The Democrats on Iraq.

The inner workings of Slate.
Sept. 7 2007 10:23 AM

The Great Presidential Mashup

The Democrats on Iraq.

On Sept. 12, Slate, Yahoo!, and the Huffington Post will host the first-ever online-only presidential candidate mashup. Armed with your questions, Charlie Rose will ask the top Democratic presidential candidates about their views on health care, Iraq, education, and other issues. Their video responses will be coded and put at your disposal—empowering you to create your own custom candidate forum. Want to hear every candidate's position on the war? Hillary's positions on every issue? Obama's view on health care? Our mashup will allow you to do all of the above.

Advertisement

But before we get there, there's homework to do. What have the candidates said on the issues so far? Are they changing their stories? Our cheat sheet on the previous debates will help you be the judge. Today, we offer background information on Iraq, one of the three issues selected by readers for the Slate/Yahoo!/Huffington Postcandidate mashup. Read the candidates' stances below. 

Sen. Joe Biden

Sen. Joe Biden  

South Carolina Debate, April 26, 2007 

Look, [the Iraq War] is not a game show. You know, this is not a football game. This is not win or lose. The fact of the matter is that the president has a fundamentally flawed policy. It's based upon the notion of being able to set a strong, central government in Baghdad that will be democratic. And the real question is: Are we going to be able to leave Iraq, get our troops out, and leave behind something other than chaos?

There's only one way. You've got to change the fundamental premise of this engagement, and that is: You've got to decentralize Iraq, you've got to give the regions control over their own destiny, get them control over their police forces, their own identity, and have a limited central government and share their oil wealth. 

New Hampshire Debate, June 3, 2007

We've not been told the truth about this war from the beginning by this president. And the fact is, we got to tell the truth now. The truth now is, there are 160,000 forces in Iraq. They're in harm's way. Seventy percent of all the injuries are caused by land—those IEDs. We know that if we put in these mine-resistant vehicles, the V-shaped-hull vehicles, put them in now, we could save two-thirds of the lives and two-thirds of the injuries. My colleagues joined me when I proposed fast-forwarding the funding for that so we could get 2,500 of them into the field by August. If we had voted no and stopped this, it would have delayed that. Lives are at stake.

I cannot—as long as there is a single troop in Iraq that I know if I take action by funding them, I increase the prospect they will live or not be injured—I cannot and will not vote no to fund them. 

CNN/YouTube Debate, July 23, 2007

You know we can't just pull out now. Let's get something straight. It's time to start to tell the truth. The truth of the matter is: If we started today, it would take one year, one year to get 160,000 troops physically out of Iraq, logistically. That's No. 1. No. 2, you cannot pull out of Iraq without the follow-on that's been projected here, unless you have a political solution. I'm the only one that's offered a political solution. And it literally means separate the parties; give them jurisdiction in their own areas; have a decentralized government, a federal system. No central government will work. And, thirdly, the fact of the matter is, the very thing everybody's quoting is the very legislation I wrote in January. It said: Begin to draw down combat troops now; get the majority of the combat troops out by March of '08. There's not one person in here that can say we're going to eliminate all troops

No. 1, there is not a single military man in this audience who will tell this senator he can get those troops out in six months if the order goes today. Let's start telling the truth. No. 1, you take all the troops out. You better have helicopters ready to take those 3,000 civilians inside the Green Zone where I have been seven times and shot at. You better make sure you have protection for them, or let them die, No. 1. So we can't leave them there. And it's going to take a minimum 5,000 troops to 10,000 just to protect our civilians. So, while you're taking them out, Governor, take everybody out. That may be necessary. No. 3, the idea that we all voted—except for me—for that appropriation. That man's son is dead. For all I know, it was an IED. Seventy percent of all the deaths occurred have been those roadside bombs. We have money in that bill to begin to build and send immediately mine-resistant vehicles that increase by 80 percent the likelihood none of your cadets will die, General. And they all voted against it. How in good conscience can you vote not to send those vehicles over there as long as there's one single, solitary troop there?

AFL-CIO Debate, Aug. 7, 2007

Bush has not told the truth for seven years; it's time we tell the truth. The truth is, if Iraq—if al-Qaida establishes a base in Iraq, all these people who talk about going into Pakistan are going to have to send your kids back to Iraq.

