A: We’ve misplaced priorities. We’ve got a problem growing by the hour in Afghanistan & Pakistan and all of our attention is in Iraq. The longer we remain committed to that effort, the greater the danger is for our country.
Q: But if the US were to leave quickly right now, just as the surge is beginning to show some signs of progress, the whole thing could collapse and all that progress would be for naught.
A: Look, we’ve been at this longer than WWII now, $2 billion every week here. How much longer, at what great cost do I have to continue to listen to that argument? Yes, the surge is working. What happens when we begin to redeploy? Are we going to stay there permanently? I don’t think we can, nor should we.
A: Well, first off, Iraq is not Nazi Germany. And besides, I thought it was Hitler that caused World War II, not the American people who opposed going in. So it didn’t make any sense. And then he was awfully confused about isolationism versus non-intervention. There is a big difference. Isolationism isn’t what I advocate. I advocate non-intervention, not getting involved in the internal affairs of other nations, and not pretending a country like Iraq is equivalent to Nazi Germany. Iraq had no army, no navy, no WMD, had nothing to do with 9/11, so the comparison makes no sense.
A: McCain was awfully confused about isolationism versus non-intervention. There is a big difference. Isolationism isn’t what I advocate. I advocate non-intervention, not getting involved in the internal affairs of other nations.
Q: Under what circumstances, if you were president, would you intervene outside the borders of the US in some sort of crisis around the world?
A: When Congress directed me to in the act of war. If our national security was threatened and we went through the proper procedures, Congress would say, “Our national security is involved, it is threatened and we have to act.” And Congress has that responsibility. The president is the commander in chief, and then he acts.
A: Well, yes, we do disagree on this. I don’t believe we went to the war for the right reason. There were no weapons of mass destruction. It had nothing to do with 9/11. So we were there for the wrong reason and he doesn’t understand the motivations for why they want to come here. It’s not because we are wealthy and prosperous and free. They come here because we are in their country. And even if there is an improvement, which we all hope there is, we plan to keep 14 bases over there, a huge Naval base, and we have this huge embassy. We have a permanent plan to stay there and take over these $30 trillion worth of oil in that region. And the people in those countries know that and that’s why they are very angry. And to deny that is folly.
A: I wonder if Mohamed ElBaradei knew that the Syrians were, with the help of North Korea, building a facility that would be used for the construction of nuclear weapons. The facts are that if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, the other countries in the region will acquire them as well. If they acquire a nuclear weapon, they have dedicated themselves to the extermination of the state of Israel. That’s their statement, not mine. We need to get the Europeans, who they seem to be interested in joining us in meaningful sanctions, whether it be diplomatic trade, economic & others, and put enormous pressures on Iran. Iran cannot have nuclear weapons.
A: Well, he turned out to be right, and he is going to turn out to be wrong on Iran, as he has been wrong on others. The evidence is overwhelming that they are on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons. They are arming Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, as we speak. They have supported Hamas and other terrorist organizations. There is no question about that, no matter what Mr. ElBaradei says. And so, they are a state sponsor of terror. And that’s agreed to by most people in the world. And that’s my position. I have enough information, my own knowledge and background and information that they are a nation of state-sponsored terror.
A: I will not vote for any funding that does not move us toward beginning to withdraw our troops, that does not have pressure on the Iraqi government to make the tough political decisions that they have, that does not recognize that there is a diplomatic endeavor that has to be undertaken. This has gone on now, unfortunately, for years, with the president holding on to his failed policy and with Republicans in the Senate and on the campaign trail deciding to support that failed policy, and it’s really the only way that I can register my very strong disapproval of this policy, and I will continue to do so.
Q: But some of this money goes to protect our troops from mines and IEDs.
A: I think the best way to protect our troops is to start bringing them home.
A: Well, yes. I think he’s flat wrong. His policy is failing. Here’s what I believe can happen. If we withdraw our troops, you’ve got the insurgents that have been united today with Al Qaida, with the terrorists, against our troops. That’s what unites them. If we get out, then the insurgents will start fighting the terrorists--nobody likes foreign fighters in Iraq. What we need is diplomacy. So I’m not just saying the US should get out. We should take our presence out, put some forces in Kuwait, where we are wanted, put some forces in Afghanistan, where Al Qaida and terrorism are a threat, and then bring a regional solution by our U.S. diplomacy engaging and leading, instead of overreaction and contributing to a surge that is only making things worse.
A: think it’s the only option. We’re not going to be able to sustain 160,000 troops for another year there. There’s going to be drawing down. The civil war is going to get worst. And Iraq is not going to split into three parts. It’s going to splinter into many parts. The biggest problem is the administration doesn’t deal with what’s on the ground. On the ground, you have prime minister that who is incapable--and, I think, does not have the desire--to make the kind of accommodation needed with the Sunnis. We’re in the midst of a civil war with nobody. Nobody in this administration offering a political alternative brought about by the international community.
