During a Thursday morning press conference in the Rose Garden, President Bush talked more about the reasons why the United States needs to be in Iraq. “Failure in Iraq will cause generations to suffer, in my judgment. Al Qaeda will be emboldened. They will say, yes, once again, we’ve driven the great soft America out of a part of the region. It will cause them to be able to recruit more. It will give them safe haven. They are a direct threat to the United States…It’s better to fight them there than here. And this concept about, well, maybe let’s just kind of just leave them alone and maybe they’ll be all right is naive. These people attacked us before we were in Iraq. They viciously attacked us before we were in Iraq, and they’ve been attacking ever since.

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards later released a statement about Bush’s remarks. “There’s a word for doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. George Bush has made America less safe and less respected in the world. And the Republican presidential candidates, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, are competing to see who can be the bigger, badder George Bush. Is that really what America wants?”, Edwards asked. 

“As I said yesterday, the core of the Bush presidency is a political doctrine they call the Global War on Terror. They use it to justify all the worst abuses of this administration – from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo to the assault on civil liberties to the war in Iraq. The one thing it doesn’t do is the one thing it’s supposed to do – by the Administration’s own admission, the threat of terrorism is up, not down,” Edwards said.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney had his own, somewhat odd, interpretation of Edwards’ comments. “Remember that old Edmund Burke quote, it’s a famous quote, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ And that, I am afraid is the boiled down version of what John Edwards said, is that good men should do nothing. Put their head in the sand and hope it all goes away,” Romney told an audience at a campaign stop in Jacksonville, FL.  By the way, where is Romney’s plan for Iraq? Oh right, he doesn’t have one. I guess he is planning on staying the course like George W.

I don’t know where Republicans are getting this do nothing, leave the terrorists alone talking point. What the Bush administration and the top tier GOP presidential candidates refuse to acknowledge is that if Iraq is a part of the war on terror, it got there through Republican mismanagement of the war. I guess the GOP talking point is predicated on the myth that there is no civil war in Iraq, and we are fighting al-Qaeda there. The vast majority of the planning for attacks on Americans is done by Iraqis with Iranian help. Financing seems to be coming from Iran and other Middle Eastern nations, and 90% of the insurgents are Iraqis.

Edwards wants to withdraw 40,000-50,000 troops right away. He would withdraw the rest over the next 12-18 months. He wants to leave some troops in Iraq to carry out anti-terrorism operations, and to make sure that genocide does not occur. Edwards has this idea that we should fight the terrorists where they are, not invade a country where they aren’t, then leave the borders open so that they can come in after us. In contrast, Mitt Romney’s website doesn’t even mention the Iraq war by name and only speaks in general terms about, “beating the jihadists.”

At least Edwards has a plan to do something, Romney won’t even discuss Iraq outside of broad generalizations. I think Edwards is right. The GOP contenders are fighting over whom the biggest and baddest is, while trying to fool voters on the issue of Iraq. The truth is that a vote for any of the top 3 Republicans is a vote for four more years of staying the course in Iraq. Unless the troops are home by Election Day 2008, I don’t see how the Republicans are going to win, because no matter whom they nominate, this war will drag them down.

Bush press conference

John Edwards press release



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