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John Edwards on War & Peace

2004 Democratic Nominee for Vice President; Former Jr Senator (NC)


2002: Saddam has WMD and is trying to get nuclear weapons

"Almost no one disagrees with these basic facts. That he has weapons of mass destruction and that he is doing everything in his power to get nuclear weapons."
--Sen. John Edwards, Sept. 12, 2002

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members."
--Sen. Hillary Clinton, Oct. 10, 2002

"Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There's no question about that."
--Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Nov. 17, 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
--Sen. Edward Kennedy, Sept. 27, 2003

"If we wait for the danger to become clear, it could be too late."
--Sen. Joseph Biden, Sept. 4, 2002

Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 28-29 Oct 1, 2008

There has been no meaningful political progress in Iraq

Everyone from the Iraq Study Group to Bush recognized that unless the Sunni and Shia reach some political reconciliation, there cannot be stability in Iraq. The problem with this definition and evaluation of where the progress has been made is that there has been no meaningful political progress. I don’t think it changes anything. In the first year that I am president, I will have all combat troops out of Iraq. All combat missions will end in Iraq, and there will be no permanent military bases in Iraq.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008

Stop the neocons march to war with Iran

Q: What about the president’s assessment that Iran still poses a threat?

A: This president, the V.P., & the neocons have been on a march to possible war with Iran for a long time. They’ve prepared contingency plans for a military attack. My view is that this has been going on since the famous “Axis of Evil” speech, and the US Senate had an important responsibility in standing up to him and stopping him on the vote on whether to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate Dec 13, 2007

Muslim dislike from Bush’s bullying abusive behavior

What’s driving this belief about [dislike between] America and the Muslim community around the world is the bullying, selfish, abusive behavior of George Bush and this administration. I think that the most important thing for America to do is to demonstrate that we have a responsibility not just to ourselves but to humanity, and to help make education available to fight global poverty. We need to take serious steps to demonstrate that America’s actually worthy of leadership.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate Dec 13, 2007

Iran military resolution enables Bush to invade Iran

We need to make it absolutely clear that we have no intention of letting Bush, Cheney, or this administration invade Iran because they have been rattling the saber over and over and over. What this resolution did, written literally in the language of the neo-cons, is it enables Bush to do exactly what he wants to do. He continues to march forward. He continues to say this is a terrorist organization. He continues to say these are proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

Keep Iran from developing a nuclear bomb

Q: Would you pledge to the American people that Iran will not develop a nuclear bomb while you are president?

A: What I will do is take all the responsible steps that can be taken to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

All combat troops out of Iraq in the first year in office

If you believe that combat missions should be continued in Iraq over the long term, that combat troops should remain stationed in Iraq, there should be no actual timetable for withdrawal, then Senator Clinton is your candidate. I don’t. We need to end combat missions; we need to get combat troops out of Iraq. As president of the US, I will do that. It’s a requirement of leadership, as president. I will do it in my first year in office: combat missions ended, combat troops out of Iraq.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

GOP candidates are Bush on steroids; Dems would all end war

Q: Can most of the troops be out by December?

A: It would be hard to do by December. I think we can responsibly and in a very orderly way bring our troops out over the next 9 or 10 months. But any Democratic president will end this war. That’s what we know. And the differences between all of us are very small compared to the differences between us and the Republican candidates, who the best I can tell are George Bush on steroids. They’re going to keep this war going as long as it can possibly go.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” Aug 19, 2007

The War on Terror is just a bumper sticker slogan

I will do absolutely everything to find terrorists where they are, to stop them before they can do harm to us, before they can do harm to the US or to its allies. Every tool available-military, alliances, intelligence-I will use. But what this global war on terror bumper sticker-political slogan, it’s all it’s ever been. It was intended to do was for Bush to use it to justify everything he does. The ongoing war in Iraq, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, spying on Americans, torture, none of those things are OK.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Drive wedge between Iranian people & radical leader

Beyond just talking about diplomacy, the Iranian people actually rallied for the US on the streets of Tehran after 9/11. There’s a long history of pro-American sentiment in Iran. There is an extraordinary opportunity available to us on Iran. They have a president who is politically unpopular. The people are in a different place. He hasn’t done what he promised to do when he was elected president. We don’t have economic leverage over the Iranians, but the Europeans do, the European banking system does. We should put two options on the table. One, carrots; we’ll make the nuclear fuel available, the international community, but we’ll control it, you can’t nuclearize or weaponize it. Two, we’re going to put a clear set of economic incentives on the table. It needs to be not behind closed doors. And then the alternative, the stick, is if they don’t do that, there are going to be serious economic sanctions. We need to drive a wedge between the Iranian people and this radical leader.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Get bin Laden, period, even if in Pakistan

Q: [to Obama]: You said back in August you would go into western Pakistan if you had actionable intelligence to go after al Qaeda, whether or not the Pakistani government agreed. Isn’t that essentially the Bush doctrine? We can attack if we want to, no matter the sovereignty of the Pakistanis?

OBAMA: No, that is not the same thing, because here we have a situation where Al Qaida is in the territory of Pakistan. And this is not speculation. This is not a situation where we anticipate a possible threat in the future.

Q: Senator Edwards, do you agree with him?

EDWARDS: If I as president of the United States know where Osama bin Laden is, I would go get him, period. This man is the mastermind of a mass murder in the United States of America. He is public enemy number one, as Al Qaida is.

Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Democratic primary debate Jan 6, 2006

We were attacked by Osama bin Laden, not Saddam Hussein

Q: If Kerry & Edwards had been president & vice president, would Saddam still be in power?

