Obama's 'Contrived' Withdrawal Plan Slammed

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT


(CNSNews.com) - U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), a long-shot contender for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, on Wednesday slammed fellow presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama for releasing a "politically contrived and convenient" proposal to withdraw troops from Iraq.

"[H]is newfound strategy for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq is too little, too late," Kucinich said in a statement, "and too politically contrived and convenient to be credible or persuasive." He called Obama's plan an "unacceptable, inadequate, and disingenuous campaign tactic that leaves our brave men and women in Iraq at risk and in jeopardy until the end of next year."

In a speech Wednesday Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, outlined a proposal calling for a "responsible removal of our troops from Iraq's civil war." His plan, Obama said, would "proceed at a steady pace of one or two brigades each month. If we start now, all of our combat brigades should be out of Iraq by the end of next year."

Obama also called for "the most aggressive diplomatic effort in recent history to reach a new compact in the region." He said the effort should include all of Iraq's neighbors and the United Nations with a goal of finding out "what the world can do with Iraq."

While he was not in Congress when the war was authorized and couldn't vote against it, Obama campaigns on his longtime opposition to the war in Iraq, pointing out that fellow frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York voted to authorize the war.

Obama has also been supporting efforts by Democratic leaders in Congress to attach troop withdrawal provisions to Iraq funding legislation, although those efforts have failed to change the war strategy.

But Kucinich said in his statement that Obama's record "shows that he voted for every re-authorization of the war by approving of every additional spending measure placed before him by the Bush administration."

While Obama has voted for many of the funding authorization bills, in May he voted against a provision that continued funding the war because it excluded a timetable for withdrawal.

"We must negotiate a better plan that funds our troops, signals to the Iraqis that it is time for them to act and that begins to bring our brave servicemen and women home safely and responsibly," he said at the time.

Kucinich said in his statement that troops "need to come home now. The war needs to end now. The Congress needs to stop supporting the president's failed policies now."

And Kucinich isn't the only figurehead in the anti-war movement criticizing Obama's plan. At a news conference in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan said the movement she represents is "tired of waiting. We want the troops home, we want them to start coming home tomorrow."

Sheehan, who rose to prominence in the anti-war movement when she camped near President Bush's Texas ranch after the death of her son, Army Spec. Casey Sheehan, hesitated to comment directly on Obama's plan because she hadn't seen it yet.

But she did say that "I know that's 15 months away from now and in that 15 months, how many of our soldiers are going to die? How many of the people of Iraq are going to die?"

Sheehan called on Obama, Clinton, and other elected officials to act now to end the war instead of making campaign promises to do so.

"Sen. Obama is a senator right now. Sen. Clinton is a senator right now. They're all involved in our government. They can all do something about bringing the troops home right now instead of campaigning and using them as political tools."

A spokesman for the Obama campaign did not respond to requests for comment by press time. The campaign's Web site stresses Obama's anti-war stance, however, pointing out that "before the war in Iraq ever started, Senator Obama said that it was wrong in its conception."

"Since then," the Web site states, "Senator Obama has laid out a plan on the way forward in Iraq that has largely been affirmed by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group led by James Baker and Lee Hamilton."

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