Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

That the surge worked is irrelevant

So the Oregonian editorial page would have us believe. Even though it might be true, they say, that John McCain was right about the surge and Barack Obama was wrong:

...it is also beside the point. The adoption last year of Gen. Petraeus' counterinsurgency strategy, as well as the infusion of additional U.S. troops, seems to have improved conditions in Iraq enormously. [Seems to have? Why the qualification?] But now the extra troops have gone home, Iraqi security forces have taken the lead in operations that have made neighborhoods and cities safer, and the national government is more or less functional, despite numerous daunting challenges. And barring a dramatic setback, that's the situation that the next American president will face when he takes office in January.

What matters isn't whether John McCain was right last year when he supported the Petraeus approach. What matters now is whether he or Barack Obama will do the best thing for the overextended military and for the country of Iraq. Further, there's a linkage between the United States' approach to Iraq and its approach to Afghanistan, where more troops are urgently needed to keep the country from slipping back into chaos or extremism.

There's just one problem with this selective approach: If Barack Obama had his way, the surge never would have taken place. More of our troops would be dead. Many more Iraqis would be dead. The Iraqi government and security forces would not have made the strides they have made. And al-Qaeda in Iraq would be in a much greater position of power.

So no, it is not "beside the point." It is entirely the point. It shows that John McCain's instincts about the military -- shaped by decades in the military and dealing with defense issues in government -- are correct. It shows that Barack Obama's instincts -- shaped by three years in the Senate and his time as a Chicago "community organizer" -- will lead to disaster.

And if you don't believe me, check out today's Washington Post editorial about the Iraqi prime minister's supposed support for Obama's troop withdrawal timeline:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has a history of tailoring his public statements for political purposes, made headlines by saying he would support a withdrawal of American forces by 2010. But an Iraqi government statement made clear that Mr. Maliki's timetable would extend at least seven months beyond Mr. Obama's. More significant, it would be "a timetable which Iraqis set" -- not the Washington-imposed schedule that Mr. Obama has in mind. It would also be conditioned on the readiness of Iraqi forces, the same linkage that Gen. Petraeus seeks. As Mr. Obama put it, Mr. Maliki "wants some flexibility in terms of how that's carried out."

Other Iraqi leaders were more directly critical. As Mr. Obama acknowledged, Sunni leaders in Anbar province told him that American troops are essential to maintaining the peace among Iraq's rival sects and said they were worried about a rapid drawdown.

And how does Obama respond to this concern about a rapid troop drawdown negatively impacting peace in the region? He implies that he couldn't care less:

Mr. Obama's response is that, as president, he would have to weigh Iraq's needs against those of Afghanistan and the U.S. economy. He says that because Iraq is "a distraction" from more important problems, U.S. resources devoted to it must be curtailed. Yet he also says his aim is to "succeed in leaving Iraq to a sovereign government that can take responsibility for its own future." What if Gen. Petraeus and Iraqi leaders are right that this goal is not consistent with a 16-month timetable? Will Iraq be written off because Mr. Obama does not consider it important enough -- or will the strategy be altered?

The editorial continues with the answer to that last question, which also answers the Oregonian's editorial -- Obama has shown no proclivity to alter his strategy, but rather is hell-bent on troop withdrawal regardless of what actually happens on the ground:

Yesterday he denied being "so rigid and stubborn that I ignore anything that happens during the course of the 16 months," though this would be more reassuring if Mr. Obama were not rigidly and stubbornly maintaining his opposition to the successful "surge" of the past 16 months.

Oh, and as a final point about Afghanistan, the Post notes:

...there are no known al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, and any additional U.S. forces sent there would not be able to operate in the Pakistani territories where Osama bin Laden is headquartered. While the United States has an interest in preventing the resurgence of the Afghan Taliban, the country's strategic importance pales beside that of Iraq, which lies at the geopolitical center of the Middle East and contains some of the world's largest oil reserves. If Mr. Obama's antiwar stance has blinded him to those realities, that could prove far more debilitating to him as president than any particular timetable.

So Barack Obama is a presidential candidate who refuses to acknowledge he was wrong about the surge (other than wiping his previous statements of opposition from the campaign website); who talks repeatedly about a U.S. timeline rather than one dictated by Iraqis; who speaks of Iraq as an irritant that can be swatted aside; and who has shown a rather George Bush-like interest in maintaining his position regardless of the facts on the ground.

Gee, I feel so hopeful.

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3 Comments:

  • At 7/23/2008 9:44 AM, Blogger I am Coyote said…

    Nice work.

     
  • At 7/23/2008 4:13 PM, Blogger MojoMark said…

    I thought the concept of "President Clinton" was bad... I'm starting to think the "President Obama" might be worse.

    Nice fisking....

     
  • At 7/24/2008 5:14 AM, Blogger L1M89 said…

    [I thought the concept of "President Clinton" was bad... ‘I'm starting to think the "President Obama" might be worse.’]
    Yikes... Before BHO gets to be POTUS he must prove that he’s fully qualified. Certainly his bogus “political junket” wasn’t a résumé enhancer. Also there is a little humorous Rumor that the Daily Kos started about an allegedly forged 1961 COLB for BHO that hints at his being unqualified to be POTUS.

     

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