Note: UPDATES are included for 2/26/08 Cleveland DNC Debate
i.e... but but but there has been no "political progress".
Obama, the man touting a campaign based on "change" and hope for the future, instead bandies about rhetoric fixated on the past. In the Feb 21st, 2008 Austin DNC debate, he sidestepped admitting any political progress resulting from the surge:
Well, I think it is indisputable that we've seen violence reduced in Iraq. And that's a credit to our brave men and women in uniform. In fact, you know, the 1st Cavalry, out of Fort Hood, played an enormous role in pushing back Al Qaida out of Baghdad.
But this is a tactical victory imposed upon a huge strategic blunder.
And I think that, when we're having a debate with John McCain, it is going to be much easier for the candidate who was opposed to the concept of invading Iraq in the first place to have a debate about the wisdom of that decision than having to argue about the tactics subsequent to the decision.
Because, ultimately, that's what's at stake. Understand, not only have we been diverted from Afghanistan. We've been diverted from focusing on Latin America.
In short, to Obama, the debate is not about the future of winning and a pro-western Arab state in the Middle East... but about the past decision to go in at all. This is a complete dichotomy to his message and promises to stay focused on the future of the country.
It might be prudent to note that, with all of Obama's posturing about being against the Iraq liberation from the start, he was an IL State Senator in the midst of a US Senate campaign.
CLEVELAND UPDATE: While he acknowledges his official uninvolvement with voting power, he nonetheless feels his opinion warrants "gravitas" and has credence, as he was vying for a Senatorial position. Yet he based that opinion without being privvy to the security briefings and intel provided to existing Congressional members. Thus his decision, of which he is so proud, was based on minimal information.
Quotes from a NYTs article today point out this very same fact.
In a recent interview, he declined to criticize Senators Kerry and Edwards for voting to authorize the war, although he said he would not have done the same based on the information he had at the time.END UPDATE
''But, I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports,'' Mr. Obama said. ''What would I have done? I don't know. What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made.''
It's also notable that Obama cares less for confronting the Islamic jihad movement in the Middle East, and prefers to place import on Latin America. While there is certainly trouble a'brew there, it is hardly the central battleground of the global Islamic jihad movement.
UPDATE: In the Cleveland DNC debate, 2/26/08 (transcripts still unavailable on MSNBC at this writing...), Obama attempted to appear a stronger CIC with tough talk about Iraq. I have to hand it to Russert on this one. He posed the question that if the US withdrew from Iraq, and militant control returned to that country en force, would either of the candidates go back in with US forces to again help the elected Iraqi government prevail? Hillary, this time, sidestepped the question, accusing Russert of putting forth "lots of different hypothetical assessments.". Obama, however used the moment to play the tough guy.
Per today's Libby Quaid article in Newsweek, McCain responded, pointing out the obvious lack of perception by BHO.
TYLER, Texas - Republican presidential hopeful John McCain mocked Democrat Barack Obama on Wednesday for saying he would take action as president "if al-Qaida is forming a base in Iraq."
"When you examine that statement, it's pretty remarkable," McCain told a crowd in Tyler, Texas.
"I have some news. Al-Qaida is in Iraq. It's called `al-Qaida in Iraq,'" McCain said, drawing laughter at Obama's expense.
Obama quickly answered back, telling a rally at Ohio State University in Columbus, "I do know that al-Qaida is in Iraq."
"So I have some news for John McCain," he added, saying there was no al-Qaida presence in Iraq until President Bush invaded the country.
Again, we have Obama campaigning not on the future, or even the present... but the past. Interesting that the MSM and electorate doesn't appear to notice that his thrust of words on "hope", "future" and "audacity" are meant to hinge upon the future, while his focus remains backward looking.
Which brings us to His Messiahship's stance INRE Afghanistan. Obama seems to conveniently skip over the fact that the reins for the Afghan ops have been in NATO/UN's hands for quite some time. Odd considering that the liberal clamour for "int'l cooperation" and NATO lead is one of their mainstay mantras. Can it be Obama, without specifically sniping at the NATO's blatant inefficiency in Afghanistan, prefers US led operations after all?
UPDATE: Last night's verbal dance by Obama appeared to focus on making him look tougher on terrorists. Perhaps it was that Farrakan seal of approval that gave him the noodge to speak more of his foreign policy/military attitudes. BHO's naivety, most especially where Pakistan is concerned, are glaringly apparent. From the MSNCB News site article today:
“Let me make this clear,” Obama said in a speech prepared for delivery at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al-Qaida leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”
BHO went on to draw parallels to justify his proposed unilateral military action, stating that the latest US airstrikes over Pakistan territory resulted in the death of a senior AQ leader. Again Obama demonstrates his naivety, assuming that the US went into Pakistani airspace without tacit nods of approval. Altho Musharraf's blessing was not reported in the NYTs for all to see, there would have been severe blowback for unilateral action.
