Edwards on the Long Term American Presence in Iraq

In an interview yesterday with John Edwards, I asked him to respond to assertions by former Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa that Hillary Clinton's Iraq plan was "far more comprehensive," than that of Edwards, and that the former Senator had failed to come up with “a comprehensive discussion of Iraq other than he wants to get the troops out."

"That's wrong," Edwards responded. He described the plan he often articulates on the stump: an immediate drawdown of 40,000 to 50,000 troops, striking up dialogue with Iran and Syria to help keep the war from spreading across international borders, using diplomacy to try and get the warring Sunni and Shia factions to stop killing one another, and residual and rapid deployment American forces stationed in Kuwait and in the neighborhood to maintain stability in the region.

What he often leaves out of his stump speeches is whether he believes America should maintain some military presence in Iraq proper, after the withdrawal.

I asked him that yesterday.

"Unless we are going to take our embassy out, which I would not, I think we need to protect our embassy."

The question then, is how many troops do you need to protect an embassy? Edwards, nor any of the Democratic candidates, have precisely defined the size of the force they are talking about when they call for a non-combat residual force.

Is that a question that any of the candidates wants to answer?