Train in Vain

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I'm glad to see the Democratic debate turn once again to the subject of Iraq and national security issues where I think there may be more substantive differences between the candidates than you see on the domestic sphere. In an interview with The New York Times's Michael Gordon, for example, John Edwards underscores his opposition to a prolonged US "training" mission that would keep the US military engaged in Iraq's civil conflicts for an extended period of time. I think Edwards is completely correct on this (see, e.g. Brian Katulis' "Killing the Patient") but it's an issue that lots of Democrats in good standing are divided about and thus something it makes sense to have the candidates debating.

The Obama and Clinton campaigns seem to me to be deliberately trying to stay vague on forward-looking Iraq issues, the better to keep their options open for the campaign and for governing purposes. That makes sense, obviously, and there's a decent chance either of them would wind up doing the right thing in the end, but it's even better to see a candidate who's willing to actually stake out that position.

US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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