistan and other locations where they can fight actual threats to America. In addition, we should bring home as many troops as possible to rejoin their families.

Lead a Regional and Global Diplomatic Effort: The hard political work will begin once our troops start to leave.

We must use the leverage of our withdrawal to bring the factions to the negotiating table.
The United States must lead this effort and involve all of Iraq's neighbors, including Syria and Iran, in a regional conference modeled on the Dayton conference which ended the war in Bosnia. Key objectives of the conference should be assurances of non-interference and the creation of a multilateral, United Nations-led Muslim peacekeeping force.

We also must convene a donor conference of wealthy Arab states to fund the reconstruction of Iraq. All of Iraq's neighbors have an interest in preventing the civil war from spiraling even further out of control; they all should play a part in quelling the violence.

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