In an interview on CNN’s Late Edition, Bill Richardson told host Wolf Blitzer how he would handle the situation in Iraq. The interview began with Blitzer asking Richardson, Governor, why not give this new strategy that General Petraeus is trying to implement a chance?” Richardson replied, “Well, I’m pleased with that progress and I respect him very much, but the reality, Wolf, is that our troops have become the targets. This is an outright civil war, a sectarian conflict. The contrast between my position and the other candidates is that I would leave no troops in Iraq whatsoever. I would take them out in the next six months. No residual forces, because precisely they have become targets. When a majority of the Iraqi people, 61 percent, want to shoot — say it’s OK to shoot at an American soldier, and close to 70 percent want us out, that position is indefensible.”

He continued, “My view is that the best way towards reconciliation in Iraq is for a withdrawal to take place, using the leverage of a withdrawal to promote a reconciliation conference of the three groups, an all-Muslim peacekeeping force, bring Iran and Syria in. And I don’t believe anybody wants an outright civil war there, particularly Saudi Arabia, particularly Iran, surrounding Sunni countries. And then lastly, a donor conference to rebuild Iraq, but the difference, Wolf, between me and the other candidates is that they would leave troops there indefinitely, and I would not, and that’s a big difference.”

Blitzer then asked Richardson if he found the idea of maintaining a Korea like presence in Iraq unacceptable. Richardson answered, “Well, it is totally unacceptable. I’ve been in Korea many, many times, in North Korea and South Korea. The South Koreans want us there. There is no outright shooting taking place. In fact, there is a little bit of a relaxation of tensions, although we want to press the North Koreans to start dismantling their nuclear weapons.”

“But I was just there, and they turned over six remains of our American soldiers from the Korean War. It’s totally a different situation. And my concern, Wolf, is that the surge that we proposed, the policy of continuing this conflict with more troops, is going to leave us more vulnerable to Al Qaida. Our obsession with Iraq has caused us to lose focus in the fight against international terrorism and Al Qaida, nuclear proliferation, a loose nuclear weapon, and other challenges that we face, like global climate change, other issues that affect our national security in the region.”

Richardson wants to invite Iran and Syria in to act as peacekeepers? This is a really bad idea. I understand that he is trying to play to the liberal anti-war base here, but inviting Iran and Syria in to handle the security in Iraq is just asking for one of those nations to interfere in Iraqi affairs to the point where Iraq becomes a satellite state. Also, has it occurred to Bill that we will be inviting the two biggest state sponsors of terrorism in the world to operate in Iraq? Just as the Republicans are busy playing who is the biggest tax cutter among their candidates, the Democrats version of the game is who can leave the fewest troops in Iraq. Richardson is right on the money about Korea analogy though. Iraq and Korea are apples and oranges. There is no comparison.

Negotiating agreements and passing Iraq off to another country are not answers. The reality is that even if we decided to leave Iraq tomorrow, we are probably going to have to stay there a while and do a phased withdrawal. What Richardson is talking about would lead to chaos. I think a phased withdrawal would do just as much to put pressure on the Iraqi government, but it would not lead to the immediate collapse of the security situation. What we must remember is that, the United States came in to Iraq and royally screwed up their country. The least we can do before we leave is try to inject a degree of stability into the nation. Although, I hate the phrase, Richardson is talking about cutting and running, and I can’t think of a worse way to get out of the mess we are in than that.

Transcript of Richardson interview

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 6:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at
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