Iraq

Change He Can Believe In

Obama's surprising course on Iraq

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It's hard to keep up with Barack Obama's positions on the Iraq war. When he entered the presidential race, he offered a plan that would take more than a year to withdraw from Iraq. In September, he said he would withdraw all our combat brigades over 15 months or so. This week, he vowed to pull those forces out within 16 months of taking office.

Wow. He's really been all over the lot, hasn't he? No one can possibly tell if President Obama will get us out in February of 2010, or if he'll put it off till April.

Small wonder that a John McCain spokesman said that on Iraq, Obama "has held almost every conceivable position." Or that a blogger for the conservative American Spectator said Obama "has entered John Kerry territory when it comes to changing positions on Iraq."

See for yourself. Obama was against the war before it began—and then, in a complete reversal, he was against it after it began. When he launched his campaign in early 2007, he favored a phased withdrawal. But now, with the Democratic nomination in hand, what does he favor? A phased withdrawal.

Recently he said once in office, he would consult the military and "refine" his policies, while stressing his intention to get our troops out within—you will never guess—16 months.

OK, maybe he's not so inconsistent. Waiting for Obama to alter his policy on Iraq has been like waiting for the Sphinx to smile.

It would be more believable for Republicans to blast him for being rigidly committed to withdrawal no matter what. There are two reasons they are not crazy about this option.

The first is that it would remind the electorate that Obama has always opposed a war that most Americans think was a mistake—and that he favors a near-term withdrawal, as most of them do and McCain does not.

The second is that his opponents want to paint him as a shameless flip-flopper. They would like to change the subject from whether the war was wise to whether Obama is a vertebrate. This tactic worked against the 2004 Democratic nominee, who famously said of a bill to fund the war, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

The problem they face is that Obama is no John Kerry. The Massachusetts senator voted for the resolution authorizing the war and later changed his mind about Iraq. This year's nominee was against the war from the beginning and in the subsequent six years has proven unwilling to reverse field.

Obama, however, has never called for an immediate exit, as some on the left would prefer. He has been consistent in refusing either to accelerate his schedule or to slow it down. I suspect when he talks in his sleep, he mumbles his mantra that "we have to be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in."

His charge this week that the war in Iraq has diverted us from defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan and going after al-Qaida also sounds a bit familiar. He was criticized during the primaries for saying that if the opportunity arose to hit bin Laden in Pakistan, he would do it. A year ago, he gave a speech called, "The War We Need to Win," which called for "getting off the wrong battlefield in Iraq, and taking the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

He was right then, and he's right now. Our recent progress in Iraq has come at a high price: growing violence and turmoil in Afghanistan, with the American death toll last month rising to the highest level since 2001.

McCain insists success in Iraq breeds success in Afghanistan. But Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gives a different picture: "I don't have troops I can reach for, brigades I can reach, to send into Afghanistan until I have a reduced requirement in Iraq." The war in Iraq has drained resources needed to go after the people responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, and the consequences are only getting worse.

That's one of the arguments Obama has been making for several years now. For all their charges of flip-flopping, Republicans aren't afraid he will cave on Iraq and Afghanistan. They're afraid he won't.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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  1. Oh, crap. i agree with Chapman. Andrew Sullivan has basically been tooting the same horn lately.

    And this game me an unintentionally hilarious mental image: I suspect when he talks in his sleep, he mumbles his mantra that “we have to be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in.”

    Because all I could think of is Michelle being woken up by that and beating him to death with the nearest pillow.

  2. Rather good article showing the misguided republican attack on Barack.

    If he wants to stand a chance in November, McCain needs to hire some new political advisers and start sound smart on the economy. Reminding the electorate about Obama’s record on Iraq just doesn’t cut it these days.

  3. John McCain has been pretty consistent on Iraq too. He maintains, and still maintains, that we need to win the war with Iran…er.. Iraq.

  4. I’d bring up Iraq constantly if I were McCain. First, Obama was wrong about the surge, and McCain was correct. I’d play that “judgment” angle all day long. Second, some are starting to say we’ve basically won the Iraq war (see Yon). If that sentiment catches on, McCain is going to win this election.

  5. Here’s some good reading for you Element.

    https://www.reason.com/news/show/125516.html

  6. Yes Element, good thinking. I’m among the “some” who have been saying that we’ve won the Iraq war — basically.

    I’ve also been telling women that I’m an independently wealthy, international coffee importer. My Porsche is in the shop and they gave me this awful 1997 Pontiac as a loaner. Let’s get out of here, huh?

