Hillary Clinton is, I think, to be congratulated for stating reasonably clearly that her vision of “bringing the troops home” from Iraq after she becomes president doesn’t actually entail our troops not being in Iraq. Instead, The New York Times reports, “she would keep a reduced military force there to fight Al Qaeda, deter Iranian aggression, protect the Kurds and possibly support the Iraqi military.” The troops will be brought home only in the sense that “Mrs. Clinton said the scaled-down American military force that she would maintain would stay off the streets in Baghdad and would no longer try to protect Iraqis from sectarian violence — even if it descended into ethnic cleansing.”
If Clinton really lived up to her reputation as an unusually “calculating” politician, I think she would have simply kept this under wraps until after the primaries (or maybe even after the general election) but most of the time she’s pretty clear about where she stands. It’s just not where I stand. I’d be interested in hearing what Edwards, Obama, and Richardson think about this. My impression is that most of what passes for the Democratic national security establishment agrees with Clinton.