A: I’m pleased with that progress and I respect him very much, but the reality is that our troops have become the targets. This is an outright civil war, a sectarian conflict.
Q: There is even talk now of having some sort of Korea-like presence in Iraq for decades to come. Is that unacceptable?
A: 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. It’s totally a different situation. And my concern 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.
A: I respect him very much, but the reality is that our troops have become the targets. This is an outright civil war, a sectarian conflict.
Q: There is even talk now of having some sort of Korea-like presence in Iraq for decades to come. Is that acceptable?
A: Well, it is totally unacceptable. I’ve been in Korea many, many times. It’s totally a different situation. And my concern 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.
MCCAIN: I am convinced that if we fail and we have to withdraw, they will follow us home. It will be a base for Al Qaida.Q: Iraq would then become, McCain says, the new Afghanistan, from which Al Qaida would start launching attacks against the US. What do you say to Sen. McCain?
A: Well, he’s wrong, although I respect him deeply. What we now have in Iraq is a sectarian conflict. And only after we start withdrawing our troops can the real diplomatic efforts begin to bring a reconciliation conference of the three groups in Iraq, get some kind of Dayton-type accord, a division of three entities, sharing of oil revenue, a strong federal government, and then an all-Muslim peacekeeping force to keep security there with the Iraqi forces bringing Syria, bringing Iran in. What we need is diplomatic leadership coupled with a withdrawal. So I disagree with the senator.
GIULIANI: The problem [with] the Democrats is, they’re in denial. That’s why you hear things like you heard in the debate the other night that, you know, Iran really isn’t dangerous, it’s 10 years away from nuclear weapons. Iran is not 10 years away from nuclear weapons.A: Would you use tactical nuclear weapons if necessary to prevent Iran from having a nuclear bomb?
A: You know, I was just horrified at that Republican debate. They want to keep these flawed policies in the Middle East and Iraq going. I would talk to Iran, but I would build an international coalition that would promote and push economic sanctions on them. Sanctions would work on Iran. They are susceptible to disinvestment policy.
A: We’re all frustrated with the Iraqi government. I think that given the extraordinary sacrifices that Americans have made to help them be strong and to be free, their internal squabbles are a great disappointment.
But at the same time, it does not lessen the fact that if we just up and pull out and chaos breaks loose and refugees run to the borders by the millions and destabilize the region, the ultimate effect of that will come back to haunt the US.
So, have we made huge mistakes there? Oh my heavens, yes. We certainly have. But we can’t look backwards in the rearview That’s a tiny piece of glass. We’ve got to look forward in the windshield. That’s a much bigger piece of glass. We’d better be asking ourselves, “What happens if we ultimately fail here?” Those are the implications we’ve got to put on the table first.
A: It is a huge problem. But imagine if millions and millions more go to these countries, whose infrastructure simply can’t absorb them. Then you have a destabilized region. One of the things that the US must do is to more strongly insist to the Saudis, the Jordanians, the Turks, the Kuwaitis that their involvement militarily, their involvement financially, their involvement even theologically with the more radical wings of the Islamic faith are critical for us to solve this issue.
A: I think that he’s trying to bring some sense of civil order over there.
Q: Has he done a good job over these four years?
A: We have to look where we are and where we are going forward. I think that Democrats are wrong when they say that we need to pull out now on some type of timetable. I think that is a recipe for a very dangerous situation. We’re going to have to find the correct way forward now. And the Democratic proposal and any Republicans that side with them on this immediate pullout are not doing the right thing in the American interest.
Q: But do you agree with Sen. McCain who says that the way this war was conducted over these four years has been awful?
A: Listen, I have not been entirely comfortable with the way this thing has developed either. But the fact is that we’ve got to move forward now, not looking back. I have said numerous times that I think the president was wrong to stand pat as long as he did.
A: That’s not my understanding, but I do agree that we need a political solution. I’ve had my own problems with the surge. But what I think you have to do is mix both the military & the political, to push a 3-state, 1-country solution. But you’re going to need a long-term military presence to ensure that.
A: I think you’re seeing mixed results right now. Anbar, there’s improvements taking place there. The number of attacks in Baghdad are decreasing, but you’re seeing more attacks in other places. I think you’re seeing a mixed set of results. The full scale of the deployment on the surge has not taken place yet. I don’t think we can put a full judgment in.
