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Kerry: Reduce U.S. Force in Iraq by 100,000 by End of Next Year

by Pamela Leavey

New York Newsday is reporting an AP piece about John Kerry’s speech today in New York at the Council on Foreign Relations. Here’s a few quips:

The United States needs to reduce its forces in Iraq by “at least 100,000” by the end of 2006, sending a message to the Middle East that Americans are not interested in maintaining a permanent military presence in that country, Sen. John Kerry said Thursday.

In a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations, the former Democratic presidential contender said the goal should be to have a force of 30,000 to 40,000 in Iraq by the end of next year.

“As General (George) Casey told Congress, our large military presence ‘feeds the notion of occupation’ and ‘extends the amount of time that it will take for Iraqi security forces to become self-reliant,”‘ Kerry said. “That’s why we need to focus all of our energies on making 2006 the year in which we turn over that struggle to our partners within Iraq.”

Kerry cautioned, however, that troop withdrawal should be linked to a timetable “that is set by a series of benchmarks of accomplishment.”

He conceded “you’re going to have to see where you are. … I would not do it on a fixed automatic table. It has to be results coordinated.”

Kerry had previously said 20,000 troops should leave Iraq following next week’s elections, but Thursday’s comments appear to be the first in which he has set a specific target for the end of 2006.

“I believe you could get at least 100,000 out over that period of time,” he said during a question and answer session following his speech.

Kerry said success in Iraq will help “undermine the myth, all too real in many Middle Eastern minds, that the United States seeks to steal Iraq’s oil, insult its religion, and seize its land for military bases.”

Kerry “also took aim at his colleagues in Congress:”

“Never in the 21 years that I have been in the Congress … have we seen as dysfunctional an institution as the Congress is today,” he said. “Almost every great issue facing our nation is not being genuinely discussed.”

The text of John Kerry’s speech today can be found here and you can listen to John Kerry on his Iraq Pullout Plan on NPR’s All Things Considered here.

10 Responses to “Kerry: Reduce U.S. Force in Iraq by 100,000 by End of Next Year”

  1. Kerry is in his element, speaking as who he is and what he knows. The voters were not ready to listen last November. And the advisors were flummoxed how to best approach such misinformation. I don’t hear anyone else as positive, forward-thinking and specific.

    If Iraqis want us to leave, but also be comforted by our transitional support, benchmarks are the way. By Russ Feingold’s statement out by end of 2006, they’ll just wait until we leave, relying on us, but not necessarily improving the conditions on the ground. No carrot and stick. If they really want us out, they’ll work harder to get us out with an incentive.

    Some anti-war may say we don’t have the right to require or stay a minute longer. With the bulk of our troops going or gone, we will be available to help with the mess we can never atone or correct enough.

  2. I am so proud of Kerry right now, I don’t even know how to respond. I want this man as my President!!!!!

  3. Marjorie, Donnie

    Have you listened to the NPR piece? It’s realy wonderful!

  4. Yes, but I am always comforted by his voice. Makes transition seem possible. I know he thinks Bush has dug us into a hole there. One of those comments caught in after speech conversations by a too loud mic. Yet, he gives us a reason to stay and when to leave in just five minutes.

    And contrary to GOP spin trying to push that one lie during the campaign and again now, started in ’71, he cares about our troups, their safty and our country’s honor. We need to salvage what we can in Iraq without staying one minute longer than is necessary or beneficial.

  5. I note that, unlike Bush, John Kerry actually did what CFR guests are supposed to do: Submit to a question-and-answer period.

    Too bad that during Bush’s dog-and-pony show, nobody managed to sneak a cellphone into the place beforehand.

  6. My comments on Bush’s use of the CFR as a pretty backdrop for his latest collection of soundbites:


  7. It’s no surprise Bush didn’t answer questions.

    Bush can’t even answer questions from Congress without having Cheney next to him. (Expecting Bush to answer questions on his own is like expecting Charlie McCarthy to answer questions without Edgar Bergen there).

    I also doubt the CFR would submit to the standard Bush procedure for Q&A sessions–only answering questions they planted.

  8. I agree wholeheartedly with Donnie. John Kerry has been my President – in my mind – since the day he began his campaign for 2004 and I watched him work his heart out for our country. I was energized by his actions and then worked my heart out for his election. He continues to be my President, as I respect his wisdom, judgment and honesty. I will continue to project positive thoughts that he will lead us in the future from a dignified White House. Yes, Donnie, his voice is soothing and reassuring as well.

    Pamela, I appreciate this excellent Blog so very much. I am new at blogging, however, so bear with me please. Thanks.

  9. Marjorie, I apologize, I meant to address you by saying John Kerry’s voice is soothing and reassuring, as well. Let’s project positiveness in the direction of his political life. I affirm this thought daily!

  10. There is an excellant piece in the Atlantic Monthly written by Nil Rosen who spent 16 months reporting from Iraq. Mr. Rosen explains the facts on the ground and the truth about who exactly we are killing and fighting in Iraq.

    It is a resistance. It is an Iraqi resistance to our occupation. It is clear that it is time for us to withdraw and there is no benefit for the Iraqi people with our continued occupation. It is detrimental.

    Thank you John Kerry for recognizing this fact and thank you for demanding that we now end this folly that was based on deception in the first place.