  7. von Laue, no offense, but I’ll take Yon’s word over yours. He is like, actually there and shit.

  8. Second, some are starting to say we’ve basically won the Iraq war (see Yon). If that sentiment catches on, McCain is going to win this election.

    Maybe, maybe not. Since IRaq’s been improving, most voters are focused on the economy, which will improve the chances for the party not currently in the white house.

  9. Abdul, that’s a good point. However, thats one of the reasons I would hammer it home, to keep the focus on it.

  10. Iraq is a losing issue for McCain. No matter how things have or will improve there between now and November, he still has to overcome the not-inconsequential bloc of voters who believe that, win or lose, the war in Iraq was needless, stupid, and not worth the cost in lives and money.

  11. Even though Chapman is right, I am somehow not surprised to see him shilling for Obama.

  12. I’d bring up Iraq constantly if I were McCain. First, Obama was wrong about the surge, and McCain was correct. I’d play that “judgment” angle all day long. Second, some are starting to say we’ve basically won the Iraq war (see Yon). If that sentiment catches on, McCain is going to win this election.

    Well, its true that casualty rates have dropped considerably. And Al-Qaeda in Iraq has suffered a major blow.

    But if victory means a mostly free, mostly stable Iraq; one which can stand on its own and cooperates with the US in counterterrorism; it is hard to argue that we have “won”.

    The Iraq war is a peculiar conflict; and it is perhaps best thought of as several conflicts, some of which are occurring at the same time as each other. The Coalition won the first conflict with the Baathist regime back in 2003. There has since been a conflict with insurgents opposed to the coalition presence, which split into two or more conflicts as Sunni nationalists split with theocratic jihadists. The fight with the former group is sort of in an extended cease-fire, as people try to figure out what to do with the Awakening coucils in the long term. The have also been periodic mini-wars with Sadrists and other extremist Shia forces. And of course, there has been plenty of fighting between religious and ethnic factions and other competing armed groups among Iraqis.

    Given a conflict like this, we will probably need some skilled diplomacy to ensure that things don’t go back to being a convoluted clusterfuck after the coalition leaves. If some kind of schedule for witdrawal from the non-kurdish part of Iraq were put in place, it might help move the negotiating process along; given that most Iraqis, especially Sunni nationalists, oppose an indefinate presence of coalition forces.

  13. Second, some are starting to say we’ve basically won the Iraq war (see Yon). If that sentiment catches on, McCain is going to win this election.

    Some have been saying we’ve basically won* the Iraq war war for more than five years.

    * Bob, tell the lucky folks what they’ve won!

  14. Isn’t anyone going to jump in and say we should not be getting more involved in Afghanistan?

    It is one thing to try to get Bin Laden. It is something less to consider a nation (such as it is a nation) a front on the War on Terror/Drugs/Islamofascism/Oil pipelines/feminism/democracy/metrosexuality/etc

    Obama has recycled Carter advisors like Bush has recycled advisors from his father. Carter got us into Afghanistan. To these guys, they are not people, they are pawns in the Great Game of Nations

  15. libertree —

    In a *War on Metrosexuality*, would not Afghanistan be our natural allies?

  16. In a *War on Metrosexuality*, would not Afghanistan be our natural allies?

    Obviously you haven’t spent much time in Kandahar.

  17. Isn’t anyone going to jump in and say we should not be getting more involved in Afghanistan?

    Personally, I’m having a hard time seeing why its so wrong and inevitably doomed for us to fight the insurgency against the government we installed in Iraq, but a great idea for us to fight the insurgency against the government we installed in Afghanistan.

    Little help, here?

  18. Obviously you haven’t spent much time in Kandahar.

    Sorry, but the M-16A1 is way more metro-chic than any Kalashnikov knockoff.

  19. What were our goals in Iraq anyway?

    1. Make sure Iraq has no WMDs.
    We have done this – we’ve verified that there are no WMDs in Iraq. Mission accomplished!

    2. Get rid of Saddam Hussein.
    He’s not just gone, he’s dead. He ain’t coming back. Mission accomplished!

    3. Ensure Iraq chooses new leaders in democratic elections.
    This has been done too – remember all those purple fingers? Mission accomplished!

