After yesterday's post updating where the Democratic candidates stand on permanent bases in Iraq, saying we still needed to learn more about Sens. Chris Dodd and Barack Obama, a reader pointed LiberalOasis to Obama's bill, "Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007," which has a "No Permanent Bases" clause, and also to this Daily Kos diarist who directly asked Obama about the issue and was succinctly told, "No permanent bases."
Regarding Sen. Dodd, he was on CNN today and said:
If you accept the logic that [the Bush Administration is] offering here, then we would never leave, I suppose, under any circumstances. And that doesn't make any sense to anyone at all.
Sen. Dodd is slated to deliver an address on his foreign policy vision tonight. LiberalOasis will post any relevant info from the speech.
Frankly, at the time, I wasn't totally sure Richardson meant what he said to be as absolute as it sounded.
But at what I believe is a new page on his website, it's quite clear:
No Residual Forces Left Behind: We must remove ALL of our troops. There should be no residual US forces left in Iraq. Most Iraqis, and most others in the region, believe that we are there for their oil, and this perception is exploited by both Al Qaeda and anti-American Shia groups. By announcing that we intend to remove all troops, we would deprive them of this propaganda tool.
Does this mean Richardson stands alone as the only candidate, besides Dennis Kucinich, who would really end the occupation?
(LiberalOasis noted as much when the Iraq Study Group report came down, and Conn Carroll put that to me in our Bloggingheads.tv segment.)
But in LiberalOasis' view, there's a big difference between forces actually on a temporary, tightly defined mission to root out Al Qaeda or train Iraqis, and using those tasks as a cover to unstated, destabilizing, unilateralist foreign policy goals.
Welsh is certainly correct that Richardson's position is "unfudgeable".
But I would not put the other candidates on the wrong side on the neocon line if they don't adopt Richardson's exact position. Whether or not they are fudging is a judgment call for individual voters to make based on the totality of their record.
And the best way for candidates to convince voters they are not fudging, is not to only say "no permanent bases" at selected venues, but to put it in the context of an overarching foreign policy vision -- that is a direct contrast to the dangerous neocon vision -- and make it a central focus of the campaign.