A: Saddam Hussein needed to be confronted. Kerry and I have consistently said that. That’s why we voted for the resolution. But it also means it needed to be done the right way. It means that we were prepared; that we gave the weapons inspectors time to find out what we now know, that in fact there were no weapons of mass destruction; that we didn’t take our eye off the ball, which are Al Qaida, Osama bin Laden, the people who attacked us on 9/11. Now, remember, we went into Afghanistan, which was the right thing to do. But we had bin Laden cornered at Tora Bora. We had the 10th Mountain Division up in Uzbekistan available. And what did we do? The Bush administration gave the responsibility of capturing and/or killing bin Laden to Afghan warlords who, just a few weeks before, had been working with bin Laden. Our point in this is not complicated: We were attacked by Al Qaida and bin Laden.

Source: Edwards-Cheney debate: 2004 Vice Presidential Oct 5, 2004

Cheney keeps suggesting a connection between Iraq and 9/11

CHENEY: 20 years ago we had a similar situation in El Salvador. Guerrilla insurgents controlled roughly a third of the country, 75,000 people dead, and we held free elections. I was there as an observer on behalf of the Congress. The human drive for freedom, the determination of these people to vote, was unbelievable. And today El Salvador is a whale of a lot better because we held free elections. The power of that concept is enormous. And it will apply in Afghanistan, and it will apply as well in Iraq.

EDWARDS: Iran has moved forward with its nuclear weapons program. They’re more dangerous today than they were four years ago. North Korea has moved forward with their nuclear weapons program, gone from one to two nuclear weapons to 6 to 8 nuclear weapons. This vice president has been an advocate for over a decade for lifting sanctions against Iran, the largest state sponsor of terrorism on the planet. It’s a mistake. We should not only not lift them, we should strengthen those sanctions.

Source: Edwards-Cheney debate: 2004 Vice Presidential Oct 5, 2004

America cannot be safe without help and respect of allies

We have got to restore our respect in the world to bring our allies to us and with us. It is how we won the Cold War. It is how we won two world wars. And it is how we will build a stable Iraq. With a new president who strengthens and leads our alliances, we can get NATO to help secure Iraq. We can ensure that Iraq’s neighbors, like Syria and Iran, don’t stand in the way of a democratic Iraq. We can help Iraq’s economy by getting other countries to forgive their enormous debt and participate in the reconstruction. We will bring the world to our side, and with it a stable Iraq, a real chance for freedom and peace in the Middle East, including a safe and secure Israel. We’ll bring the world together to face the most dangerous threat we have: the possibility of terrorists getting their hands on a chemical, biological, or nuclear weapon.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 28, 2004

Implement 9/11 Report; focus on al Qaeda

We have to do more to fight the war on terrorism and keep the American people safe. We will listen to the wisdom of the September 11 commission. We will lead strong alliances. We will safeguard and secure our weapons of mass destruction. We will strengthen our homeland security. We will always use our military might to keep the American people safe. We will have one clear unmistakable message for al Qaeda and these terrorists: You cannot run. You cannot hide. We will destroy you.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 28, 2004

Work with allies to shut down North Korea’s nuclear program

The U.S. must deal with North Korea firmly, directly, and immediately. Working with allies, our urgent priority must be to shut down North Korea’s nuclear program. We also have to work to put North Korea on a path of political and economic openness, and toward the peaceful resolution of all tensions with our ally South Korea.
Source: 2004 Presidential National Political Awareness Test Mar 3, 2004

Don’t negotiate with Arafat, but build trust with envoy

Q: Are you willing to negotiate directly with Hamas, and would Yasser Arafat have a seat at that table? EDWARDS: No. There is clear, overwhelming evidence of Arafat’s connection to terrorism. I think a two-state solution is ultimately the answer. [We need] to create some level of trust. For example, going to the Palestinians and saying, “Arrest these leaders of Hamas who we both know are involved in terrorism,” and saying to the Israelis, “In exchange, we expect you to allow freer passage in the West Bank.“

Q: But if the Palestinian leaders say, ”We’re not willing to arrest these people, but this is what we are willing to do,“ how much would you negotiate with Hamas?

EDWARDS: The most critical thing is for us to be engaged. That’s what’s been missing from this administration. [Bush] flies in, he has a photo-op, he leaves. We need to be on the ground constantly. We have to find ways to reduce the level of violence, to create some level of trust so that we can move toward peace.

Source: Democratic 2004 Presidential Primary Debate in Iowa Jan 4, 2004

Leadership means standing up for what you believe in

Q: Please respond to the variety of opinions expressed by your rivals on the Iraq war.

LIEBERMAN: This is a test of leadership. I don’t know how John Kerry and John Edwards can say they support the war but oppose funding. I’ve been over Clark’s record. He took six positions on whether going to war was right.

EDWARDS: Leadership is standing up for what you believe in. I believe Saddam was a threat; I voted for the congressional resolution. Then the president says, “I want $87 billion.” I am not willing to give a blank check.

KERRY: I have the experience of being on the front lines when the policy has gone wrong. Our troops are in greater danger because this president’s been unwilling to share the burden.

CLARK: I want to make it clear that I would not have voted on $87 billion. The best welfare for the troops is a winning strategy. We ought to call on our commander in chief to produce it. He ought to produce it before he gets one additional penny.

Source: Democratic Presidential 2004 Primary Debate in Detroit Oct 27, 2003

Negotiating with North Korea would make world safer

Q: North Korea seems willing to give up nuclear weapons for food and money. What is your plan for solving these situations?

EDWARDS: We should negotiate with the North Koreans. We should be tough. We should require that they stop their nuclear development program, nuclear weapons development program. We should have the absolute ability to verify that that has occurred. We should be willing to do something in return.

