Edwards comes out strong on Iraq

As if to answer critics who questioned the sincerity of his recent statements about the Iraq war, former Sen. John Edwards has an editorial in today's Washington Post that is one of the strongest statements about the war coming out of Washington. How's this for an opener:

I was wrong.

Almost three years ago we went into Iraq to remove what we were told -- and what many of us believed and argued -- was a threat to America. But in fact we now know that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction when our forces invaded Iraq in 2003. The intelligence was deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda.

It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a dear price.

The world desperately needs moral leadership from America, and the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth.

The piece also starts out strong on "what next," beginning with this statement:

First, we need to remove the image of an imperialist America from the landscape of Iraq. American contractors who have taken unfair advantage of the turmoil in Iraq need to leave Iraq. If that means Halliburton subsidiary KBR, then KBR should go. Such departures, and the return of the work to Iraqi businesses, would be a real statement about our hopes for the new nation.

Not many other politicians of Edwards' caliber are questioning our country's "imperialist image" and calling for war profiteers to be kicked out of Iraq.

Those favoring immediate or quick withdrawal won't be happy with his position holding off "redeployment of a significant number of troops out of Iraq" until after next year's elections. But his plan does includes specifics for withdrawl that you don't see from other politicians, and includes this important admission:

We also need to show Iraq and the world that we will not stay there forever. We've reached the point where the large number of our troops in Iraq hurts, not helps, our goals.

With these and other statements, Edwards' piece represents a radical shift of perspective for mainstream Washington on the war.