Per Yglesias: Indeed, Bill Richardson may be asking the important questions, vis a vis Iraq withdrawal, but the record should reflect that his own answers aren't very realistic. As recorded here, and elsewhere, Richardson claimed, at the CNN/YouTube Debate, that withdrawal was possible in six months. Yet, recalling the obstacles Michael Duffy mentioned in his piece for Time ("How to Leave Iraq") it's crystal clear that six months is a naive estimation.
But Matt's larger point, which also brings the Duffy article to mind, is worth reiterating:
Speaking only for myself, I've been a little more out in front of grasping this absurdity than many others, and have been somewhat slagged for suggesting that the Democratic candidates are substituting "sloganeering" for leveling with the American people. That's why this New York Times article is valuable, for providing cogent and succinct descriptions of the policies the Dem frontrunners actually support in Iraq, to be compared to the promises, panderings, compromises and bargainings they'll do between now and election day on the campaign trail. To wit:
I'm not sure many liberals have really grasped how absurd it is that we seem destined to witness a 2008 campaign in which both major party nominees support continuing the war. Nor do the Clinton/Obama/Edwards camps seem to have given serious consideration to the fact that their general election adversary will probably find it relatively easy to ridicule this "end the war, but keep fighting it" stance the Democrats have all adopted.
John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, would keep troops in the region to intervene in an Iraqi genocide and be prepared for military action if violence spills into other countries. Senator =Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York would leave residual forces to fight terrorism and to stabilize the Kurdish region in the north. And Senator Barack Obama of Illinois would leave a military presence of as-yet unspecified size in Iraq to provide security for American personnel, fight terrorism and train Iraqis.Yeah, well, okay then: precisely NONE of the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination support the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. It's just that simple. I'd go further, and suggest that the reasons Obama lays out for retaining a "military presence" of "unspecified size"--provide security, train Iraqis, fight the terrorists--are EXACTLY THE SAME reasons the Administration currently cites for why we must stay the course.