Source: Democratic Presidential 2004 Primary Debate in Detroit Oct 27, 2003

Work with other nations in war on terror

Edwards believes America must lead the world - not by acting alone, but by using our power and influence with other nations to protect our interests. Edwards calls for action to eliminate the threat of weapons of mass destruction, win the war on terrorism, and promote democracy and freedom internationally, particularly in the Middle East. Edwards believes that through a stronger commitment to work together with other nations, the US will better be in position to shape the world in which we live.
Source: Campaign website, johnedwards2004.com, “Key Issues” Jul 17, 2003

Bush’s preemption doctrine is unnecessary and unwise

Q: Will you repeal Bush’s pre-emptive war doctrine?

A: The Bush administration asserted a new doctrine that suggests a uniquely American right to use force wherever and whenever we decide it’s appropriate. America must have a foreign policy that leads in a way that brings others to us, not that drives them away. And I say to every American family: your family is safer in a world where America is looked up to and respected, not in a world where America is hated.

Source: MoveOn.org interview Jun 17, 2003


John Edwards on Iraq War

Have all combat troops out in 2009

I will have all combat troops out in the first year that I’m president, and there will be no further combat missions, and there will be no permanent military bases. As long as you keep combat troops in Iraq, you continue the occupation. If you keep military bases in Iraq, you’re continuing the occupation. The occupation must end. As respects Al Qaida, public enemy number one, they’re responsible for about 10 percent of the violence inside Iraq according to the reports. I would keep a quick reaction force in Kuwait in case it became necessary, but that is different than keeping troops stationed inside. That is different than keeping troops stationed inside Iraq, because keeping troops stationed inside Iraq and continuing combat missions, whether it’s against Al Qaida or anyone else, at least from my perspective, is a continuation of the occupation. A continuation of the occupation continues the problem, not just in reality, but in perception that America’s occupying the country
Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Las Vegas Jan 15, 2008

Keep troops at embassy & border, but out of civil war

Q: Your opponent, Gov. Bill Richardson, issued this statement about you: “Edwards says he would get all of the combat troops out of Iraq, but he would leave behind thousands of non-combat troops in the middle of a civil war. History teaches us that putting undermanned forces in the middle of sectarian conflict is a recipe for disaster.” Is he correct?

A: No, of course he’s not correct. Unless we’re going to close the embassy in Baghdad, there’d have to be some troops in Baghdad for purposes of protecting the embassy. I’ve also said that we do need to maintain quick reaction forces just outside of Iraq.

Q: You would have significant combat troops outside of Iraq but on the border prepared to go into Iraq for combat duty?

A: Senator Clinton has said she will maintain troops inside Iraq, and that they will engage in combat missions inside Iraq. I will not do that. To me, that is a continuation of the war, and this war needs to be brought to an end.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Oct 7, 2007

End combat missions & focus on removing all combat troops

EDWARDS: [To Clinton]: Good people have differences about this issue. I heard Senator Clinton say on Sunday that she wants to continue combat missions in Iraq. To me, that’s a continuation of the war. I do not think we should continue combat missions in Iraq, and when I’m on a stage with the Republican nominee come the fall of 2008, I’m going to make it clear that I’m for ending the war.

CLINTON: I said there may be a continuing counterterrorism mission, which, if it still exists, will be aimed at al Qaeda in Iraq. It may require combat, Special Operations Forces or some other form of that, but the vast majority of our combat troops should be out.

EDWARDS: I would not continue combat missions in Iraq. Combat missions mean that the war is continuing

Q: Would you send combat troops back in if there was genocide?

EDWARDS: I believe that America along with the rest of the world would have a responsibility to respond to genocide. But it’s not something we should do alone.

Source: (X-ref Clinton) 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth Sep 26, 2007

40,000 troops out by 2009, but no pledge for all out by 2013

Q: Will you commit that at the end of your first term, in 2013, all US troops will be out of Iraq?

A: I cannot make that commitment. I can tell you what I would do as president. If there are in fact, as General Petraeus suggests, 100,000 American troops on the ground in Iraq, I will immediately draw down 40,000 to 50,000 troops and, over the course of the next several months, continue to bring our combat troops out of Iraq until all of our combat troops are in fact out of Iraq. I think the problem is, we will maintain an embassy in Baghdad. That embassy has to be protected. We will probably have humanitarian workers in Iraq. They have to be protected. I think somewhere in the neighborhood of a brigade of troops will be necessary to accomplish that--3,500 to 5,000 troops. Everyone up here wants to take a responsible course to end the war in Iraq. And the debate will be between a Democrat who wants to bring the war to an end, & a Republican who wants to continue the war.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 26, 2007

Focus on political progress in Iraq

Q: What’s your assessment of the Gen. Petraeus testimony on Iraq?

A: My view about it is that both the administration and Gen. Petraeus are not focused on what is the only important question, which is, has there been political progress in Iraq? Because unless and until there’s some political compromise between Sunni and Shia, there could not be stability in Iraq and the violence will continue. Without political progress, what’s the purpose of us being here? I mean, what is the purpose of all the lives being lost? What’s the purpose of now $500 billion and counting? But there’s absolutely no indication that the Sunni and Shia are any closer today than they have been in reaching a political solution. So I think the Congress needs to make him change course. If he vetoes a funding bill with the timetable for withdrawal, I think that they should submit another bill with a timetable for withdrawal and they should continue to do that until he’s forced to change course in Iraq.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Congress has a mandate to defund war to force Bush out

Q: What should Democrats in Congress do about Iraq?

