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Some questions for Barack Obama:

1. When you speak of “residual forces” remaining in Iraq, how many troops do you envision leaving on the ground and for how­ long? Would the National Guard be among the first to return home?

2. Although you say there will be no “permanent bases” in Iraq, where exactly will the “residual forces” be located? One assumes they will be in heavily fortified areas that might be described as “enduring (if not permanent) military bases.”

3. What will happen to the tens of thousands of private American contractors currently on the ground in Iraq? The U.S. Pentagon recently signed a $150-billion ten-year contract with Kellogg, Brown & Root. What will KBR be doing in Iraq for the next ten years?

4. What will be the process for negotiating any bilateral agreement between the Iraqi and U.S. governments? Do you believe that the U.S. Congress and the Iraqi parliament should be part of any formal review and approval process?

5. If a military solution to the political problems in Iraq was not possible, how is a military solution any more likely in Afghanistan? The Soviet attempt to control Afghanistan resulted in the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Why would a U.S. military effort be any more successful?

Talking Points about Iraq:

The American people have made it clear they want an end to America's military adventurism in Iraq and the Middle East, but to achieve this goal Obama and the Democratic Party need to commit to the following:

1. No permanent (or enduring or “long-term”) military bases in Iraq.

2. The immediate withdrawal of American “contractors” (i.e. Blackwater mercenaries).

3. An end to the coercive “privatization” of Iraq's resources (i.e., the handover of their oil and mineral wealth to American corporations).

4. Substantive diplomacy without preconditions with Iran, and a suspension of all military provocations and CIA “black” operations inside Iran.

5. A genuine commitment to the rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan – without the endless gravy train of billion-dollar “no-bid” contracts to Cheney's Halliburton and others.

6. A clear and unequivocal timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.