John Edwards And Iraq War Now That

John Edwards and the Iraq War

Now that John Kerry has chosen John Edwards as his running mate, I looked around for some Edwards quotes on Iraq. Some good ones are at On the Issues. One thing that hadn’t been clear to me before was Edwards’ antipathy to Halliburton and his critique of “unbid contracts.” Edwards as a trial lawyer who helped consumers get their due from rich corporations that had harmed them would be ideally placed to take on the whole issue of Halliburton and the ways in which the Bush administration has mishandled Iraq by funneling huge amounts of money into expensive contracts that did not even employ many Iraqis. That is to say, Edwards may be the Anti-Cheney in ways that could be important to the campaign. Cheney’s use of foul language on the Senate floor and increasing testiness suggest that he feels vulnerable on the Halliburton issue. One of the scandals that has been reported but hasn’t really broken yet is the way in which Halliburton gained contracts to provide services to US troops in an emergency but has been unable actually to provide those services. The summer of 2003 was hell on the troops because they had no quonset huts or air conditioning. Their shaving cream cans were exploding in the desert. Why didn’t the army just build them quonset huts? Because that task had been contracted out to civilians. And why didn’t civilians do the job? Because civilians cannot be ordered into a war zon, and Halliburton and KBR often simply could not put enough civilian personnel into the field to do the jobs contracted for in a timely manner. Who suffered? The US troops. Why? Because the Bush administration gave a soldier’s job to wealthy civilian corporations unequipped to handle it. Edwards is well placed to make hay with this sort of thing if he is canny about it.

Here are the Edwards quotes from On the Issues:

‘ 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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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,, “Key Issues” Jul 17, 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,, “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: interview Jun 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.

Bill H.J.RES.114 ; vote number 2002-237 on Oct 11, 2002 . . .

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