A: Well, [the public may agree with Democrats] on that opinion, but the date we set a deadline to pull out is the day that al Qaida will declare victory over the US. And much of the world will agree. And I don’t think the US public wants to see that taking place. The problem here is, the solution involves both Republicans and Democrats. I think it evolves more of a political solution on the ground that we don’t have in place in Iraq, and we’re going to need to have a long-term military presence in Iraq or this will continue to have civil war-type features and devolve into a terrorist state. We cannot have that taking place.
A: Well, they’re going to get it, apparently, but I regret it. I was [in Iraq] in December, and [people there] really felt that injection of a force of US military in these large, urban areas did not make much sense at all [and that task should be done by Iraqi forces]. Obviously, this is a civil war going on, and expecting US forces to be a referee in civil war in large urban areas doesn’t make a lot of sense to many people. So I regret we’re taking this step. I don’t think it’s going to work. I think it’s going to be incumbent upon the Iraqis themselves to pull this together. Their political leaders in the country to sit down and work this out, and frankly, if that doesn’t happen, our military presence there isn’t going to achieve it for them. So, I regret we’re taking this step.
A: That kind of language I think has no appropriate place today. Look, the war is all over the world today. We’ve had some 10,000 terrorist attacks. The suggestion somehow that if we’re staying in Iraq, it’s going to stop the problems occurring in London, Madrid and South Korea and elsewhere, I think has been done away with by most people who have thought about this at all. We’ve got a serious problem. We need to build international cooperation in order to succeed in this effort against global terrorism. The notion somehow that if we stay in Iraq, we’re going to deal with this problem, I think, has just been debunked over the last number of months and I hope we can move beyond that.
A: I would not have and I did not support that, whether you want to call it a surge or a reinforcement or whatever, & I didn’t because primarily I listened to the people on the ground, I listened to the generals who were in charge of the operation. Every single commander on the ground--not one of them supported such an increase or believed that it was necessary, and in fact, would be counterproductive because it would only make the Iraqis more dependent on the US. I think that the increase in the number of troops that we’ve sent to Iraq is simply the beginning of the end game. We are leaving Iraq, relatively soon.
Q: Is the US going to leave with a defeat or with a victory?
A: It remains to be seen, quite frankly. We don’t know. But I’m telling you that we are going to be leaving.
A: I am worried about it. I feel as though we have, just as you say, stretched them as far as they can be stretched. Look, it could have been and, in fact, was a noble endeavor. No one should go back on and no one should have recriminations about the fact that we tried. But at the point in time we now are looking at the situation, I’m telling you that we must begin the process of withdrawal from Iraq. It is not helping us in the all-out war, the bigger war against radical Islam.
A: I don’t think this is the way to go. I think we have to get to a political solution and that we cannot impose a military solution. I also think we’ve got to come to a bipartisan agreement here of what we can support there for us to actually be able to move forward. The worst thing to happen would be for us to precipitously pull out. But if we don’t start coming together here, Republican and Democrat, and pushing a political solution there, then I don’t think we’re on the right track to move this to some sort of conclusion. We can start getting fewer of our troops killed in Iraq.
A: The number of troops that we’re sending in will take us up from about 138,000 to a little less than 160,000. That’s still less troops than we had in Dec. 2005. So the so-called big surge actually takes us up to fewer folks than Dec. 2005.
A: That’s totally consistent with what I’ve said in the past. They’re going to have to take this handoff of the security responsibility and carry it out themselves.
Q: But do you have confidence in the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki?
A: We’ll see as the Baghdad plan goes into effect, if the Iraqi forces move into their positions. And when we’ve handed that security burden off to the Iraqis, they’re going to have as much violence as they’re willing to politically tolerate. But self-determination is self-determination
A: Well, the money’s there right now to bring the troops home. And I think that, given a choice between using the money to bring the troops home or using the money to continue the war, I think the American people want a process to begin that will bring our troops home. And then we need to announce we’re going to close those bases. And at that point, we can begin a political process.
A: Well, first of all, we all support our troops. And I believe the best way to support the troops is to bring them home. There’s money there, right now, we can use to start the process of bringing our troops home, and to start the process of bringing in an international security force. But we have to make a determination that we’re not going to let this war continue.
A: Well, the president’s trapped by his policy, and we need to help the president. There are Democrats & Republicans alike who are uniting around an alternative. And that’s why I’m bringing an alternative forward. I’m saying what many generals are saying. There’s no military solution. Now, if there’s no military solution, why in the world would we want to leave our troops there? We need to begin a political solution. That political solution starts when we determine that we’re going to withdraw, that we’re going to end the occupation, that we’re going to close the bases, that we’re going to let the Iraqis handle their own oil assets, not try to privatize oil So the president has had four years for his policies to work. They haven’t. They’ve shown to be a failure. Unfortunately, they’re predicated on lies. So let’s rescue not only this president but our nation and the world from these failed policies.
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