(Reuters) - Following are the leading 2008 presidential candidates’ positions on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton:
Initially voted to authorize military action against Iraq but later said that if she knew then what she knows now, she would not have voted for it; steadfastly refused to apologize for the vote.
Has urged revoking congressional authorization for the war, capping troop levels at January 1, 2007 levels, and permitting US forces to provide training, counterterrorism activities and logistical support.
Opposes permanent bases in Iraq. If she is elected, she says upon her inauguration in January 2009 she would order the Pentagon to draw up a plan to begin bringing troops home within 60 days.
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama:
Would begin immediately withdrawing from Iraq one or two brigades a month and have all troops out within 16 months; call a U.N.-led constitutional convention in Iraq that would not adjourn until reconciliation is reached; develop a regional security compact.
Would refocus energies on the al Qaeda threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan — he has urged sending at least two more brigades to Afghanistan.
Rules out using nuclear weapons against al Qaeda or Taliban targets in Afghanistan or Pakistan, prompting charges that he was showing his inexperience. He supports strikes against al Qaeda targets in Pakistan if without cooperation from Islamabad.
Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards:
Would withdraw 40,000-50,000 U.S. troops from Iraq immediately, followed by withdrawal of remaining soldiers within nine to 10 months while keeping a military presence in Kuwait and large naval force in the Gulf.
Says he would exert all diplomatic and economic pressures on Pakistan to help deal with al Qaeda before resorting to use of U.S. force.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani:
Believes setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake but urged turning over more responsibilities to Iraqis as soon as possible. Expects a long presence in Iraq.
In Afghanistan he would seek to turn over more responsibilities to local authorities but doubts a withdrawal possible before 2009. He is open to strikes in Pakistan if no other alternatives.
Arizona Sen. John McCain:
Backed adding troops to improve security, accelerating training and equipping Iraqi forces and police, and pushed for embedding soldiers in communities to help ensure insurgents cannot return. He called for an end to rotating commanders to avoid disrupting continuity in command. Wants pressure on Syria and Iran to stop activities in Iraq, but is against unconditional talks with Tehran and Damascus.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney:
Supported the increase in troops in Iraq this year but would begin gradual reduction based on progress. Against strikes in Pakistan or sending U.S. troops “all over the world”.
Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson:
Backed keeping U.S. forces in Iraq for now but beginning to withdraw if conditions permit in spring or in summer 2008 as outlined by the Bush administration’s plan.
Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; writing by Jeremy Pelofksy and Paul Grant, editing by David Storey SOURCE: campaign Web sites and appearances.