The Defining Issue of the Campaign
by Ken Camp
It's the defining issue of the 2008 campaign. Universal health care cannot be funded, education can't be funded at a level to produce consistent excellence around the country, and climate change cannot be fought adequately, unless the war in Iraq is ended and all American troops pulled out. According to the National Priorities project, the United States of America is paying an estimated $275 million per day on the Iraq war. But it's not just money that's being lost in Iraq, so are lives.
Of the four major Democratic candidates, only Governor Bill Richardson has committed to ending the war now. In the recent debate at Dartmouth, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards would not commit to getting all American troops out before 2013.
That's 6 more years of spending $275 million or more per day. Do you think we can afford it? I don't.
Look at this from another angle.
In April, I when I was attending the Progressive States Network annual gala, Kansas State Senator Donald Betts, in his speech, wondered what states might do during the upcoming fire and hurricane seasons if a natural disaster occurred and the National Guard was still being deployed as it was then. I'm sure Senator Betts would have loved ot have been wrong, but he wasn't. Only a few weeks later, tornadoes leveled a Kansas town.
But as someone who believes the war in Iraq is a complete disaster and that we need to get our troops out now (www.getourtroopsout.com), I look at the natural disaster in California and feel compelled to also ask President Bush and every candidate who thinks it is okay for our troops to remain in Iraq until 2013 or longer - where is our National Guard?
It is a sad irony that yesterday, the very day I sent fire crews to California, 300 more New Mexico National Guard members were sent to Iraq. Just when we need them most at home, more of our brave men and women, true public servants, are sent away to a war we cannot win.
Never before in our history has our National Guard, a group of dedicated men and women who serve our country and provide critical aid in the time of natural disasters been used, and re-used, for so long to fight a war tens of thousands of miles away.
They need to come home. We need them here.
This has gone on long enough. When a national disaster hits, our states depend on the National Guard. Right now, President Bush is robbing Peter to pay Paul to continue his disastrous adventure in Iraq, and when tragedy hits us here at home, Americans are stuck with the bill. This cannot continue.
2013 is too long to wait to get all American troops out of Iraq. This is the defining issue of the 2008 campaign, and if we're not careful it will still be the defining issue in 2012.
But there is no debating the New Mexico governor comment that, "From the other leading candidates we're hearing poll-tested pieties about ending the war. But when you ask them what they'll actually do, none of them will commit to getting all of our troops out of Iraq now. They won't even commit to getting all the troops out by 2013. I've committed to ending the war my first day in office, and getting all the troops out in 2009. You can hold me to it."
Here's the scary part: "If we don't elect a candidate who will get all of our troops out now, the war in Iraq may still be the defining issue in the 2012 campaign," Richardson explains.
Here's the even scarier part: If the direction of the Democratic presidential campaign does not change soon -- either with a strong shift toward a tougher anti-war stance by a front-runner or the rise of an outsider -- Richardson is very likely to be proven right.
There's an old saying that you don't take a knife to a gunfight. If you want to end the war in Iraq, then get behind the one candidate who will end it immediately and who has the foreign policy and diplomatic acumen to back up his words: Governor Bill Richardson. As Governor Richardson has said, his fellow candidates have his respect, but "it is simple fact that the next international deal negotiated by any of them will be their first."