In their own words: IRAQ

wirq26.jpg In my OPINION (backed up by the quotes below which are drawn directly and completely from the candidates websites), Hillary’s plan for a high level U.N appointed representative to broker peace, a feasable timetable (60 days) and a more comprehensive (or at least, more clearly articulate) package for Veteran’s is stronger than Obama’s. Please read, research and decide for yourself. NB: Words in Blue and sometimes bold are my own, anything in black or red are the candidates words, items in red are issues I feel warrant conversation or represent the salient points in the candidates stance on issues:

Obama on IRAQ:“Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda. I thought this last sentance was strange since in the first sentence he said he would have all of our troops out, so I did a little more digging to clarify:Residual Force to Remain: Under the Obama plan, American troops may remain in Iraq or the region. TheseAmerican troops will protect American diplomatic and military personnel in Iraq, and continue striking at al

Qaeda in Iraq.

Still not quite clear, and the troops may be re-re-deployed in case his fail proof “immediate withdrawal” (which i guess isn’t actually immediate) and peace brokering lead to genocide:

Prevent Genocide: Barack Obama would work with the international community to hold the perpetrators of potential war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide accountable for their crimes. If necessary, he would work with the United Nations to establish an independent war crimes commission or a special investigator who can gather testimonies of survivors and investigate war crimes. Obama would supply armed escorts to civilians who voluntarily choose to move from religiously heterogeneous areas to communities where they feel they will be more secure. He would reserve the right to intervene militarily, with our international partners, to suppress genocidal violence within Iraq.

And then I found this tidbit which wasn’t mentioned on the homepage:

Afghanistan: Barack Obama believes that we need to begin to end the war in order to finish the fight inAfghanistan. He would redeploy at least two combat brigades (7,000 personnel) of rested, trained Americantroops to Afghanistan to reinforce our counter-terrorism operations and support NATO’s efforts to fight theTaliban.

Press Iraq’s Leaders to Reconcile

The best way to press Iraq’s leaders to take responsibility for their future is to make it clear that we are leaving. As we remove our troops, Obama will engage representatives from all levels of Iraqi society – in and out of government – to seek a new accord on Iraq’s Constitution and governance. The United Nations will play a central role in this convention, which should not adjourn until a new national accord is reached addressing tough questions like federalism and oil revenue-sharing.

Regional Diplomacy

Obama will launch the most aggressive diplomatic effort in recent American history to reach a new compact on the stability of Iraq and the Middle East. This effort will include all of Iraq’s neighbors — including Iran and Syria. This compact will aim to secure Iraq’s borders; keep neighboring countries from meddling inside Iraq; isolate al Qaeda; support reconciliation among Iraq’s sectarian groups; and provide financial support for Iraq’s reconstruction.

Why doesn’t he call the Iraq conflict a civil war? I guess conflict amongst secretarian groups is just as good…