    4. Stay in Iraq until Sunnis and Shiites get together to sing Kumbaya, everyone falls in love with Israel, and peace prevails in the entire middle east.

    This last goal is the problem. When you make this your standard for “victory”, you are effectively guaranteeing defeat, no matter how many dollars you spend and how many troops you deploy. The objective may be laudable, but it simply doesn’t represent a reality that U.S. troops can create at gunpoint.

    If the republicans were smart, they would drop that last goal and declare victory based on the first three. Unfortunately they’ve bought into the religious war crap (though they refuse to admit it in public), so it’s imperative to make them suffer electoral bloodbaths until they either wise up or are utterly demolished.

    I’m leery of the democrats when it comes to the economy, and I’m pretty sure there will be times I regret having the democrats controlling the house, senate & presidency (presuming the elections go the way I expect), but I bet the insane republican foreign policy is worse for our economy than anything the democrats will dream up.

  20. Obama will give us more of the same — plus perhaps some additional wars, places like Sudan and Burma come to mind.

  21. The flip is going from unconditional withdrawal by timetable to conditioning it on “stability”.

    Who the fuck is fooled by this?

    The Iraqi government WILL collapse when we leave and the country WILL be unstable when we leave.

    He’s got the mind but does he have the balls?

  22. The Iraqi government WILL collapse when we leave and the country WILL be unstable when we leave.

    Not necessarily. The government may morph into a stable strongman style dictatorship. Like Saddam’s government.

  23. If I were McCain I would be hammering Obama’s judgment on how the surge was going to make the situation worse. Obama’s claim to opposing the war from day one was a speech he gave. He has no voting record going into the war. He only has a record on opposing the surge and on that he was dead wrong.

    If we pull out now, before the Iraqis can stand on their feet, the chaotic aftermath will mean $250 oil.

    –Joey

  24. What would be believable Mr. Chapman is if you actually got the attacks from Republicans on Iraq right. Most Reps haven’t attacked Obama for changing his position on Iraq but rather for not changing it. The bottom line is that he has been spectacularly wrong about the surge, and John McCain has been spectacularly right. Yet, Obama has stuck to the exact same timeline regardless.

    We are now on the brink of victory. Michael Yon, who has spent nearly four years there, says we have already won, and yet Obama wants to snatch that victory and hand the terrorists a defeat. That is what the Republicans have been criticizing him for.

    It is in fact his allies in the media that have been criticizing the so called flip flop. That’s because it is the folks in the media that will stand for nothing but a defeat there. Any hint of flexibility is something the media, not the Republicans, will not stand for.

    You are absolutely right. Since the beginning of 2007, Obama’s position has remained nearly exactly the same, even though the situation has evolved into something totally different, and that is the problem. Here is how I viewed it…

    http://theeprovocateur.blogspot.com/2008/07/stuck-between-iraq-petraeus-left.html

  25. The flip is going from unconditional withdrawal by timetable to conditioning it on “stability”.

    I don’t think so, at least before the election. Obama raised a trial balloon on more flexibility, but, before he went on his “fact-finding mission to the Mideast, he announced that, in effect, no matter what anyone told him in-theater, the sixteen month timetable was here to stay.

    Obama has calculated that his lefty base will forgive him anything by flexibility on the Iraq war.

    Once he gets into office, of course, he is free to stab them in the back. For purposes of the campaign, though, I think “sixteen months” is pretty much nailed to the wall.

  26. I’m truly amazed that the Obamaniacs and the hard left still haven’t managed to figure out that Iraq is no longer the big issue that most normal Americans care about heading into the election. Not even close, really.

  27. “I’m truly amazed that the Obamaniacs and the hard left still haven’t managed to figure out that Iraq is no longer the big issue that most normal Americans care about heading into the election. Not even close, really.”

    Then why is McCain staking his campaign on it?

  28. “Once he gets into office, of course, he is free to stab them in the back.”

    Not if he wants to get re-elected.

  29. “The bottom line is that he has been spectacularly wrong about the surge, and John McCain has been spectacularly right.”

    But Obama was spectacularly right in his opposition to getting involved in the war in the first place and McCain was spectacularly wrong.

    This war was never about fighting terrorism. This was a war about taking the first step in realigning the Middle East for Israel’s benefit. Our interests were never at stake. Over 4000 of our young lost their lives for Israel. Tens of thousands more are permanently injured, both physically and mentally. Over 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians lost their lives. It has cost us 3 trillion dollars, has wrecked the value of the dollar and has driven up oil prices and gasoline prices and has us on the verge of a serious recession. Was it really worth the cost?

