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Sen. George McGovern favored a six month withdrawal from Iraq, but supports President-elect Obama's 16-month plan.
Sen. George McGovern says President-elect Barack Obama's plan for a 16-month withdrawal from Iraq is "a big step forward." The 1972 Democratic Party presidential candidate and author of Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now, says he "would have preferred a faster withdrawal."
McGovern's 2006 book, written with William Polk, called for withdrawal from Iraq within six months.
"If our formula had prevailed, we would have been out of Iraq entirely by the end of June 2007," he tells NPR's Robert Siegel.
"Another 2,500 young Americans have been killed since we wrote our book, thousands of Iraqis have been killed — and this is too bad. It's always easier to get into a bad situation than it is to get out. And we're finding that out in Iraq as we did in Vietnam, where we were tied down for a full decade."
Voices opposed to a rapid schedule for withdrawal find some fault with the rigidity of a timetable, but McGovern says that's important in getting out of Iraq.
"If we can believe the public opinion polls, both in Iraq and also in the United States, approximately 80 percent of the Iraqis would now like to see us leave," he says. "Approximately three-fourths of the American people have said they think we're on the wrong course in Iraq and that we should begin to repair the damage by an orderly pullout."
McGovern says that during and after the withdrawal, the U.S. "can't just wash our hands" of Iraq.
"Our occupation and the war that followed that occupation has destroyed much of Iraq. And just as we helped in the rebuilding of Germany and Japan after World War II, we ought to offer some measure of financial assistance in rebuilding the superstructure that has been destroyed in Iraq," he says.
"And anything we do along that line will be considerably cheaper than continuing this war."