As Congress holds hearings on the new Iraq reports, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War are standing watch and demanding that Congress end the occupation. Two Democratic presidential candidates are also standing watch and asking for our help. With the continuing song-and-dance in DC over the next blank check and faux bipartisanship, it’s critical that we make our voices heard … and that we make them loud. And both candidates are offering us tools to do just that.
Stand one is pushing for action right now. There are various schemes in play in Washington to address the next round of funding for more occupation but Senator Chris Dodd has just announced his opposition to the reported Levin-Reed plan: “Rather than picking up votes, by removing the deadline to get our troops out of Iraq you have lost this Democrat’s vote… It is clear that half measures are not going to stop this President or end this war. I cannot and will not support any measure that does not have a firm and enforceable deadline to complete the redeployment of combat troops from Iraq. Only then will Congress be able to send a clear message to the President that we are changing course in Iraq, and a message to the Iraqis that they need to get their political house in order.
Dodd’s campaign has built a “Write Your Senator” tool so we can say “No” to these schemes too: Let’s all take a minute and make sure our Senators hear from us today.
Stand two is pushing for clear answers from our 2008 candidates. As Chris Bowers wrote last night in his very important post – Democrats Grossly Misinformed on Candidate Plans for Iraq:
…if Democrats end up nominating a candidate who supports a substantial residual forces plan while thinking that candidate will actually withdraw virtually all troops in a short period of time, then basically our party will have been hoodwinked in a manner not unlike the way the war was first sold to the American public back in 2002 and 2003.
I’ve just been on a call with Gov. Bill Richardson and he discussed this very problem. As many of you know, he’s taken a clear “no residual forces” position. Richardson asked the other candidates to detail how many troops they would leave in Iraq at the last debate but – as Chris Bowers has noted – this is a question no one else seems to want to answer.
On our call, the Governor spoke about Senators Clinton, Obama and Edwards saying that they want to end the war and giving the impression that the plans of all are candidates are similar. Richardson said “That’s just not true. All three would leave troops behind indefinitely and American lives hang in the balance.” He also noted that “this is the time to debate these points not after we have a nominee…. We need to have not merely a slogan, we need to have a plan to match the rhetoric.”
Gov. Richardson is insisting that we, the voters, have a right to know where each of our candidates stand on this critical question. His campaign has created a petition demanding that “the next debate sponsors get a straight answer from every candidate: How many troops would you leave behind? for how long?” Again, this is one step you can take today – sign the petition and insist that we get answers.
It becomes clearer each day that we cannot simply rely on the new majority to end the occupation nor can we passively accept the candidates’ claims that they will end the war. We need facts not empty promises and we need firm action from our representatives. We need to keep the pressure on. We too need to stand watch.