  30. So I am in the streets of Iraq everyday.

    I think that if we leave now, the government will hold up.

  31. “If we pull out now, before the Iraqis can stand on their feet, the chaotic aftermath will mean $250 oil.”

    We’ll probably have that if Israel, Cheney, and the neocons are able to bring about the 2nd step of their plan to rearrange the Middle East for the sake of Israel, which is to attack Iran.

  32. “So I am in the streets of Iraq everyday.”

    “I think that if we leave now, the government will hold up.”

    I don’t think that Israel, Bush, Cheney, McCain, or the neocons want us to leave. They want to put permanent bases there.

  33. I’m so sick of people sticking up for Obama.

    It’s easy to say that he was against the war because, well, he was. But that doesn’t explain him voting YES to keep feeding the war with tax-payer dollars.

    Doesn’t that seem a bit hypocritical? It’s like calling off the War on Drugs, yet raising the amount of money going to the DEA.

    And then the new FISA bill? Obama is no saint. Please quit trying to paint him as one.

  34. “The Iraqi government WILL collapse when we leave and the country WILL be unstable when we leave.”

    Not necessarily! Lawrence Korb, assistant secretary of defense under Reagan in an article in the May 19, 2008 “The American Conservative” said, “A US departure will not necessarily lead to genocide and mayhem. Iraq today belongs to Iraqis, a people with their own norms and tendencies. It is quite likely that in the absence of the cumbersome and clumsey American occupation, Iraqis will make their own bargains and compacts, thereby fending off the projected genocide and evicting outside groups like al-Qaeda….once the US sets a date for withdrawal, it will compel the region to claim Iraq, forcing neighboring countries to decide whether an Iraqi civil war, with all its consequences, is in their interests. If nothing else, a failed Iraq will force surrounding nations to confront another deluge of refugees on top of the 2.5 million who have already fled the country…setting a date for a US withdrawal will give Iraq’s political leaders the best incentive to undertake meanful political reconciliation. The US military presence allows the current dysfuntional central government to avoid making difficult decisions.”

  35. “Obama is no saint. Please quit trying to paint him as one.”

    No he isn’t, but he’s the lesser of two evils pertaining to foreign policy and the so-called war on terror.

  36. “Obama will give us more of the same — plus perhaps some additional wars, places like Sudan and Burma come to mind.”

    Plus bring us socialized medicine. I wish there was someway that both McCain and Obama could lose.

  37. “it’s imperative to make them suffer electoral bloodbaths until they either wise up or are utterly demolished.”

    A lesson they should have learned in 2006. How many elections will they have to lose before they finally get it through their thick skulls?

  38. “Personally, I’m having a hard time seeing why its so wrong and inevitably doomed for us to fight the insurgency against the government we installed in Iraq, but a great idea for us to fight the insurgency against the government we installed in Afghanistan.”

    I don’t really see why we need to stay in either country. There was no justification for us to get involved in Iraq in the first place, but the war in Afghanistan was for the purpose of knocking out the Taliban who were providing a haven for al-Qaeda. I think what is needed is using spies to locate bin Laden’s whereabouts, probably in Pakistan, and go after him with special forces. This would minimize loss of life of innocent civilians. The more innocent civilians we kill, the more potential there is for future acts of terrorism against American citizens.

  39. Personally, I’m having a hard time seeing why its so wrong and inevitably doomed for us to fight the insurgency against the government we installed in Iraq, but a great idea for us to fight the insurgency against the government we installed in Afghanistan.

    Little help, here?

    This is how seriously the Iraq hawks take the threat of al Qaeda attacks that were the original justification for invading Iraq: they cannot even remember why we invaded Afghanistan. It was about installing a government, right?

    Osama? Osama who?

  40. I guess Chapman wrote this a couple days ago, because yesterday, the McCain campaign launched an attack accusing Obama of being stubborn like George Bush, because he wouldn’t back down from his determination to end the Iraq War. )The Washington Post just happened to run an editorial with exactly the same message, on the day the McCain campaign rolled out that line.)

    It reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Bart runs for class president. There’s a shot of Martin holding up a sign reading, “A Vote for Bart is a Vote for Anarchy!” Then a pan, and a shot of Bart holding up a sign, reading “A Vote for Bart is a Vote for Anarchy.”