The fact of the matter is, it matters how we get out of Iraq. And I'm the only one on this stage that has a detailed political plan how to get out. Separate the parties. Let them be in regions. Give them control over their own security. Set up a limited central government. Begin to draw down our troops. But let's start talking the truth to the American people. 

Sen. Hillary Clinton

Sen. Hillary Clinton

South Carolina Debate, April 26, 2007 

The Congress has voted, as of today, to end this war. I'm very proud of the Congress under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid for putting together a piece of legislation which says we will fund our troops and protect them, we will limit the number of days that they can be deployed, and we will start to bring them home.

This is not America's war to win or lose. We have given the Iraqi people the chance to have freedom, to have their own country. It is up to them to decide whether or not they're going to take that chance.

I've said many times that, if I knew then what I now know, I would not have voted that way.

I think that the real question before us is, what do we do now? How do we try to persuade or require this president to change course?

I can only hope that he will not veto it. And I can only end by saying that if this president does not get us out of Iraq, when I am president, I will.

Part of our challenge is to put together the political support throughout the country, particularly within the Republican Party, to join with us to bring an end to this war.

We are in the middle of a multisided, sectarian civil war. And we are doing everything we can to begin to move us out. And we need Republican support to finish the job.

I supported President Bush when he went after al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. And then when he decided to divert attention to Iraq, it was not a decision that I would have made, had I been president, because we still haven't found Bin Laden. So let's focus on those who have attacked us and do everything we can to destroy them.

New Hampshire Debate, June 3, 2007 

I thought the best way to support our troops was to try to send a very strong message that they should begin to come home. That is the best way to support them. And I thought that vote was an opportunity to do so.

Everybody on this stage, we are all united, Wolf. We all believe that we need to try to end this war. Each of us is trying in our own way to bring the war to an end.

I think it's important particularly to point out, this is George Bush's war. He is responsible for this war. He started the war. He mismanaged the war. He escalated the war. And he refuses to end the war. And what we are trying to do, whether it's by speaking out from the outside or working and casting votes that actually make a difference from the inside, we are trying to end the war.

I asked them if it would help to have a high-level presidential envoy working with both of them to try to figure out how we can move toward what are American interests and how we can keep Pakistan from undermining the war against the Taliban and al-Qaida. Unfortunately, when I got back and I called the White House and I made this suggestion, it fell on deaf ears.

CNN/YouTube Debate, July 23, 2007 

Since the election of 2006, the Democrats have tried repeatedly to win Republican support with a simple proposition that we need to set a timeline to begin bringing our troops home now.

I happen to agree that there is no military solution, and the Iraqis refuse to pursue the political solutions. In fact, I asked the Pentagon a simple question: Have you prepared for withdrawing our troops? In response, I got a letter accusing me of being unpatriotic, that I shouldn't be asking questions.

I have done extensive work on this. And the best estimate is that we can probably move a brigade a month, if we really accelerate it, maybe a brigade and a half or two a month. That is a lot of months. My point is, they're not even planning for that in the Pentagon. You know, Mr. Berry, I am so sorry about the loss of your son. And I hope to goodness your youngest son doesn't face anything like that. But until we get this president and the Pentagon to begin to at least tell us they are planning to withdraw, we are not going to be able to turn this around.

We want to begin moving the troops out, but we want to do so safely, and orderly, and carefully. We don't want more loss of American life and Iraqi life as we attempt to withdraw, and it is time for us to admit that it's going to be complicated.

AFL-CIO Debate, Aug. 7, 2007 

I have a three-point plan to get out of Iraq, starting with redeploying our troops, but doing it responsibly and carefully, because, as many of the veterans in this audience know, taking troops out can be just as dangerous as bringing them in. And we've got to get out of Iraq smarter than we got in. Secondly, we've got to put more pressure on the Iraqi government, including withholding aid from them if they don't begin to stabilize the country themselves. And thirdly, we need an intensive diplomatic effort, regionally and internationally. But if it is a possibility that al- Qaida would stay in Iraq, I think we need to stay focused on trying to keep them on the run, as we currently are doing in Al Anbar province.