A: Congress has a mandate from the American people, and that mandate is not to provide funding to this president unless there’s a timetable for withdrawal in the bill. No timetable, no funding. Because I do not believe George Bush will ever change course unless or until he’s forced to change course. And right now, I think the troops in Iraq are stuck between a president who has no plan for success. He just wants more of the same. He wants more troops. He wants more time. He wants more money. He wants more war.

Q: Do you think Congress is worried about being charged with not providing funds for men and women who are at risk?

A: This is way beyond politics now. This is literally about life and death now. The American people are behind the Congress standing its ground against the president. The Congress needs to have the strength to do what’s right and force Bush to end this war.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Troops not dying in vain if they do their duty

Q: [to Gravel]: Were the deaths of Vietnam in vain?

GRAVEL: Our soldiers died in Vietnam in vain. In Iraq, there’s only one thing worse than a soldier dying in vain; it’s more soldiers dying in vain.

Q: Are the troops in Iraq dying in vain?

OBAMA: I never think that troops who do their mission for their country, are dying in vain. But what I do think is that the civilian leadership and the commander in chief has a responsibility to make sure that they have the plans that are going to allow our troops to succeed in their mission.

EDWARDS: I don’t think any of our troops die in vain when they go and do the duty that’s been given to them by the commander in chief. No, I don’t think they died in vain. But I think the question is: What is going to be done to stop this war? What we need to do is turn up the heat on George Bush and hold him responsible and make this president change course.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

2006 elections were mandate to Congress to end the war

We need to bring this war to an end. I voted for this war; I was wrong to vote for this war; I take responsibility for that; I will have to live with that. But now we’re at an important moment because my view is that the Congress had a mandate as a result of the election last November.

The American people made it very, very clear what they wanted. They wanted to see a change, they wanted to see a different course in Iraq, and they wanted to see America leaving Iraq. Congress met its responsibility when it submitted the first bill to the president, with it funding the troops with a timetable for withdrawal. Then the president of the United States vetoed that bill. It was sent back to the Congress. It was time for the Congress to stand firm, to stand strong, and to have courage. Unfortunately that did not happen. The Congress has to force this president to end this war. Our party. We need to have backbone. It is time for us to lead again.

Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference Jun 19, 2007

Insist a funding bill with a troops withdrawal timetable

I have made very clear from the outset that the way to end the war is for the Congress to use its constitutional authority to fund. They should send the bill to Bush with a timetable for withdrawal, which they did. He vetoed it, then it came back, and then there was a moment of truth. Throughout the lead-up to the vote that I was against a funding bill that did not have a timetable for withdrawal, that it was critical for the Congress to stand firm; they were given a mandate by the American people.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Did not read pre-war NIE, but was fully informed

Q: Do you regret not reading the National Intelligence Estimate before the Iraq war vote? A: I was on the Intelligence Committee. I received direct information from that. I met with former high-level people in the Clinton administration who gave me additional information and I read the summary of the NIE. I think I had the information I needed. I don’t think that was the question. I think one difference we do have is I think I was wrong. I should never have voted for this war.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

No more debate; end war by Congress defunding it

Q: What is the best and fastest way to get out of Iraq?

A: As you probably know I voted for this war. I was wrong and I take responsibility for that. Every day this war drags on is worse for Iraq, worse for our troops, worse for our country. We don’t need more debate. We don’t need symbolic resolutions, we don’t need abstract goals. What we need are binding requirements, and we can’t wait until this President takes off in 2009. Congress should use its funding authority to force President Bush to end the war, and start immediately bringing American troops home from Iraq. I’ve been advocating for Congress to use its funding authority since I voted against the first $87 billion supplemental back in 2003. I propose we begin by capping funding levels at 100,000 troops to stop Bush’s escalation and force an immediate withdrawal of 40 to 50,000 troops.The withdrawal of all combat troops should be completed in about a year. So, that’s the outline of my plan for what out to happen.

Source: Virtual Town Hall on Iraq, sponsored by MoveOn.org Apr 10, 2007

End no-bid contracts & war profiteering in Iraq

Q: What should be done about prosecuting war profiteering in Iraq?

A: I will end war profiteering in Iraq. The Bush administration has signed no-bid contracts with Halliburton and Bechtel, and complete billions of dollars of work in Iraq. Not only does war profiteering waste taxpayer dollars, it undermines the credibility of America’s reconstruction efforts. We need to do everything in our power to get rid of fraud and abuse in Iraq. We need to hold powerful corporations like Halliburton accountable for no-bid contracts they’ve secured through cronyism. I believe in using the US Judicial system to hold powerful corporations like Halliburton responsible for their wrong-doing. For all new Iraq contracts, we should impose a cap on profits from Iraqi reconstruction. Contracts should be permitted only for a reasonable profit on their Iraq contracts, based on the average profits on comparable competitively bid government contracts, [as was done] during the first and second world wars.

Source: Virtual Town Hall on Iraq, sponsored by MoveOn.org Apr 10, 2007

Citizens should speak out for immediate action to end war

We need political courage to trump political calculation. We know George Bush & Karl Rove will deploy the full fury of their PR machine to blame Democrats for Bush’s choice to veto funding for the troops. There are many people in Washington that are gonn be tempted to cry uncle, and let Bush win another round in this fight.

Where will Congress find the courage to stand firm? They’ll find it in your letters. They’ll find it in your calls. They will find it in your voice. Forty years ago, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a sermon speaking out against the war in Vietnam. He said, “There comes a time in all of our lives where silence is a betrayal.” That has never been more true than it is today. In the weeks and months to come, our voice has extraordinary power to really change things. We have a responsibility to use that power to the absolute fullest. So, that’s what I’m committing to: using every opportunity I have in this campaign to speak out for immediate action to end this war.