  41. some are starting to say we’ve basically won the Iraq war (see Yon). If that sentiment catches on, McCain is going to win this election.

    We’re “winning” in Iraq, because we’re “negotiating” with Iran. The stability of Iraq depends far more on Iran’s cooperation than anything else, and has for a very long time.

    Of course I’ll probably now be accused of being a “neocon”. Whatever the hell that actually means.

    When we decided that Iran may really wasn’t probable building nukes after all — at least not right away perhaps — that was the signal. Negotiations with Iran had started in the smoke filled back rooms.

    It’s been all over but the cheering for a long time.

    Now, Afghanistan is quite a different story.

  42. bookworm,

    but I bet the insane republican foreign policy is worse for our economy than anything the democrats will dream up.

    You must be far more comfortable with socialism than I’ll ever be, to make a statement like that. The war in Iraq will someday be over and paid for. Socialized medicine, and carbon taxes if we get them, will be with us forever and ever amen. A prospect that may not have bothered me so much when I was younger, and there was still something in my lower brain cells that believed I would live forever, young and strong.

    Wait until you’re older and actually need medical care, you may start to think a little different.

    I think you’re missing it. The media (including Reason) can bash Bush all they want. But I submit that Iraq will, in the long run, be far cheaper than Gore’s proposed “global warming” solutions would have been. And Iraq will be far less damaging than socialist medicine is going to be.

    No he isn’t, but he’s the lesser of two evils pertaining to foreign policy and the so-called war on terror.

    Do you have a clue — any clue at all — what the escalation in Afghanistan is likely going to evolve into? The Taliban are in a region of the world that I do not recall anyone in recorded history ever being able to assert control over, for any length of time.

    Unless you’re ready to just wipe out the population there, nuke the region into oblivion or some such. And Americans really don’t have the stomach for that sort of thing.

    I think what is needed is using spies to locate bin Laden’s whereabouts, probably in Pakistan, and go after him with special forces.

    Catch bin Laden — for what? Will it make you feel better to know that the sheriff got his man?

    Catch bin Laden if you like, the problem is the Taliban and they will survive whether you get bin Laden or not.

    The prospects of Pakistan coming completely unraveled, long before we achieve any kind of stability in Afghanistan, is high to near-certain.

    The exit strategy for Iraq has been “figure out how to kiss and make up with Iran”. It’ll never happen in public fully, but it’s been going on behind closed doors for a long time.

    There is NO exit strategy for Afghanistan, short of invading Pakistan, and then planting enough military force in Afghanistan and Pakistan both to subdue them. And we weren’t willing to put enough boots in Iraq to do the job (which is why we gave up, held our breath and kissed the Persians).

    btw, in case nobody noticed, Iran would like to see the Taliban cut down to size even more than we would. In Afghanistan, Iran will actually be our ally. Which is part of why the back room smooching is going on over Iraq, because everybody knows what’s looming on the other side of Iran.

    You think Bush’s wars have been expensive? Wait until Obama gets serious about fighting in Afghanistan, and the game with Taliban running back across the Pakistan border to rest and resupply gets to really humming along. Iraq is going to start looking cheap.

    Cut the crap everybody. You can’t even argue that Obama’s going to follow a “smarter” foreign policy than Bush, and unless he abandons Afghanistan at the same time as Iraq, you cannot argue that Obama’s is going to be any cheaper.

  43. btw, none of this should be construed as meaning I’m a Bush or McCain fan, because I’m not.

    But I still think Bush was the least evil over his two terms. And McCain might — might — actually be the lesser evil now.

    McCain’s ideology is random BS, sewn together with populist thread. Obama is a clear and consistent socialist, and he’s almost certainly going to have congress on his side.

    McCain will bring us about as close to a split government as we’re going to get this time around. On at least some issues he might actually fight the Dems.

  44. @Scrooge:
    You display utter ignorance of how universal medical care actually operates, as well as Sen. Obama’s proposed medical policy, which is not socialist in the vein of Canada or the UK in the first place. Here is not the place to argue it in depth, but people of all ages are worried about how they’re going to afford health care right now, not just when they grow old. We’re the last country in the free world to not guarantee health care for every citizen in some form, most of them notably non-socialistic, and where 30% of the population of our country has little or no health care whatsoever.

