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The WASHINGTON POST on Obama’s Eccentric Strategic Vision

Here’s a summary of that fair-and-balanced paper’s skewering of Barack’s strategery: Are you nuts? Iraq’s no distraction! Any idiot can see it’s much more important than Afghanistan!

Discussions - 10 Comments

Hey Peter:

1) we need to leave Iraq, sooner rather than later. Obama understands that (and will probably win the election because of that), McCain doesn't.

2) neither does the Washington Post, which, far from being "fair and balanced" on Iraq, has been pro-war from the start. As far as I can tell, the WaPo editorial board is motivated by a mood that you might call self-congratulatory realpolitisches centrism, which is modulated through a "pox on both their houses" sentiment when domestic politics is concerned. So fair and balanced is an odd description, unless you're saying that the WaPo editorial board brands itself like Fox News, but I think you need scare quotes for that!

Maybe Brett can enlighten on why we "need to leave Iraq, sooner rather than later" and especially why Obama's strategic vision is wiser than McCain's. And while he's at it, perhaps he can explain why Obama has consistently walked his "gettin' out of Iraq" mantra back so far now that his position is largely indistinguishable from his GOP opponent?

far from being "fair and balanced" on Iraq, has been pro-war from the start.

And why is that not "fair and balanced"?

John: last week, Chris Wallace mentioned an editorial that criticized Obama on Iraq by saying "even the Washington Post" disagrees with Obama. Of course they do - they've been war cheerleaders. That's not "fair and balanced," it's just on the wrong side.

Michael: a permanent or semi-permanent base in Iraq is not going to be a strategic plus in the long run, especially if the Iraqis want us to leave, as it seems they do. My sense is that your history is wrong - it's McCain and Bush who have now embraced "time horizons" (but for God's sake don't say "time line" because that's different! what a sophmoric piece of rhetorical legerdemain). McCain's still fighting Vietnam, which is what all the "leave with honor" stuff is about. This isn't Vietnam. We accomplished our objectives, at some cost to our principles and enormous costs in lives (ours and others) and money. Now it's time to leave.

I don't thnk Brett is right on the POST. But he's sort of partly rightly along the lines of Friedman's column: McCain was right on the surge, and that's good for Obama. I've already talked about this. Because of the surge's success (which was based less on more troops and more on a changed strategy), the Iraqis have become a lot more confident they can go it alone soon. Even or especially our friends there will quick come to resent us if we don't give them a shot. Our gradual, flexible withdrawal over a couple of years really seems feasible now, certainly not like the dishonorable abandonment of Vietnam. As Friedman says, nobody cares whether McCain was right on the surge, because we're in a post-surge environment. Obama will find a soft and ambivalent way to acknowledge the success of the surge without crediting Bush or McCain much, and he's already, as we've seen, loosening up on the idea of rigid deadlines. But Iraq is still a much bigger deal than Afghanistan. And the POST has usually been right on the war. Most importantly, Obama isn't going to beat himself.

The conventional wisdom among conservatives is that McCain cannot win on the surge (best expressed by Jonah Goldberg). If the success of the surge is expressed primarily in terms of improved conditions in Iraq, the the conventional wisdom is probably right. But there might be a more effective way to highlight how McCain was right, Obama was wrong, and why it matters.

1. Focus on Al Qaeda. In early 2007, Al Qaeda controlled large parts of Iraq. They had set up bases, were cutting off people's heads, building bombs, and planning bigger things. McCain supported the strategy that defeated America's enemies. Obama wanted to run away, leave Al Qaeda's bases intact and hope for the best. Takeaway: McCain stood up to Al Qaeda and won. Obama wanted to run away from Al Qaeda and we should thank God he wasn't President.

2. Its tough to shift the language but try to stop calling it the surge. The surge is not only misleading (it obscures the conterinsurgency elements), it is tied to a President that is disliked by over 2/3 of the public. Try calling it the Petraeus strategy. Petraeus is a brilliant victorious general. The only people who dislike him are Obama's more radical followers. It also helps point out that Obama has consistently disagreed with Petraeus and has consistently been wrong.

3. The success of the Petraeus strategy gives Obama the chance to wriggle out of the consequences of the policy mistakes he has made. Only the McCain campaign can fully hold him to account, and only if they frame their message the right way. Prof. Lawler is right that Obama won't beat himself. Obama's vulnerabilities will only hurt him if they exploited in the most effective way.

Saying that we need to leave Iraq "sooner" strikes me as unwise, since if we leave TOO soon we'll be throwing away what our forces have achieved and will wind up with a worse mess on our hands and fewer means available to fix it. We should draw down when and to the extent that it's safe (non-destablizing) to do so. That could be sooner, or it could be later. Conditions on the ground, and not cries of "sooner!" should be the key.

As for the "Iraqis" not wanting any U.S. bases, I wouldn't be too sure about that. For one thing, a lot may depend on which "Iraqis" you are talking about. The Kurds would almost certainly welcome a continued U.S. presence in their region. And I wouldn't take all the Iraqis' posturing at face value, either. Sure they want to do some muscle-flexing, but push come to shove, when their leaders evaluate this matter in the cold light of day, they realize that, as one Shia politician recently told Kim Kagan, "Iraq is flying west."

But as has been said on another thread, having been right about the surge will not get Johnny Mac into the White House. There are other, more helpful issues for him to focus on now.

Seems the false messiah might have gotten a bounce.

I was beginning to wonder there for a while. The coverage was unprecedented, and no previous candidate ever took a victory lap prior to actual victory, as the false messiah just did, ------------- but still, why so little a bounce, why so great a lag between the coverage and the bounce. Meanwhile, McCain did nothing really to intrude on Obama's tour, {treating it with the kind of kid glove delicacy usually reserved for Convention events}, so Obama had center stage, and he got a meager bounce, -------------- and lets see how long that bounce lasts.

Unprecedented coverage, all favourable, all uncritical, a media entirely in the tank, yet still, the bounce is less than 10 points.

Clinton by now would have had 20 points, easy. And can the false messiah duplicate that tour, can he take another such tour during the campaign, where he's stands all alone front and center, with a devout media prostrate before him.

What's that line from the past, "a fool and his bolt are soon shot...." Something like that. Obama would have done better to schedule his big adventure in Europe during McCain's convention.

Obama is all ambition and illusions,but a President must lead a Gov with the Secretaries as an exec.
The present American legacy is attacking Iran and defending Our soldiers' surging,well different from Obama's world citizenship without enemies!

Obama is unpatriotic and is just inflating his media bluff,cuz he's a mass product,a citizen of the world,never been in the Army that he hates

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