if I were President today, I would withdraw American troops by the end of this calendar year. I would have no residual force whatsoever.
Richardson, in just the last couple of months, has brokered landmark deals in Darfur and North Korea -- efforts that had stymied the Bush Administration through two terms. There is no one in American politics today more respected and accomplished on foreign policy than Bill Richardson.
Compare this to Hillary Clinton, who talks about "ending the war", yet the fine print of her plan shows she'd keep up to 75,000 American troops in Iraq.
Compare this to Barack Obama, who would still leave an undisclosed number of troops in Iraq:
The plan allows for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq as basic force protection, to engage in counter-terrorism and to continue the training of Iraqi security forces.
Compare this to John Edwards:
Edwards believes that sufficient forces should remain in the region, working in concert with the international community, to ensure that instability in Iraq does not spillover and create a regional war, a terrorist haven, or spark a genocide.
Of all the top candidates, Richardson is the only candidate who currently advocates a complete withdrawal from Iraq. That he's also the sharpest mind on foreign policy issues isn't a coincidence.
Update: The Edwards campaign emailed me to explain/clarify their position:
When we say complete withdrawal we mean it. No more war. No combat troops in the country. Period. But we're also being honest. If John Edwards is president, we're not going to leave the American Embassy in Iraq as the only undefended embassy in the world, for example. There will be Marine guards there, just like there are at our embassies in London, Riyadh, and Tokyo. And just the same, if American civilians are providing humanitarian relief to the Iraqi people, we're going to protect them. How in good conscience could we refuse to protect them and then allow humanitarian workers to be at risk for their lives or the work not to happen at all? Finally, it's also Senator Edwards' position that we will have troops in the region to prevent the sectarian violence in Iraq from spilling over into other countries, for counter-terrorism, or to prevent a genocide. But in the region means in the region - for example, existing bases like Kuwait, naval presence in the Persian Gulf, and so forth. I hope this helps explain Senator Edwards' position. Thanks for standing up for what we all believe in.