Wednesday, September 19, 2007
INITIAL POST: A rare moment of rationality during the presidential campaign:
For once, a prominent national political figure talks about the occupation without reference to inside the beltway talking points. No nonsense about the success of the surge, no claims that the Congress will set deadlines for withdrawing some troops someday in the future, no blaming the Iraqis themselves for the chaos inflicted upon their society as a consequence of the 2003 invasion.
Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson on Wednesday called for the U.S. to end the war in Iraq, arguing that the troops exacerbate the sectarian violence and the billions spent could be used for health care and other needs.
"We're a nation that spends $5.5 billion in cancer research - that's two weeks of the Iraq war," Richardson told The Associated Press. "It shows the misguided priorities."
"We are being bled dry by an invasion that is costing us $500 billion so far - $500 billion," he said, stressing the cost. "And it's detracting from American security objectives in dealing with terrorism, with nuclear proliferation, with energy independence."
In an hourlong interview with AP editors and reporters, the New Mexico governor argued that all combat and non-combat troops should be removed from Iraq because their presence is only contributing to violence instead of bringing security.
"There's no question there's tribal and ethnic hatreds," Richardson told The Associated Press. "But when those tribal and ethnic hatreds are fueled by American policy of hostility, then you make the situation worse."
Being a retail politician of the old school, elected governor in a small state, New Mexico, where personal contact is essential, he apparently struck upon the rather quaint notion of listening to what the Iraqis themselves have to say about the occupation. Indeed, Cindy Sheehan could have scripted these remarks for him. If this were 1968 or 1972, Richardson might get somewhere with it. But, it's 2007, going on 2008, and the media will effectively submerge his message by classifying him among the irrelevant candidates based upon his inability to raise incomprehensible sums of money.