Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christopher Dodd on Withdrawing Troops And Presidential Bid

Connecticut's Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd has come out in favor of beginning an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, saying that "…the president should announce in January that we will begin withdrawing and redeploying our troops."

In an editorial in the Sunday Des Moines Register -- and clearly laying the groundwork for the Iowa presidential caucuses -- Dodd was very direct from the first sentence of his column.

"The time has come for the United States to begin the process of getting our troops out of Iraq," wrote Dodd, who many think will indeed run for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

An excerpt:
"In Baghdad last week, I joined in a conversation with a West Point graduate who is serving in Iraq. He said, 'Senator, it is nuts over here. Soldiers are being asked to do work we're not trained to do. I'm doing work that State Department people are far more prepared to do in fostering democracy, but they're not allowed to come off the bases because it's too dangerous here. It doesn't make any sense.'

"After spending six days in the Middle East last week - which included visits with the top leaders in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel - it's hard not to come to the same conclusion: Our strategy in Iraq makes no sense. It never really did. It is as bad in person as it appears on television. There are literally dozens of sects, militias, gangs, warlords, foreign terrorists and others killing one another for dozens of reasons in Iraq today, and American troops are caught in the crossfire.

"Our brave men and women have done everything asked of them with great courage and honor, but searching for military solutions in Iraq today is a fool's errand. True peace and security in Iraq will not come at the end of an American gun. It will only happen to the degree that Iraq's leaders are willing to take responsibility for governing their own country and securing their own future. America's position should be clear: Iraqis must show they want a country now, or American troops should begin to withdraw."
Dodd has said that he will evaluate in the next month or two whether or not to pursue the presidency, but that the state of the world and the fact that he has young children enters significantly into his choice.

"I've got two very young daughters that I'm going to celebrate Christmas with tomorrow and I want them to grow up in a century in this country that offers as many opportunities as those provided to my generation," said Dodd, when appearing on ABC's This Week on Sunday. "And those are the motivations I'm thinking about and on the basis of that and the other factors as to whether or not I can win this race and attract additional support is something that I'll evaluate over the next couple of weeks."

But he conceded that he has been looking at a presidential run since the summer, including having staff already assembled in early primary states.

"I began the process of looking at it seriously last June," he said. " It's gone well over the summer and fall months. I've been to the critical caucus and primary states, put together a good staff to try to raise the necessary resources."

"I'm very worried, as I think many Americans are, about our conditions at home and abroad and whether or not America is going to be a stable and secure country in the 21st century."