Thursday, 5 April 2007

The elephant in the '08 election room

No doubt Iraq will be a very hot issue this election. Who ever wins will have to inherit — clean up (or even worsen) — the mess President Bush has made there over the past few years. By the time of the election, the US occupation, assuming troops stay as the president intends, would be past its five and a half year mark. The New York Times has lined up a handful of candidates — Republicans and Democrats — showing their positions on Iraq issues.

Brownback, McCain, and Hunter, all of who voted to approve the war in 2002, are the only three listed candidates who still voice their support for the war. Most others have either called their 'yes' vote a mistake or, if they did not vote, criticized the handling of the war (i.e., it might have worked out if not for the Bush administration’s poor policies). That group includes Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, Richardson (who did not vote on the war but is now opposed because of faulty evidence for war), Hagel, Huckabee (did not like handling of war; did not vote), Tancredo, Romney (did not vote but opposes handling of war), and Tommy Thompson (same as Romney).

A smaller number voted 'no' and/or voiced their opposition to the war effort from the beginning — Obama, Kucinich, and Gravel — and Giuliani showed support for the initial invasion. Most Republicans — hold Brownback and Hagel, among others — were supportive of Bush’s troop increase ('surge'); all listed Democrats stand in opposition. Kucinich and Gravel both support withdrawing US troops from Iraq now.

Republican Tommy Thompson has the interesting idea of letting the Iraqis decide when and how the US leaves — the only unique stance out of all the candidates. Romney, Guiliani, and McCain are the only three who stubbornly support keeping the occupation as it is — maintaining troop levels. Three out of eight of the Democrats — Dodd, Clinton, and Obama — support phased redeployment; three out of nine of the Republicans — Brownback, Huckabee, and Hunter — support gradually giving control to the Iraqis. There is a wide contrast of views, with Biden and Richardson saying get out of Iraq by the end of 2007 and Edwards supporting withdrawal within 18 months.

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