What About the Generals?

A campaign blog.
Jan. 5 2008 10:04 PM

What About the Generals?

Almost all of the hawkish Republican candidates have skirted questions about what they’d do in Iraq by saying they’d defer to their generals. It lets them avoid the sticky details while vaguely committing themselves to the war effort.

So Gibson confronts the Dems with the flipside of that question: Would they still pull the troops out if their generals said they needed more time?

Edwards tries to have it both ways. On the one hand, he says, it’s the responsibility of the president to make policy. That said, "I would listen to the generals—directly. … If they say we need more time, of course I’d listen to what they say." But he still promises to "end the occupation of Iraq within one year."

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At no point does he acknowledge that these two actions -- listening to his generals (with a willingness to act on their advice) and pulling all combat troops out -- could be utterly at odds. A better question might have been: What would you do if your generals told you they needed another 20 years in Iraq?

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

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