Source: Virtual Town Hall on Iraq, sponsored by MoveOn.org Apr 10, 2007

Draw down 40,000 to 50,000 troops right now

It is not enough to debate, give speeches and pass nonbinding resolutions. It is time for us, the leaders in the US Congress, to stop George Bush’s escalation of this war -- for us to stand up strongly and firmly. This is not a time for a political calculation. It’s a time for political courage. This is not about politics, this is about men and women who are losing their lives in Iraq.

We need to be leaving Iraq. We need to start leaving now. We should draw down 40,000 to 50,000 troops now. We should continue an orderly redeployment out of Iraq over the course of the next year or so. We ought to engage the Iranians and the Syrians directly in to help stabilizing Iraq.

We’ve had six years of a president who will take no responsibility for what he’s done, six years of a president who is incapable of admitting that he was wrong, incapable of admitting that he’s made a mistake. It’s time for a different kind of leadership in this country.

Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada Feb 21, 2007

I accept responsibility for the huge price of war on America

Q: Sen. Kennedy, Gen. Zinni, Gen. Scowcroft--all had some real caveats & urged caution. The NIE said, “The activities we have detected do not add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing. nuclear weapons.” Do you remember seeing that?

A: I did see it. All of us believed there was no question that he had chemical & biological weapons, and there was at least some scattered evidence that he was making an effort to get nuclear weapons.

Q: But it seems as if, as a member of the Intelligence Committee, you just got it dead wrong, and that you even ignored some caveats & ignored people who were urging caution.

A: I don’t want to defend this. Anybody who wants to be president has got to be honest & open, be willing to admit when they’ve done things wrong. We’ve had a president who was completely unmoving, wouldn’t change course, wouldn’t take responsibility or admit that he’d made any mistakes. And I think America & the world has paid a huge price for that. So I accept my responsibility

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Feb 4, 2007

Not naive to think that Iraq can become a democracy

Q: In this video, you seemed to embrace the Bush vision of what could happen in Iraq.
(Videotape Oct. 7, 2002)

Democracy will not spring up by itself overnight in a multiethnic, complicated society that’s suffered under one repressive regime after another for generations. The Iraqi people deserve and need our help to rebuild their lives and to create a prosperous, thriving, open society. All Iraqis, including Sunnis, Shia and Kurds, deserve to be represented. This is not just a moral imperative. It’s a security imperative. It is in America’s national interest to help build an Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbors, because a democratic, tolerant and accountable Iraq will be a peaceful regional partner, & such an Iraq could serve as a model for the entire Arab world.
Q: Do you think that was naive?

A: No. Had the war in Iraq been executed the way that it should have been executed, I think there would be a much greater likelihood of there being a democratic Iraq.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Feb 4, 2007

No funding for the surge, but continue funding the troops

Q: If you were in the Senate, would you vote to cut off funding for the war?

A: What I would do is, is say we’re not going to fund an escalation of this war. I would not cut off funding for the men & women who are part of our troops serving in Iraq. The surge of 20,000-plus troops may turn into 40,000 troops, because there’s 20,000-plus combat troops who will have to be supported. The president & Cheney are counting on us that we’ll complain about it, we’ll talk about how bad the escalation is, but, at the end of the day, we’ll go along. We cannot go along.

Q: So stop the money for the surge?

A: That would pay for the escalation, that’s correct.

Q: But if Democrats voted to cut off funding for the troops who are part of the surge, the accusation would be they’re not supporting the men and women.

A: [We need a bill saying that] in order for more troops above the levels that are there now to be put into Iraq, the president would first have to come to Congress.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Feb 4, 2007

Stop escalation of war & restore US’s moral leadership

It is a betrayal not to speak out against the escalation of the war in Iraq. It is a betrayal for this President to send more troops into harm’s way when we know it will not succeed in bringing stability to the region. Being satisfied with non-binding resolutions we know this President will ignore is a betrayal. Changing course in Iraq is the first step in restoring America’s ability to provide moral leadership in the world. And make no mistake: America must lead.
Source: Campaign website, johnedwards.com Feb 1, 2007

Pull 40,000 to 50,000 troops out in 1st year as President

In the first year that I am president, I will pull 40000 to 50000 troops out. I will continue a steady redeployment of combat troops out of Iraq until they are all out within about 9 to 10 months. If my military leadership says we need some more time to make sure that we can do this in the most effective, efficient, & the safest way for my troops, of course I’d be listening to what they have to say. But I will end combat missions in Iraq in the first year, and there will be no permanent military bases.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Democratic primary debate Jan 6, 2006

Stop propping the Sunni and Shia up with American lives

It is the responsibility of the president and the commander in chief to make policy decisions. I would always listen to my uniformed military leadership--directly, not filtered through civilians. But if you look at what happened in Iraq when the Brits began to pull their troops out, in the part of Iraq where those troops were located, there was a significant reduction in violence. What the whole purpose--just to be clear with people--the whole purpose for the surge was to create some environment where there could be political progress and political reconciliation between Sunni and Shia. Everyone believes, even Bush acknowledges that that’s what we’re trying to accomplish. How do you get there? Look at the loss of American lives; $600 billion and counting; and there’s been essentially no political progress. I don’t believe that there will be political progress until we make it clear that we’re going to stop propping the Sunni and Shia up with American lives and with American taxpayer dollars.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Democratic primary debate Jan 6, 2006

FactCheck: US portion of coalition losses is 88%, not 90%

EDWARDS: We’ve taken 90% of the coalition causalities . American taxpayers have borne 90% of the costs of the effort in Iraq.

