Monday, March 17, 2008

Clinton's speech on Iraq

The following are excerpts from Senator Clinton's speech on Iraq:

The mistakes in Iraq are not the responsibility of our men and women in uniform but of their Commander-in-Chief. From the decision to rush to war without allowing the weapons inspectors to finish their work or waiting for diplomacy to run its course. To the failure to send enough troops and provide proper equipment for them. To the denial of the existence of a rising insurgency and the failure to adjust the military strategy. To the continued support for a government unwilling to make the necessary political compromises. The command decisions were rooted in politics and ideology, heedless of sound strategy and common sense.

Fortunately, ten months from now we will have a new president, and a new opportunity to change course in Iraq.

Therefore, the critical question is how can we end this war responsibly and restore America’s leadership in the world?

I will start by facing the conditions on the ground in Iraq as they are, not as we hope or wish them to be. The lives of our brave men and women are at stake. Nearly 4,000 of them have, by now, made that ultimate sacrifice. Tens of thousands more have suffered wounds both visible and invisible to their bodies, their minds, and their hearts.[...]

Taking into consideration the long-term costs of replacing equipment and providing medical care for troops and survivors' benefits for their families, the war in Iraq could ultimately cost well over $1 trillion. That is enough to provide health care for all 47 million uninsured Americans and quality pre-kindergarten for every American child, solve the housing crisis once and for all, make college affordable for every American student, and provide tax relief to tens of millions of middle class families.

Our ability to win the war in Afghanistan is at stake.[...]

Finally, our leadership in the world and our ability to front global challenges, present and future, is at stake. From extremism in Pakistan, to nuclear ambitions in Iran and North Korea, to troubling antidemocratic trends in Russia and Latin America, to the threat of global epidemics and global warming and to the rise of China. The more the world regards us with suspicion rather than admiration, the more difficult it is to confront these challenges.

We simply cannot give the Iraqi government an endless blank check. Each passing month we stay in Iraq gives the Iraqi government more time to avoid the hard decisions on how to split the oil money and how to share political power.[...]

So it is time to end this war as quickly and responsibly as possible. That has been my mission in the Senate, and it will be my mission starting on day one as president of the United States.[...]

The American people don't have to guess whether I’m ready to lead or whether I understand the realities on the ground in Iraq or whether I’d be too dependent on advisers to help me determine the right way forward. I’ve been working day-in and day-out in the Senate to provide leadership to end this war.[...]

I believe what matters in this campaign is not just the promises we've made to end the war; what matters is what we've actually done when it came time to match words with action. Because more than anything else, what we've done is an indication of what we'll do.[...]

I have concrete, detailed plans to end this war, and I have not wavered in my commitment to follow through on them. One choice in this election is Senator McCain. He’s willing to keep this war going for 100 years. You can count on him to do that. Another choice is Senator Obama who has promised to bring combat troops out in 16 months, but according to his foreign policy adviser, you can't count on him to do that. In uncertain times, we cannot afford uncertain leadership.

Here’s what you can count on me to do: provide the leadership to end this war quickly and responsibly. Today I’d like to talk about how I will do that, how as president, I will bring our troops home, work to bring stability in the region, and replace military force with a new diplomatic initiative to engage countries around the world in helping to secure Iraq’s future.

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