A US military official with the Combined Joint Task Force-82, the anti-terror unit responsible for searching for Libi in Afghanistan, told CNN he had no information on Al-Libi’s death, but added that CJTF-82 did not collect information from outside of Afghanistan and would be informed of targeted operations only “if the Pakistani military share that with us”.
And oh, BTW... "tacit nod" is the operative word. The Pakistan Interior Ministry doesn't want to be spreading around they are working with the US military in order to keep peace in their own country. So note to nosy, ill-thought journalists... stay out of it!
Obama's plan in a nutshell? To abandon Iraq, and go into Afghanistan/Pakistan.
Obama said that as commander in chief he would remove troops from Iraq and putting them “on the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” He said he would send at least two more brigades to Afghanistan and increase nonmilitary aid to the country by $1 billion.
So much for having the UN leadership and that int'l community live up to their promises. With Obama's plan, it will still be a US mission. END UPDATE
In contrast to Obama's shell game non-response from the Austin debate, you have to give Hillary credit for actually answering the same question posed to BHO about their judgment miscall to oppose an obviously successful surge. Unfortuntely her response, or her advisers, are woefully behind in their current events.
Well, John, I think you forget a very important premise of the surge. The rationale of the surge was to create the space and time for the Iraqi government to make the decisions that only it can make. Now, there is no doubt, given the skill and the commitment of our young men and women in uniform, that putting more of them in will give us a tactical advantage and will provide security in some places. And that has occurred.
But the fact is that the purpose of it has not been fulfilled. The Iraqi government has slowly inched toward making a few of the decisions in a less than complete way, but it hasn't taken advantage of the sacrifice and the losses of life and billions of dollars that have occurred since the surge began.
First, a provincial powers law that turned Iraq into arguably the most federal state in the entire Arab world. The provinces get not only power but elections by Oct. 1. U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker has long been calling this the most crucial step to political stability. It will allow, for example, the pro-American Anbar sheiks to become the legitimate rulers of their province, exercise regional autonomy and forge official relations with the Shiite-dominated central government.
Second, parliament passed a partial amnesty for prisoners, 80 percent of whom are Sunni. Finally, it approved a $48 billion national budget that allocates government revenues about 85 percent of which are from oil to the provinces. Kurdistan, for example, gets one-sixth.
Even that has been addressed... at least on a temporary measure until it can be sussed out more thoroughly after future elections. Again from Krauthammer's op-ed:
What will the Democrats say now? They will complain that there is still no oil distribution law.
True. But oil revenues are being distributed to the provinces in the national budget. The fact that parliament could not agree on a permanent formula for the future simply means that it will be allocating oil revenues year-by-year as part of the budget process. Is that a reason to abandon Iraq to al-Qaeda and Iran?
No one can spend some 10 days visiting the battlefields in Iraq without seeing major progress in every area. A combination of the surge, improved win and hold tactics, the tribal uprising in Anbar and other provinces, the Sadr ceasefire, and major advances in the use of IS&R have transformed the battle against Al Qaida in Iraq. If the US provides sustained support to the Iraqi government -- in security, governance, and development -- there is now a very real chance that Iraq will emerge as a secure and stable state.
The briefing describes these challenges in depth, and it is clear that Iraq can only succeed with years of additional US support in security, governance, and development. The progress in 2008 and 2009 cannot be decisive or irreversible. It will take strong US involvement throughout the life of the next Administration to succeed, and it may well take US aid through 2016. There is a strong case for limiting troop reductions beyond a force of 15 brigade equivalents to patient conditions-based steps that ensure there will be no need to rush back US forces or see Iraqi forces become vulnerable. There is an even stronger case for sustained aid in governance and development until the Iraqi central government learns how to spend effectively and do so with limits to waste, corruption, and ethno-sectarian bias.
Obviously, for the DNC platform, the Iraqi's confirmed (even by prior sceptics) slow but steady performance towards a stable country is "an inconvenient truth" that must not only be ignored, but spun into mistruths in an election year. They doggedly continue to promise abandonment of Iraq. But, in a slap to the faces of their anti-war fringe left, they promise more war... just on a different battleground.
As usual, their judgement and comprehension of the Global Islamic Jihad Movement, the big picture strategy is severely lacking. Instead party politics and their quest for power usurps what is good for the country. And they have no qualms lying directly to the electorate to achieve that power.