CHENEY: The 90% figure is just dead wrong. When you include the Iraqi security forces that have suffered casualties, as well a the allies, they’ve taken almost 50% of the casualties in operations in Iraq , which leaves the US with 50%, not 90%.

FACT CHECK: Both men have a point here, but Edwards is closer to the mark. Edwards is correct counting only “coalition” forces-those of the US, Britain and the other countries that took part in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. 1,066 US service men and women had died from hostile action and other causes during the Iraq operation as of Oct. 5, of a total 1,205 for all coalition countries. That’s just over 88% of the coalition deaths. For Iraqi security forces, estimates put the figure at 750, producing a total of 1,955. Of that, the Iraqi portion is 38% (not “almost 50%” as Cheney claimed) and the US total amounts to 55%.

Source: Edwards-Cheney debate analysis by FactCheck.org Oct 6, 2004

Cheney has no answer for the failure to have adequate troops

Cheney is inconsistent with everything they see every day. It’s a continuation of, “Well, there’s a strong connection between Al Qaida & Saddam Hussein.” It’s not true. It’s a continuation of at least insinuating that there’s some connection between 9/11 & Saddam Hussein. It’s not true. It’s saying, as Bush said last Thursday, and Cheney continues to say tonight, that things are going well in Iraq, contrary to what people who have been there have seen, including Republican leaders, contrary to what everyone in America sees every day-Americans being kidnapped, beheaded, parts of the country under the control of insurgents, even today, under the control of the insurgents. Cheney has still not said anything about what Bremer said, about the failure to have adequate troops, the failure to be able to secure Iraq in the short term. Remember “shock and awe”? Look at where we are now. It is a direct result of the failure to plan, the failure to have others involved in this effort. This is not an accident.
Source: Edwards-Cheney debate: 2004 Vice Presidential Oct 5, 2004

Reports say there are not enough troops to secure Iraq

EDWARDS: We lost more troops month after month. There are Republican leaders, like John McCain, Richard Lugar, and Chuck Hagel, who have said Iraq is a mess and it’s getting worse. Lugar said because of the incompetence of the administration. What Paul Bremer said yesterday is they didn’t have enough troops to secure the country. They also didn’t have a plan to win the peace. They also didn’t put the alliances together to make this successful.

CHENEY: We’ve made significant progress in Iraq. We’ve stood up a new government that’s been in power now only 90 days. The notion of additional troops is talked about frequently, but the point of success in Iraq will be reached when we have turned governance over to the Iraqi people; they have been able to establish a democratic government. They’re well on their way to doing that. They will have free elections next January for the first time in history. We also are actively, rapidly training Iraqis to take on the security responsibility.

Source: Edwards-Cheney debate: 2004 Vice Presidential Oct 5, 2004

Never fight a war without enough troops and a plan to win

We guarantee every man and woman in our armed forces that you will always be the best-led, best-equipped, and most respected fighting force in the world. You will be armed with the right weapons, trained in the right skills, and fully prepared to win on the battlefield. You will never again be sent into harm’s way without enough troops, nor asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace, and given assignments which have not been clearly defined and for which you are not professionally trained.
Source: [Xref Kerry] Our Plan for America , p. 17 Aug 10, 2004

Iraq war has cost America dearly

Q: In light of Thursday’s Senate report, knowing what you know now, would you have voted differently on the war?

A: What we know from the intelligence report, there are several things. One is that the Al Qaeda-Hussein connection was not there. I did not believe there was a strong Al Qaeda-Hussein connection. My view is that what Bush has done in Iraq and his planning for winning the peace, has cost America dearly, and cost the possibility of success dearly. That’s our focus, is what we would do, given the situation we’re now in. So trying to go back and re-evaluate what we would have done is not useful to us now.

Source: New York Times, “Bad Iraq Intelligence Cost Lives” Jul 11, 2004

Immediately get NATO involved in Iraq

To rebuild Iraq, I will immediately turn over oversight of the civilian authority to the United Nations. The U.S. must play a central role in helping Iraq become safe and secure. I will work with our military to ensure that we have the right mix of forces to handle counter-insurgency and peace enforcement operations, and that we have enough forces on the ground to do the job. I would also involve NATO immediately, with the goal to eventually placing NATO in charge of Iraq’s security. I will establish specific timetables to transfer authority to the Iraqis to give them more control over their economy, civilian authority, and security, and to help them create a new government that defends their freedom and represents their diversity. And I will establish an independent oversight commission to ensure that the contract process is competitive, fair, and transparent.
Source: 2004 Presidential National Political Awareness Test Mar 3, 2004

Supporting Iraq war OK, but how war was conducted not OK

Q: You voted for the Iraq resolution, which basically gave the president power to use any means that he deemed necessary and appropriate, including military force, to respond to the perceived threat of Saddam Hussein. How can you criticize the president on his Iraq policy when you handed him a blank check?

EDWARDS: I took this responsibility very seriously. I said that it was critical that this not be done by America alone, that it not be an American operation, and now this is not internationalized. For the most part, it’s America doing it alone, which I believe is an enormous mistake.

Q: Well, then, why didn’t you not vote for it? Why didn’t you insist on caveats? It was a blank check. Why?

EDWARDS: The answer is, what we did is we voted on a resolution. It is for the president to determine how to conduct the war. That’s his responsibility. This president has failed in his responsibility. Neither [Kerry nor I] would’ve conducted this operation the way he conducted it.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary debate at USC Feb 26, 2004

Saddam’s trial will reveal atrocities, but won’t end terror

Q: How do you reconcile Saddam’s capture with continued fear of terrorism?