Humanitarian Initiative

Obama believes that America has a moral and security responsibility to confront Iraq’s humanitarian crisis — two million Iraqis are refugees; two million more are displaced inside their own country. Obama will form an international working group to address this crisis. He will provide at least $2 billion to expand services to Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, and ensure that Iraqis inside their own country can find a safe-haven. “Clinton on IRAQ: I’m not sure why, but some believe that Clinton has no timetable for withdrawal from Iraq: The most important part of Hillary’s plan is the first: to end our military engagement in Iraq’s civil war and immediately start bringing our troops home. As President, one of Hillary’s first official actions would be to convene the Joint Chiefs of Staff, her Secretary of Defense, and her National Security Council. She would direct them to draw up a clear, viable plan to bring our troops home starting with the first 60 days of her Administration. She would also direct the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to prepare a comprehensive plan to provide the highest quality health care and benefits to every service member — including every member of the National Guard and Reserves — and their families.Securing Stability in Iraq as we Bring our Troops Home. As President, Hillary would focus American aid efforts during our redeployment on stabilizing Iraq, not propping up the Iraqi government. She would direct aid to the entities — whether governmental or non-governmental — most likely to get it into the hands of the Iraqi people. She would also support the appointment of a high level U.N. representative — similar to those appointed in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Kosovo — to help broker peace among the parties in Iraq.A New Intensive Diplomatic Initiative in the Region. In her first days in office, Hillary would convene a regional stabilization group composed of key allies, other global powers, and all of the states bordering Iraq. The- mission of this group would be to develop and implement a strategy to create a stable Iraq. It would have three specific goals: · Non-interference. Working with the U.N. representative, the group would work to convince Iraq’s neighbors to refrain from getting involved in the civil war. · Mediation. The group would attempt to mediate among the different sectarian groups in Iraq with the goal of attaining compromises on fundamental points of disputes. · Reconstruction funding. The members of the group would hold themselves and other countries to their past pledges to provide funding to Iraq and will encourage additional contributions to meet Iraq’s extensive needs. As our forces redeploy out of Iraq, Hillary would also organize a multi-billion dollar international effort — funded by a wide range of donor states — under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to address the needs of Iraqi refugees. And as we replace military force with diplomacy and global leadership, Hillary will not lose sight of our very real strategic interests in the region. She would devote the resources we need to fight terrorism and will order specialized units to engage in narrow and targeted operations against al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in the region. OBAMA on Veterans:

Plan to keep our Sacred Trust with Veterans

Keeping faith with those who serve must always be a core American value and a cornerstone of American patriotism. Because America’s commitment to its servicemen and women begins at enlistment, and it must never end.” Barack Obama, Speech in Kansas City, MO, August 21, 2007Is faith in lieu of real tangible benefits? Juuuust kidding:

A Sacred Trust

Barack Obama believes America has a sacred trust with our veterans. He is committed to creating a 21st Century Department of Veterans’ Affairs that provides the care and benefits our nation’ veterans deserve.

  • Allow All Veterans Back into the VA: One of Obama’s first acts will be reversing the 2003 ban on enrolling modest-income veterans, which has denied care to a million veterans.
  • Strengthen VA Care: Obama will make the VA a leader of national health care reform so that veterans get the best care possible. He will improve care for polytrauma vision impairment, prosthetics, spinal cord injury, aging, and women’s health.
  • Combat Homelessness among Our Nation’s Veterans: Obama will establish a national “zero tolerance” policy for veterans falling into homelessness by expanding proven programs and launching innovative services to prevent veterans from falling into homelessness.
  • Fight Veterans Employment Discrimination: Obama will crack down on employers who commit job discrimination against guardsmen and reservists.

Help for Returning Service Members

Obama will improve the quality of health care for veterans, rebuild the VA&rsquot;s broken benefits system, and combat homelessness among veterans.

  • Ensure a Seamless Transition: Obama will demand that the military and the VA coordinate to provide a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life.
  • Fully Fund VA Medical Care: Barack Obama will fully fund the VA so it has all the resources it needs to serve the veterans who need it, when they need it. Obama will establish a world-class VA Planning Division to avoid future budget shortfalls.
  • Fix the Benefits Bureaucracy: Obama will hire additional claims workers, and improve training and accountability so that VA benefit decisions are rated fairly and consistently. He also will transform the paper benefit claims process to an electronic one to reduce errors and improve timeliness.

Improved Mental Health Treatment

Obama will improve mental health treatment for troops and veterans suffering from combat-related psychological injuries.

  • Improve Mental Health Treatment: Obama will improve mental health care at every stage of military service. He will recruit more health professionals, improve screening, offer more support to families and make PTSD benefits claims fairer. What does “fairer” mean, and to whom?
  • Improve Care for Traumatic Brain Injury: Obama will establish standards of care for Traumatic Brain Injury, the signature injury of the Iraq war.
  • Expand Vet Centers: Obama will expand and strengthen Vet Centers to provide more counseling for vets and their families.

