Tuesday, February 06, 2007

John Edwards on NPR: Peace in Iraq

John Edwards spoke to Diane Rehm on NPR by phone from Detroit, Michigan this morning for the entire first hour of the Diane Rehm show. He answered many questions from Diane Rehm and interested callers and from listeners who had sent emails.

He said that he believes presidential campaigns should be publicly financed, but in reality, he likely won't be doing that because of the already-made decisions of Democratic competitors in this 2008 presidential race. When asked, he named Senators Clinton and Obama as his primary rivals in this race. In my opinion, this is not exactly earth-shattering news to anyone, considering that all we seem to hear about in the obviously "excluding" mainstream media in recent days is 'Obama-Clinton.' The fact that Senator Edwards is often left off "the list" despite his enormous popularity with real people serves to reinforce a non-myth about mainstream media, which is the twisted reality of "money" being "speech". Which takes me back to the very beginning of this particular paragraph....

Senator Edwards said, as far as popularity polls are concerned, that we tend to see results of the national polls on national television, and these results don't mean a whole lot right now. What matters now is what we see happening in the individual states, such as Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. When asked, he said he surely wouldn't run as a vice-presidential candidate but he would welcome many leaders who he would felt would deserve to be considered for his vice-president when it came time to choose. When asked, he said he hoped that the country was ready for a female and/or a black president. [Personally, I hope that's true myself.] He stated that he was proud of his professional life as an attorney working for the "little guy" against powerful forces. His life has shown a clear pattern of working for those who are up against sometimes seemingly insurmountable forces, which is why he has shown his genuine care for the working poor of this country - most recently as Director for the Poverty Center at Chapel Hill. His presidential campaign is a natural extension of this pattern in his life's chosen work.

Campaigns and campaign finance in America are every bit as dysfunctional as our current healthcare system. Speaking of which....

Senator Edwards has just presented a new plan for Universal Healthcare, emphasizing that our current healthcare system is currently dysfunctional. There are extraordinary inefficiencies built into the system as it stands today. Senator Edwards believes that his Universal Healthcare plan is transformational. Everyone, from government to business to healthcare provider to the individual, is asked to share responsibility in seeing that every person is covered with healthcare insurance. His new plan creates new and improved efficiencies in the healthcare system - many that don't exist at the present time. Health Markets, non-profit and state-based with support of federal government, will be used as a new competetive bargaining tool in the marketplace; with business, healthcare system, and the individual working with government support to create never-before seen choices for all Americans.

There are many within the political ranks of the Democratic party who'd love for Senator Edwards to say that no one's taxes will ever have to go up to have a real and meaningful universal healthcare plan, but that simply is not true. "Honesty is so important in today's world," said Senator Edwards, and he stated he would not lie to the American people about what it would take to make this plan work. People are tired of small and meaningless steps that amount to little. They are ready for transformation in the way we approach the healthcare system.

A pointedly skeptical email question came in to the radio show, basically saying that the citizen-emailer was tired of "gimme programs" and that they were not personally willing to see their tax dollars going toward the proposed universal healthcare plan. Senator Edwards said that he believes we have a moral responsibility to help poorer Americans to help themselves, creating a cycle of independence vs. the old cycle of dependence that was an unfortunate result of past 'wars on Poverty'. Many of the working poor have been up against tremendous barriers in their lives. Senator Edwards believes in restoring hope, dignity and self-reliance to the poor who are willing to help themselves by being willing to work. Personally, I recall hearing the amazing Archbishop Desmond Tutu saying that God created us all to be different, not so that we should be alienated from one another, but that we should know our need of one another, that ultimately there can be no such thing as "the totally self sufficient." In fact, being totally self-sufficient is "subhuman" according to Archbishop Tutu.

Americans aren't sub-human - it just isn't who we are or what we're about. I know my friends and neighbors. I know my community.

We're better than that.