EDWARDS: The trial of Saddam Hussein is going to reveal the atrocities that he’s been engaged in and some of the incredible conduct that’s occurred in Iraq during the time of his reign. But the reality of protecting the American people is, there’s a still great deal of work to be done. Everybody across America knows that we have nuclear and chemical plants that are not adequately protected; that we are extraordinarily vulnerable through our ports. We don’t have a comprehensive warning system in place, we don’t have a comprehensive response system. And we know is that we know that terrorist cells exist all over this country. We need to do a much more effective job of putting humans inside those terrorist cells so that we can stop them before they do us harm.

Source: Democratic 2004 Presidential Primary Debate in Iowa Jan 4, 2004

Partial yes on $87B-irresponsible to not support troops

Q: [Bush asked for] $87 billion for the ongoing war on terrorism. Your vote, yes or no?

EDWARDS: We have young men & women in a shooting gallery over there. It would be enormously irresponsible for any of us not to do what’s necessary to support them. When we went into Iraq, the US assumed a responsibility to share with our allies the effort to reconstruct. That does not mean Bush should get a blank check.

I will vote for what’s necessary to support the troops. But we have a lot of questions that have to be answered first. We have to find out how he plans to bring our allies in, how much control he plans to give up, and what is our long-term plan there.

Q: So you might vote for something less than $87 billion and cut off money for reconstruction?

EDWARDS: I will vote for what needs to be there to support our troops who are on the ground. I will not vote for the additional money unless we have an explanation about what we’re going to do to share the cost with our allies.

Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

Allies in Iraq would reduce burden on troops & taxpayers

Q: If we cannot get international forces to Iraq, should we increase the US presence or leave?

EDWARDS: I don’t accept that premise. We have to have the help of our friends and allies around the world. [First], to help relieve the burden on American troops and be able to bring some of these troops home. Second, to reduce the burden on the American taxpayer. We need to lead in a way that brings others to us and creates respect for America, because at the end of the day [that will make] a safer world.

Source: Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate Sep 9, 2003

Irresponsible to not fund troops; also to fund Halliburton

Q: Will you vote yes or no on the president’s request for $87 billion to continue the effort in Iraq?

EDWARDS: Well, I’m going to do what has to be done to make sure our troops get what they need, but not without the president telling us how much this is going to cost over the long term, how long we’re going to be there and who is going to share the cost with us.

Q: So if the president says, “I need $87 billion to protect the troops,” you’re ready to say yes to that?

EDWARDS: It would be irresponsible not to do what needs to be done to protect our troops. But having said that, it would also be irresponsible not to do something to stop this president from giving billions of dollars in American taxpayer money to companies like Halliburton in unbid contracts.

Source: Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate Sep 9, 2003

Problems in Iraq are because Bush has not led

Q: The administration is expected to ask the Congress for $80 billion to continue the mission in Iraq. Will you support that spending?

EDWARDS: The administration needs to say to the Congress and to the American people what this war is going to cost over the long term; how long they think we’re going to be there. The reason we are in this situation is because this president has not led. He has not addressed the problem of bringing in others. He has not gone to the UN in the way that he should have.

Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

Supported Iraq invasion because of WMD threat

Edwards has not hesitated to support decisive American action, alone if necessary, to address imminent threats to our national security. He supports President Bush’s efforts to address the looming danger of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. However, he sharply objects to the Bush administration’s handling of our broader foreign policy, which he says projects “arrogance without purpose,” instead of the “purpose without arrogance” promised in the President’s inaugural address.
Source: Campaign website, johnedwards2004.com, “Key Issues” Jul 17, 2003


John Edwards on Voting Record

Apologized for Iraq war vote; others must search conscience

Q: You made a high-profile apology for your vote in favor of the Iraq war resolution. You have said, “We need a leader who will be open and honest, who will tell the truth when they made a mistake.” Was that not a direct shot at your opponent, Senator Clinton?

EDWARDS: No, I think that’s a question for the conscience of anybody who voted for this war. Senator Clinton and anyone else who voted for this war has to search themselves and decide whether they believe they’ve voted the right way. If so, they can support their vote.

CLINTON: I take responsibility for my vote. Obviously, I did as good a job I could at the time. It was a sincere vote based on the information available to me. If I knew then what I now know, I would not have voted that way. But 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? He is stubbornly refusing to listen to the will of the American people.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

Wrong on Iraq war vote about WMDs and about Bush’s lead-up

Q: Sen. Clinton says she wouldn’t vote for the war today, knowing what she knows now, and she made the decision based on the best information at the time; it was a sincere decision. Why isn’t that good enough?

A: Well, whether it’s good enough I think is between her and her conscience, it’s not for me to judge. For me to talk about America being a moral leader in the world again, it was important for me to stand on a foundation of truth. For me the truth was, and still is, that there were two things that I was concerned about when I cast my vote [for the war]. One was the possibility that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. I came to the conclusion that he did, but I was wrong about that. Second, I was concerned about giving George Bush this authority because I was worried he wouldn’t do the things that he needed to do in the lead-up to the war. In hindsight, I should never have given George Bush the authority that I gave him in 2002, and I have to take responsibility for that.

Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada Feb 21, 2007

Got war vote wrong based on bad intel & Bush incompetence

Q: Sen. Ted Kennedy said on this program that, in his entire career in the Senate, spanning 40 years, the vote he cast on the war in Iraq was the most important. Do agree it was the most important vote you cast?

A: Yes.

Q: And, in your mind, you got it wrong.

A: I did.

Q: In Oct. 2002, you called Saddam “a grave threat to America.” Do you still believe that?

A: No.

Q: Why were you so wrong?