Hillary on Veterans:Hillary Clinton has a long history of fighting for our veterans and will work to ensure our country fulfills its obligations to those who have served and sacrificed for the nation. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Hillary has championed legislation to improve the lives of our veterans and their families. She worked to provide access to TRICARE for National Guard and Reserve members. She authored the Heroes at Home Act that will begin to help service members struggling with post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. She worked with others in the Senate to pass legislation to increase the military survivor benefit from $12,000 to $100,000. As president, she will honor three fundamental commitments: First, every member of our armed forces will receive a fair shot at the American dream when their service is over. Second, every veteran in America will have health care. Third, every veteran will receive the benefits they have earned and the assistance they need – right from the start. Enact a GI Bill of Rights for the Twenty-First Century. Hillary will enact a GI Bill of Rights for the 21st century that will resurrect the spirit of the original 1944 GI Bill and offer service members, veterans and their families with expanded education, housing and entrepreneurial benefits. Her plan will guarantee equal access for all components of the Armed Forces – Active, Guard and Reserve – that have deployed overseas in support of a combat operation since September 11 or served two years of active duty since September 11. She will fund undergraduate education for service members, as well as education for specialized trade or technical training, and certification and licensing programs. She will expand the VA Home Loan Guaranty program to allow veterans to use low-interest, no-fee loans to purchase, build or improve a home valued up to $625,000. She will establish a Veterans Microloan Program to provide veterans with no-collateral, low-interest microloans of up to $100,000 for entrepreneurial ventures. Provide Affordable and Quality Health Care for All Veterans. As President, Hillary will ensure that all of the 1.8 million uninsured veterans in this country have access to quality, affordable health care. She will restore the Clinton-era policy that opened the VA’s excellent and cost-effective health care system to all veterans who seek to enroll. She will make a long-term commitment to the VA system to ensure it is adequately funded and has the capacity to avoid backlogs and to handle greater enrollments. And she will provide coverage through the American Health Choices Plan to all veterans who choose not to use the VA system. Ensure All Veterans Receive the Benefits They Have Earned and the Assistance They Need — Right from the Start. As President, Hillary will commit to getting a fair, accurate, and timely decision for every veteran filing a disability claim. She will increase the number of qualified VA evaluators to reduce the backlog of claims. She will provide fast-track training for new claims specialists and expand the Benefits at Discharge Program to smooth the transition from service to discharge for all those who serve our country. Extend Hiring Preferences to Veterans-friendly Contractors. Today, there are between 7.2 and 7.6 million federal contractors, 2 million more than there were five years ago. The privatization of government by the Bush administration has meant veterans are losing job opportunities, because contractors do not necessarily have the same hiring policies as the federal government. Hillary will cut the number of contractors working for the federal government by 500,000 over the next 10 years, saving $10 to $18 billion a year. And she will restore and expand job opportunities for veterans by working to establish a system through which federal contractors afford veterans hiring preference comparable to the federal government’s. Expand the Helmets to Hardhats Program. Hillary will increase funding for the Helmets to Hardhats program. This program links veterans with local job opportunities in the construction and trade industries by offering apprenticeship programs that teach veterans through on-the-job training supplemented by classroom instruction. Give Veterans Additional Opportunities to Serve. Hillary will make vouchers worth up to $10,000 available to returning veterans who want to serve in AmeriCorps and select not-for-profit organizations. These organizations would provide at least $5,000 to supplement the voucher. This system will help veterans create normal routines and reenter their communities while doing meaningful work serving their country. Hillary will make this subsidy available to as many as 20,000 veterans a year. Reduce Homelessness among Veterans. In 2006, nearly 200,000 veterans were homeless on any given night. Hillary will establish a pilot program on homelessness prevention for veterans that will provide subsidies, eviction prevention, and one-time assistance for veterans who fall behind on their rent. She will also expand rental assistance for veterans by calling on Congress to fund an additional 20,000 housing choice vouchers exclusively for homeless veterans. Expand Veterans Homeownership. Hillary will make homeownership more affordable for veterans. Veterans will receive a 50% discount on foreclosed properties in the government’s inventory, which currently stands at 35,000 homes. And she will eliminate the upfront fees on VA mortgages for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who take out VA loans within two years of leaving active duty.

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