In October 2002, Senator Edwards voted for the Iraq War Resolution. Today he is sorry for that vote. A caller asked Senator Edwards: People who disseminated the false information, the false intelligence - should they be held responsible? In his reply, Senator Edwards accepted his responsibility - for his vote. The information provided to him and to the Intelligence Committee was wrong. The trusted opinions he was hearing, at the time, directly from from members who'd worked in the Clinton administration were verifying exactly what the intelligence community was saying. Those trusted opinions contributed to his vote back in 2002, which he fully takes responsibility for today - and which he now believes was wrong.

To stabilize the Iraqi nation, a President Edwards would redeploy 40,000 combat troops and while many of those troops would likely come home, some may be required to help support the NATO effort in Afghanistan. He averred that we need Iran and Syria directly involved in diplomatic discussions in order to stop the potential spread of civil war over the borders of Iraq, and he added that, as President, you always have to prepare for the worst. As president, he would enable any necessary prescence in the Persian Gulf. He stressed the importance of political reconciliation regarding oil revenues as a route to stabilizing the Iraqi national government. Through the rule of law, a centralized government would be be enabled to share oil revenue among all of the population. If this were to happen and if the motives were transparent and trustworthy, Sunnis would buy into a stable government in Iraq because they would have something material [ie: oil revenue] to gain from it. Over time, a removal of our military presence is going to be very important. Senator Edwards said that we'll need to intensify our training of Iraqi troops, and that we must work with Prime Minister Maliki and the Sunnis in Iraq for political reconciliation with the majority Shia political elements. It's the only route to peace in Iraq. On a personal note, I thought about 'Peace in Iraq' and that we should begin saying that more often.

Senator Edwards believes that there should be more humanitarian aid going directly to people in the Palestinian territory [not to Hamas - but to the people]. Israel should make steps to reduce the numbers of now-existing checkpoints and focus on reaching a settlement with the Palestinian people.

Diane Rehm asked: How do we fight a war against terror? Senator Edwards stated that a leader can't be bellicose in his or her rhetoric. He also expressed disappointment that the United States, in recent years, had lost quite a bit of its once-strong reputation as a stabilizing force - a great moral force for good in the world. We've fallen short in places like Sudan/Darfur - where we have recognized a genocide but have taken no serious steps to stop it. There has been insufficient government leadership on HIV/AIDS in Africa. The Abu Ghraib incident hurt our reputation tremendously. He stated we needed more serious effort to use intelligence against terrorist activities - more smart and more aggressive intelligence efforts not only in Iraq, but around the world. When we know nations like Iran and North Korea are pursuing nuclear weaponry, we would hope that the world would rally around US to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons. [Senator Edwards didn't mention this, but look at what French president Jacques Chirac said just this week about Iran - underplaying the geopolitical consequences of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. It was surely no rally cry around our country's leadership.] In order for that to happen, for other nations to begin to rally around our ideas again, we must be respected as a force for good. A President who will engage on more of these moral issues will be necessary before we see any changes in the world. It seems to me that a new President - a President Edwards - would strongly forward a spirit that is a far more true representation of the good will of the people of this nation.

A last comment:

'Peace in Iraq' - how often have you heard any other prominent leaders daring to mention peace in Iraq in any serious manner? We should be saying that more often. Our words have great power. Senator Edwards has been incredibly effective in inspiring others in this way. I believe that he's a man of great vision.

If we envision peace, we will have peace. If we envision fear and death, so shall it be.

Which vision do you choose?


Patty Ann Smith said...


Al Gore for The Nobel Peace Prize!


Jude Nagurney Camwell said...

Albert Abraham Michelson, Physics Nobel Prize 1907
Albert Einstein, Nobel Prize for Physics (many years)
Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Peace Prize 1952
Albert Camus, a Nobel Prize for Literature 1957
Albert Arnold Gore, nominee for Nobel Peace prize 2007!

Anonymous said...

You're right, so many non-justifications for the war later, finally a ray of light...

Larry said...

Hillary will do anything she can to wrap up all the money from Edwards and anyone else.

Money can't wipe away the fact that she openly supported the war and has never said she was wrong.

At least Edwards had the courage to admit that.

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