Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The WaPo Takes Senator Obama To The Woodshed

On Monday, Senator Obama penned an op-ed in the New York Times that was utterly amateurish on its face. I took him to the woodshed then, and my post has been rightly praised. Today the WaPo does the same regarding his rigid timetable for withdrawal that he is currently try to spin as anything but set in stone:

BARACK OBAMA yesterday accused President Bush and Sen. John McCain of rigidity on Iraq: "They said we couldn't leave when violence was up, they say we can't leave when violence is down." Mr. Obama then confirmed his own foolish consistency. Early last year, when the war was at its peak, the Democratic candidate proposed a timetable for withdrawing all U.S. combat forces in slightly more than a year. Yesterday, with bloodshed at its lowest level since the war began, Mr. Obama endorsed the same plan. After hinting earlier this month that he might "refine" his Iraq strategy after visiting the country and listening to commanders, Mr. Obama appears to have decided that sticking to his arbitrary, 16-month timetable is more important than adjusting to the dramatic changes in Iraq.

Mr. Obama's charge against the Republicans was not entirely fair, since Mr. Bush has overseen the withdrawal of five American brigades from Iraq this year, and Mr. McCain has suggested that he would bring most of the rest of the troops home by early 2013. Mr. Obama's timeline would end in the summer of 2010, a year or two before the earliest dates proposed recently by members of the Iraqi government. The real difference between the various plans is not the dates but the conditions: Both the Iraqis and Mr. McCain say the withdrawal would be linked to the ability of Iraqi forces to take over from U.S. troops, as they have begun to do. Mr. Obama's strategy allows no such linkage -- his logic is that a timetable unilaterally dictated from Washington is necessary to force Iraqis to take responsibility for the country.

At the time he first proposed his timetable, Mr. Obama argued -- wrongly, as it turned out -- that U.S. troops could not stop a sectarian civil war. He conceded that a withdrawal might be accompanied by a "spike" in violence. Now, he describes as "an achievable goal" that "we leave Iraq to a government that is taking responsibility for its future -- a government that prevents sectarian conflict and ensures that the al-Qaeda threat which has been beaten back by our troops does not reemerge." How will that "true success" be achieved? By the same pullout that Mr. Obama proposed when chaos in Iraq appeared to him inevitable.

Mr. Obama reiterated yesterday that he would consult with U.S. commanders and the Iraqi government and "make tactical adjustments as we implement this strategy." However, as Mr. McCain quickly pointed out, he delivered his speech before traveling to Iraq -- before his meetings with Gen. David H. Petraeus and the Iraqi leadership. American commanders will probably tell Mr. Obama that from a logistical standpoint, a 16-month withdrawal timetable will be difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill. Iraqis will say that a pullout that is not negotiated with the government and disregards the readiness of Iraqi troops will be a gift to al-Qaeda and other enemies. If Mr. Obama really intends to listen to such advisers, why would he lock in his position in advance?

"What's missing in our debate," Mr. Obama said yesterday, "is a discussion of the strategic consequences of Iraq." Indeed: The message that the Democrat sends is that he is ultimately indifferent to the war's outcome -- that Iraq "distracts us from every threat we face" and thus must be speedily evacuated regardless of the consequences. That's an irrational and ahistorical way to view a country at the strategic center of the Middle East, with some of the world's largest oil reserves. Whether or not the war was a mistake, Iraq's future is a vital U.S. security interest. If he is elected president, Mr. Obama sooner or later will have to tailor his Iraq strategy to that reality.

This is the problem with Senator Obama, and it is one that was made by Kyle-Anne Shiver wrote about on Sunday, and a point I highlighted today. That point is simple: Senator Obama acts like the sort of person who believes they "know it all." Hugh Hewitt penned a column back on May 8th where he pointed out the utter arrogance of the Obamas-- "So trust me, we’ve seen it all. Barack has seen it all."

This is the sort of attitude he is bringing to the table. He knows more than anyone else, including, obviously, the military commanders in Iraq. The WaPo rightly points out that those commanders in Iraq have said the sixteen month timeline is nearly impossible. The logistics of moving our heavy equipment alone makes the idea foolish, at best; at worst it is naive and potentially disastrous.

There is also the issue of the Iraqi government. It is their nation, after all, so why is Senator Obama dead set on forcing an "iron timeline" on the government without its input? They want to negotiate a timetable with us -- one that is feasible for both sides, and recognizes that broader security concerns must be met before any sort of serious draw down. Senator Obama wants to cut them out of the loop, much like he cut the DNC out of the loop with regard to party operations in this election. (What is worse about the latter is that he does not even have the nomination yet, and he is acting like he runs the show.)

We have made the case, repeatedly, that Senator Obama knows little of what he speaks of. Now the media is beginning to take notice of it. No doubt hardcore liberal journalists like Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman will attack outlets like the WaPo for printing unkind editorials about their candidate of "hope" and "change," but that luster is slowly wearing away exposing a tarnished rookie with little knowledge of the real world implications of what he proses to do.

Kudos to the WaPo for stepping up to the plate, and taking Senator Obama and his Iraq ideas downtown.



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