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RUSSERT: Governor Richardson, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS. RICHARDSON: Nice to be with you, Tim. RUSSERT: As you well know, the Democratic leadership in Congress had been trying to have a withdrawal date for all troops from Iraq tied to the bill which provided funding for the troops. They then agreed to take away that withdrawal language and pass the money without it present in the bill. Should the Democratic leadership have done that? RICHARDSON: No. I believe the Democrats in CISSP TRAINING Congress missed a great opportunity. What is not working, Tim–because the American people want us to get out of Iraq, and we must because it’s hurting our national interest. What the Democrats have been doing in my judgment is focusing on the wrong initiative, and that is more funding cuts, more timetables. What I would propose is a deauthorization resolution, under the War Powers Act, Article I, that basically allows the Congress to determine whether we’re at war at not. And what has happened now is, I believe, is that the first resolution that was voted on several years ago is not operative anymore. Sadaam Hussein is out, there are no weapons of mass destruction, the American people are totally against this war. I believe a deauthorizing resolution would pass. Under Article I, the president wouldn’t veto it. But I do believe that the Congress missed, missed a–missed an opportunity. We must get out of Iraq. The American people, everywhere I go, not just in the early primary states, want an exit strategy. They want to see a policy where our troops are safe. They want us to regain our international stature. And the key is a withdrawal from Iraq. RUSSERT: You would have voted against a bill that did not have a fixed withdrawal date. RICHARDSON: Yes. RUSSERT: On your Web site you say this: “Troops out in” ’07. “We should get our troops out of Iraq this year. No residual forces left behind. We must remove all of our troops. There should be no residual U.S. forces left in Iraq.” Now, I want to compare that to what you said in your book, “Between Worlds,” which just came out about 18 months ago. You write this: “At this point … we must see this mission through. We mustn’t stay in Iraq past the point where the new government asks us to leave, but neither can we unilaterally pull out before the Iraqis have achieved control over their own internal security. We owe them the opportunity to make their democracy work. We must not undermine their efforts now.” That’s exactly what you’re doing, undermining their efforts. RICHARDSON: Tim, I know this region well. I was U.N. ambassador. Eighty percent of my time was spent on the Iraq issue. I faced down Saddam Hussein, brought back two American hostages. I know the region well. I know the leaders there. I regret not having pushed more diplomatically early on with President Bush. I do regret that. But look where we are CWNA TRAINING now. There’s a civil war, there’s sectarian conflict. Right now I believe we must withdraw all our troops by the end of this calendar year with no residual forces because our troops today are a target. We are viewed… RUSSERT: So, but then–though–to be sure–that’s totally contrary to what you wrote in your book. So you’re now, in effect, saying what you wrote in the book is no longer operative. RICHARDSON: No, Tim, like everybody else, when we went into Iraq, I wanted to support the troops. But after incompetency, deceitfulness by this administration, the fact that there’s no weapons of mass destruction, the link to al-Qaeda was enormously suspect, what we now have is 61 percent of the Iraqi people feel it’s OK to shoot an American soldier, 71 percent Sunni, Shia want us out of Iraq. We–there is no basis for us to be there. What we need to do is disengage our troops but set up a diplomatic effort, three-pronged: One, a reconciliation of all the three religious and ethnic groups in Iraq–the Sunni, the Shia and the Kurds–for a division of power, coalition government, divide up oil revenues, a date and type separation of three entities, an all-Muslim peacekeeping force that I believe could provide security for Iraq, along with the Iraqis, and then a donor conference to deal with reconstruction. Our troops have done a magnificent job, but now they have become targets. Now it’s up to the Iraqis to take over. And you know, Tim, the Iraqis are not necessarily today helpless. They have 300,000 security forces, they have $150 billion in oil reserves, they’ve had three elections, so they have, they have a constitution, they have democratic institutions. It is time for them to take over. RUSSERT: But there’s only 6,000 Iraqi troops that can stand alone and operate independently of U.S. forces. RICHARDSON: Yeah, but there’s 300 other security forces that, that are–this was–this came out of the Department of Defense, May the 6th, that there’s over 330,000 security forces that are being trained. One of the problems, Tim, is the Maliki government is not stepping up to the plate in two key areas: one, national reconciliation between the Sunni and the Shia; and then secondly, in terms of training their own troops, they’re slow, there’s bureaucracy. Perhaps they don’t have the political will. I believe that our obsession with Iraq, Tim, has cost us enormously. Not just prestige around the world, but also in focusing on the major threats of this country, which are international terrorism, nuclear terrorism, building an international coalition, nuclear proliferation, a loose nuclear weapon in the hand of rogue nations, global climate change. So many other priorities. Darfur, issues relating to poverty, AIDS, refugees, the status of women around the world, sexual slavery, rape. There’s so many other ITIL TRAINING priorities that we’re not focusing on because we have an obsession with Iraq. RUSSERT: Governor, your proposal of an immediate troop withdrawal this year is not being supported by anyone of consequence. Can you name one military expert who says that’s the way to go? RICHARDSON: Well, I have a military adviser, very distinguished general, Robert Gard, former head of the National Defense University, decorated soldier. I have many other advisers that believe that this is the–Philip Coyle, assistant secretary of Weapons and Evaluation, who was on the BRAC Commission. Tim, a lot of experts…


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