    On socialism, here’s some news for you, and you may not have noticed this, but we have lots of socialism here in the U.S. and I sincerely doubt you would get rid of most of it if you could. Fire and police departments, for instance, are socialist in nature: they are government services provided for the health and safety of its citizens and paid for by tax dollars. Not only would the cost of privatizing them and requiring people to purchase civil security and disaster protection be enormous compared to what we pay for those services taxes, it would leave large portions of the population unprotected. The price we’d pay as a society due to the repercussions of entire city blocks burning down or falling into crime would be far greater than the price we pay in taxes to provide those services universally. The same holds true for medicine, as every first world country has discovered over the past century except the “if it’s broke, leave it there to rust” United States.

    The way you talk you’re going to be sucking down social security benefits pretty soon too, a socialist system put in place to ensure the welfare of the elderly and disabled; if you don’t like socialism, I’d like the couple grand I paid into social security over the past few years back so I can buy myself a nice big HDTV.

    In regard to your comparing the cost of carbon emission regulations and universal health care to the cost of the Iraq war, you are not only comparing apples to oranges, you are comparing cost only in the short term. Ask yourself a different question: what will be the cost, over the course of decades or centuries, of not providing health care to every citizen, and not reducing pollution or pursuing alternative energy sources? Nobody can answer either of those questions accurately, but we can say the price is undoubtedly very high. What’s the price to American citizens of not going into Iraq, and/or having focused those same resources toward actually stopping Al Qaeda? Well, based on the evidence we have now, probably nothing. So we’re looking at short term costs that are somewhere on the same plain, and long term costs that aren’t even comparable.

    Anyway, try a little critical thinking in lieu of being scared of big words like “socialism” next time you sit down to think about how government policy is going to affect you. For a great layman’s introduction to how health care works in other countries, and a demonstration of how much cheaper it is, check out Frontline’s “Sick Around the World” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/). It’s free to watch, and unlike certain other documentaries on the subject it presents several tried & proven options that include keeping medical care and insurance private, much in line with what Sen. Obama has proposed.

  45. Oh, Scrooge, your points about Afghanistan & Pakistan I wholly agree with, except on that, while it’s going to be expensive and difficult, it might actually have a purpose and a perceivable benefit, unlike Iraq which has been a waste of time and effort. I would like to avoid military as an option wherever possible, but when our /Congress/ decides we should go to war I would like the benefit to be tangible and the cause to be well-informed and well-planned.

    Afghanistan and Iraq have both been nightmares, but the mark between good foreign policy and bad foreign policy is not whether or not you ever resort military force, but whether you apply it intelligently and effectively. The Bush administration has utterly failed to do that and we can only hope our next president will take steps toward correcting these mistakes and not repeating them.

  46. Justen,
    You are high, or misinformed.

    You should read these pages more often. Your arguments about police and fire departments are refuted regularly.

    And there are only like 3 socialists on this forum stand up for social security. The rest would just as soon not have it around, even though most of us have been paying into it for a while now.

    And your arguments for socialized medicine have been oft refuted on these pages too.

    The rest of the world can have socialized medicine because we don’t.

  47. Then why is McCain staking his campaign on it?

    Someone has to lose this election…

  48. “Once he gets into office, of course, he is free to stab them in the back.”

    Not if he wants to get re-elected.

    :rolleyes: who else is the hard left going to vote for? Remember, we have a winner-take-all system. Let me tell you a little story bout a man named McCain:

    There was once this guy, named McCain, and he was a ‘maverick’. The media loved him for this. And Republicans hated him. And they were sore afraid. Then, through some miracle of science, McCain won (is the presumptive) the nomination. (Mainly ’cause Bush can’t run again, and Cheny would not seek, nor would he accept the nomination) Republicans somehow gained the intestinal fortitude to get behind him, even though McCain doesn’t seem any different to me than he did 10 years ago when rank and file repubs hated him.

    That’s how this works. In the end, you get behind your party candidate. Wonder what happened to all those angry Hillary supporters who said they’d never vote for Obama if he won the nomination? NPR doesn’t even talk about them anymore. They. Dont. Exist.

  49. In the 1950s, in the wake of Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” plan, Pakistan obtained a 125 megawatt heavy-water reactor from Canada. After India’s first atomic test in May 1974, Pakistan immediately sought to catch up by attempting to purchase a reprocessing plant from France. After France declined due to U.S. resistance, Pakistan began to assemble a uranium enrichment plant via materials from the black market and technology smuggled through A.Q. Khan. In 1976 and 1977, two amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act were passed, prohibiting American aid to countries pursuing either reprocessing or enrichment capabilities for nuclear weapons programs.

