3. The Iraq war; Before I begin I would like to just say that I am not a peace-nick, I am a Anarchist and not a non-violent one! I believe that War is necessary and and conflicts must sometimes be resolved by violent actions. With that said I also believe that the Iraq War was unnecessary and a mistake from day one.Obama was an early opponent of Bush administration policies on Iraq. In the fall of 2002, before the start of the Iraq War, he addressed an anti-war rally in Chicago, saying: “I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars”. This is where I side with Barrack Obama. Obama put his political career on the line to oppose going to war in Iraq, and warned of “an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs, and undetermined consequences.” Obama has been a consistent, principled and vocal opponent of the war in Iraq. In 2003 and 2004, he spoke out against the war on the campaign trail. In 2005, he called for a phased withdrawal of our troops. In 2006, he called for a timetable to remove our troops, a political solution within Iraq, and aggressive diplomacy with all of Iraq’s neighbors. In January 2007, he introduced legislation in the Senate to remove all of our combat troops from Iraq by March 2008. And in September 2007, he laid out a detailed plan for how he will end the war as president. While American casualties in Iraq may have subsided during the second half of the year 2007 still went down as the deadliest year for the U.S. military in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. 899 American servicemen and women had died there during the year. There has been a lot of talk coming from all of the candidates about what they would and would not do. Hillary Clinton claims on the podium that she would have a troops out in 60 day or begin to at least. Yet on her official campaign website she changes her tune to; “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.” Which basically means she'll look into it on her first 60 days. She even goes on to say; “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.” What happened to the rest of us? What happened to universally 'mandated' health care? The holes and flaws with Hillary don't stop there but that's another blog another time. Rather than focus on Billary's false statements and false hopes let's focus on some real hopes and achievable goals for Iraq. Senator Obama has been condemned by Republicans for his phased redeployment plan for being a strategy for withdrawal (which it is). And he has been accused by Senator Clinton and the far left as not being radical and quick enough. But let's look at this realistically. There is no way in heaven or hell that we're going to be able to just walk away from this mess. This will haunt the coming election and the next. There is no way that we can just up and leave and that is not what Obama is planning. According to his site he says himself; “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.” It's foolish and irresponsible to believe that we can just up and leave in 60 days. Not that Hilary plans to do that , but that's the claim she's making when the cameras are on. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said; “No amount of White House spin can hide the fact that the escalation’s chief objective of political reconciliation remains unmet, Iraqis have not demonstrated any readiness to stand up and take responsibility for their own country, and 2007 was the most lethal year yet for American troops.” Obama clearly states that; “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.” Meanwhile President Bush seeks to undermine any of this talk President Bush's top diplomat in Iraq said that the U.S. plans to keep combat troops there into 2009, and he offered no deadline for a full withdrawal. Bush himself has indicated he is willing to leave more troops in Iraq at the close of his presidency than envisioned. The president said in December, that it was fine with him if Petraeus wants to "slow her down" to meet current security needs. Obama has stated he will immediately begin to remove 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 anymore permanent bases in Iraq. 16 months is a lot more realistic and practical. Another question is what to do with the two million Iraqis are refugees and the two million more that are displaced inside their own country. Obama believes that America has a responsibility to confront Iraq’s humanitarian crisis. Obama will form an international working group to address this crisis. He will expand services to Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, and ensure that Iraqis inside their own country can find a safe-haven. This involves fixing our broken diplomacy record. Obama states in his plan that; “The United States is trapped by the Bush-Cheney approach to diplomacy that refuses to talk to leaders we don’t like. Not talking doesn’t make us look tough – it makes us look arrogant, it denies us opportunities to make progress, and it makes it harder for America to rally international support for our leadership. On challenges ranging from terrorism to disease, nuclear weapons to climate change, we cannot make progress unless we can draw on strong international support.” Obama is willing to meet with the leaders of all nations, friend and foe. He will do so carefully with the necessary preparation, and will signal that America is ready to come back to the table. If America is willing to come to the table, the world will be more willing to rally behind America to deal with challenges like terrorism. To make diplomacy a priority, Obama will stop shuttering consulates and start opening them in the tough corners of the world – particularly Africa. He would like to expand our foreign service, and develop the capacity of our civilian aid workers to work alongside the military. Obama's potential to construct a new politics that is progressive but grounded in civic traditions speaks to a wider range of Americans. An October 2005 article in the British journal New Statesman listed Obama as one of "10 people who could change the world," the only politician included on the list.