John Edwards must win Iowa to have a chance at the Democratic presidential nomination. But he's not the only Democrat with a catapult-out-of-Iowa strategy. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has joined Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama among the candidates hitting double-digits in the polls there, turning what's seen nationally as a three-way contest into an Iowa four-way. No question why Richardson's scoring well in Iowa either: It's Iraq. Unlike the other three, who propose keeping some number of troops there indefinitely, Richardson insists that all our troops should be withdrawn as quickly as possible.
Richardson's position has undercut Edwards' as the one "leading candidate" who was calling out Congress on the war. Edwards has said all year that Congress should absolutely refuse to appropriate any more money for the war unless a timeline for withdrawal is included with it. "No timeline, no funding. No excuses," Edwards reiterated last week. But withdrawal, to Edwards, means pulling 40,000-50,000 troops out now and the rest of our "combat" troops within a year. That would leave an unspecified military force to guard our embassy, train Iraqis and hunt for terrorists. Meanwhile, Edwards proposes to position "Quick Reaction Forces" around Iraq to hit terrorist cells, prevent genocide and keep the civil war from spilling into other countries (read: Saudi Arabia).
Edwards coupled his stance with a new call last week, at Pace University in New York City, for a counterterrorism strategy "that will actually counter terrorism," one that emphasizes better intelligence, international cooperation and quick strikes against "small, hostile groups" instead of mass forces and occupations. The key to defeating terrorists, Edwards added, is to make America once again "the light of the world"—the country that leads with international aid, not bombs. America is "more than a place," Edwards said. "We are an idea. We are freedom, equality and respect."