    These two, the Symington and Glenn Amendments, were passed in response to Pakistan’s efforts to achieve nuclear weapons capability; but to little avail. Washington’s cool relations with Islamabad soon improved. During the Reagan administration, the US turned a blind eye to Pakistan’s nuclear weapon’s program. In return for Pakistan’s cooperation and assistance in the mujahideen’s war against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the Reagan administration awarded Pakistan with the third largest economic and military aid package after Israel and Egypt. Despite the Pressler Amendment, which made US aid contingent upon the Reagan administration’s annual confirmation that Pakistan was not pursuing nuclear weapons capability, Reagan’s “laissez-faire” approach to Pakistan’s nuclear program seriously aided the proliferation issues that we face today.

    Not only did Pakistan continue to develop its own nuclear weapons program, but A.Q. Khan was instrumental in proliferating nuclear technology to other countries as well. Further, Pakistan’s progress toward nuclear capability led to India’s return to its own pursuit of nuclear weapons, an endeavor it had given up after its initial test in 1974. In 1998, both countries had tested nuclear weapons. A uranium-based nuclear device in Pakistan; and a plutonium-based device in India
    Over the years of America’s on again off again support of Pakistan, Musharraf continues to be skeptical of his American allies. In 2002 he is reported to have told a British official that his “great concern is that one day the United States is going to desert me. They always desert their friends.” Musharraf was referring to Viet Nam, Lebanon, Somalia … etc., etc., etc.,

    Taking the war to Pakistan is perhaps the most foolish thing America can do. Obama is not the first to suggest it, and we already have sufficient evidence of the potentially negative repercussions of such an action. On January 13, 2006, the United States launched a missile strike on the village of Damadola, Pakistan. Rather than kill the targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, the strike instead slaughtered 17 locals. This only served to further weaken the Musharraf government and further destabilize the entire area. In a nuclear state like Pakistan, this was not only unfortunate, it was outright stupid. Pakistan has 160 million Arabs (better than half of the population of the entire Arab world). Pakistan also has the support of China and a nuclear arsenal.

    I predict that America’s military action in the Middle East will enter the canons of history alongside Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Holocaust, in kind if not in degree. The Bush administration’s war on terror marks the age in which America has again crossed a line that many argue should never be crossed. Call it preemption, preventive war, the war on terror, or whatever you like; there is a sense that we have again unleashed a force that, like a boom-a-rang, at some point has to come back to us. The Bush administration argues that American military intervention in the Middle East is purely in self-defense. Others argue that it is pure aggression. The consensus is equally as torn over its impact on international terrorism. Is America truly deterring future terrorists with its actions? Or is it, in fact, aiding the recruitment of more terrorists?

    The last thing the United States should do at this point and time is to violate yet another state’s sovereignty. Beyond being wrong, it just isn’t very smart. We all agree that slavering in this country was wrong; as was the decimation of the Native American populations. We all agree that the Holocaust and several other other acts of genocide in the twentieth century were wrong. So when will we finally admit that American military intervention in the Middle East is also wrong?

  50. I still can’t believe the staff of Reason magazine, of all places, feels a thrill going up it’s leg for Obama. Maybe it’s because he wants to “advance trade that is not just free, but fair for our workers.” Or maybe it’s because he wants to cut “extreme poverty in half, in part by doubling our foreign assistance while demanding more from those who receive it.” Or maybe it’s because he believes “the catastrophic consequences of the global climate crisis are matched by the promise of collective action.” There’s more to foreign policy than the war, guys. And I’m not seeing how Obama is even remotely libertarian on this stuff.

  51. Alfy, but if a “libertarian” can’t be hip, what’s the point?

  52. Ever heard of Google, Steve? It’s a great tool.

    Here’s what you do. Go to http://www.google.com. In the text box, type “Obama Iraq”. Peruse the hits.

    You’re a cool guy, Steve. We won’t ask you to post a sheepish correction saying something like, “Would you believe my article was a deep put on? No. OK, so Reason readers are smarter than the average gal/uy. Without supplying detail (There are dozens and dozens of cases where Obama put forth seemingly contradictory positions on Iraq), I stand corrected.”

    No, we won’t ask you to post a sheepish correction. You’re a cool guy.

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