The Analytic Atavar

Idiosyncratic Musings of a Retrograde Technophile

My Photo
Location: Chandler, Arizona, United States

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Barack Watch

Obama's Sober Mood, Newsweek Interview, July 26, 2008.

Wolffe: In Iraq, it's not new that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has wanted to take control of his own country. But there's always been this gap between his assessment of his abilities and American commanders' saying he's not up to it. As president, faced with that difference between what he says he can do and what the commanders say he can do, how would you choose between them?
Obama: ... I also think that Maliki recognizes that they're going to need our help for some time to come, as our commanders insist, but that the help is of the sort that is consistent with the kind of phased withdrawal that I have promoted. We're going to have to provide them with logistical support, intelligence support. We're going to have to have a very capable counterterrorism strike force. We're going to have to continue to train their Army and police to make them more effective.

Wolffe: You've been talking about those limited missions for a long time. Having gone there and talked to both diplomatic and military folks, do you have a clearer idea of how big a force you'd need to leave behind to fulfill all those functions?
Obama: I do think that's entirely conditions-based. It's hard to anticipate where we may be six months from now, or a year from now, or a year and a half from now.
So on his signature issue, the War in Iraq, we have the following timeline:
  • In January 2007, at the beginning of the primary season, Barak called for the immediate, total withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 16 months, meaning we would now be gone, the surge would never have been given a chance to succeed, there would be civil war between the Kurds, Sunni, and Shias, and Al-Quada and Iran would be fighting for dominance in the violence racked country.
  • As recently as a month ago, Barak pontificated that on his inauguration, he would call in the Joint Chiefs of Staff [sic] and order them to begin an immediate, total withdrawal in 16 months.
  • Now it seems that the withdrawal is entirely conditions-based, and that Barak anticipates U.S. troops remaining in Iraq for a long time in various support missions. [Note that he fails to mention one of the most important missions, i.e., providing air-support for the Iraqi Army -- the Air Force could rightly feel slighted.]
We are being asked to trust the judgement of a man who says he always opposed going into Iraq and overthrowing one of the worst dictators in the Middle East, who would have rashly withdrawn, plunging the country into civil war rather than succeeding in establishing a democratic ally in the region, who is now nuancing his position into one virtually indistinguishable from that of George Bush or John McCain, and who appears, by his own admission, to be unable to judge what conditions might be 6 months from now. "Change We Can Believe In" seems to mean that whatever Barak says, we can believe he will change that position tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, so he will be able to maintain that he was correct at some point and all the rest was a misunderstanding by the reporters or public, or inartfully expressed, or some such.