A: The intelligence information that we got was wrong. I went back to former Clinton administration officials-they were also wrong. And, based on that, I made the wrong judgment. I was convinced he had weapons of mass destruction. That’s turned out to be completely false. I had internal conflict because I was worried about George Bush doing the work that needed to be done with the international community. I didn’t know that he would be as incompetent as he’s been in the administration of the war. It’s become absolutely clear, looking back, that I should not have given this president this authority.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Feb 4, 2007

Made mistake in voting for Iraq war resolution

Edwards is calling for cuts in troops in Iraq. He said he made a mistake in voting for a resolution to go to war with Iraq, but also noted that he didn’t conduct the war. He said the Bush administration’s leadership in Iraq has been a disaster and that it would be a mistake to send in more troops. “The biggest responsibility of the next president of the United States is to re-establish America’s leadership role in the world, starting with Iraq,” Edwards said. “We need to make it clear that we intend to leave Iraq and turn over the responsibility of Iraq to the Iraqi people. The best way to make that clear is to actually start leaving.”

Edwards said it’s not just Iraq that is in chaos and in need of moral leadership from the United States. He said the United States should be leading an end to genocide in Sudan and to atrocities in northern Uganda.

Source: Nedra Pickler, Associated Press, in NOLA news Dec 28, 2006

Voted for Iraq war in 2002, but now recants his vote

The 2004 vice presidential nominee voted to authorize military intervention, but since leaving the Senate has recanted his vote. He now advocates a phased troop redeployment.
Source: People’s Daily (China), “Contenders views on the war” Nov 23, 2006

On voting for Iraq War: “I was wrong”

I was wrong. Almost three years ago we went into Iraq to remove what we were told -- and what many of us believed and argued -- was a threat to America. But in fact we now know that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction when our forces invaded Iraq in 2003. The intelligence was deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda.

It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn’t make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a dear price.

America’s leaders -- all of us -- need to accept the responsibility we each carry for how we got to this place. More than 2,000 Americans have lost their lives in this war, and more than 150,000 are fighting there today. They and their families deserve honesty from our country’s leaders. And they also deserve a clear plan for a way out.

Source: 2008 Speculation: Washington Post editorial, “Right Way” Nov 13, 2005

Voted for war in Iraq but against $87B-and it’s consistent

Q: After voting to authorize the president to go to war in Iraq in 2002, you voted last fall against an $87 billion expenditure to support the troops there and aid the anti-terrorism effort. Why aren’t they inconsistent?

EDWARDS: Because I said before the first resolution was ever voted on in the Congress, that in order for this effort to be successful it was absolutely critical that when we reached this stage that it be international, that it not be an American occupation. And so long as it was that, we’d see the problems we’ve seen right now. Bush needed to change course. We needed to have the UN in charge of the civilian authority.

Q: So was it a protest vote?

EDWARDS: It was not a protest vote. Had I been the deciding vote, I would have voted exactly the same way. Because what would have happened, had that occurred, is the president would have immediately come back to the Congress with a plan, changing course. We came to the point where we had to stand up and take responsibility.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

Voted NO on $86 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan.

Vote to pass a bill that would appropriate $86.5 billion in supplemental spending for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Fiscal 2004. The bill would provide $10.3 billion as a grant to rebuild Iraq. This includes:
Reference: FY04 Emergency Supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan; Bill S1689 ; vote number 2003-400 on Oct 17, 2003

Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq.

H.J.Res. 114; Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. The administration would be required to report to Congress that diplomatic options have been exhausted before, or within 48 hours after military action has started. Every 60 days the president would also be required to submit a progress report to Congress.
Reference: Bill H.J.RES.114 ; vote number 2002-237 on Oct 11, 2002

Voted YES on allowing all necessary force in Kosovo.

Majority Leader Trent Lott motioned to kill the resolution that would have authorized the president to "use all necessary forces and other means," in cooperation with U.S. allies to accomplish objectives in Yugoslavia.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)78; N)22
Reference: Motion to table S. J. Res. 20; Bill S. J. Res. 20 ; vote number 1999-98 on May 4, 1999

Voted YES on authorizing air strikes in Kosovo.

Vote to adopt a resolution to authorize the President to conduct military air operations and missile strikes in cooperation with NATO against Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).
Reference: Bill S.Con.Res 21 ; vote number 1999-57 on Mar 23, 1999

Condemns anti-Muslim bigotry in name of anti-terrorism.

Edwards co-sponsored the Resolution on bigotry against Sikh Americans:

Title: Condemning bigotry and violence against Sikh Americans in the wake of terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.

Summary: Declares that, in the quest to identify, locate, and bring to justice the perpetrators and sponsors of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the civil rights and liberties of all Americans, including Sikh-Americans, should be protected.

Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR255 on Oct 4, 2001

CIA mischaracterized Iraq WMD & abused intelligence position.

Edwards signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq

Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC1 on May 8, 2004

Iraq-al-Qaida contacts, but no complicity or assistance.

Edwards signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq

Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC10 on May 8, 2004

CIA knew State of the Union Iraq-Niger connection was false.

Edwards signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq

Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC3 on May 8, 2004

Iraq was not reconstituting its nuclear program.

Edwards signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq

Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC4 on May 8, 2004

Iraq was not developing its biological weapons program.

Edwards signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq

Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC5 on May 8, 2004

Iraq was not developing its chemical weapons program.

Edwards signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq

Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC6 on May 8, 2004

Iraq was developing missiles, but not to reach the US.

Edwards signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq

Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC7 on May 8, 2004

Other candidates on War & Peace: John Edwards on other issues:
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GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

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Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
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Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
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