Friday, July 25, 2008

Barack the Conqueror

At the present moment -- remembering that there is nothing more changeable than a moment -- Hanna Strange reports from Timesonline, these are the positions of Sen. Barack Obama on the war in Iraq:

September 12 2007

"We should enter into talks with the Iraqi government to discuss the process of our drawdown. We must get out strategically and carefully, removing troops from secure areas first, and keeping troops in more volatile areas until later. But our drawdown should proceed at a steady pace of one or two brigades each month. If we start now, all of our combat brigades should be out of Iraq by the end of next year.

"We will need to retain some forces in Iraq and the region. We'll continue to strike at al Qaeda in Iraq. We'll protect our forces as they leave, and we will continue to protect U.S. diplomats and facilities. If - but only if - Iraq makes political progress and their security forces are not sectarian, we should continue to train and equip those forces."

September 26 2007, NBC/MSNBC debate in New Hampshire

"If there are still large troop presences in when I take office, then the first thing I will do is call together the Joint Chiefs of Staff and initiate a phased redeployment. We've got to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. But military personnel indicate we can get one brigade to two brigades out per month.

"I would immediately begin that process. We would get combat troops out of Iraq. The only troops that would remain would be those that have to protect U.S. bases and U.S. civilians, as well as to engage in counterterrorism activities in Iraq. ... I believe that we should have all our troops out by 2013, but I don't want to make promises not knowing what the situation's going to be three or four years out. "

January 31 2007, CNN debate in Los Angeles

"It is important for us to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. I will end this war. We will not have a permanent occupation and permanent bases in Iraq. ... It is important for us to set a date. Because if we are going to send a signal to the Iraqis that we are serious, and prompt the Shia, Sunni, & Kurds to actually come together & negotiate, they have to have clarity about how serious we are."

"... We've got to be very clear about what our mission is. We would make sure that our embassies & our civilians are protected; that we've got to care for Iraqi civilians, including the four million displaced already. We already have a humanitarian crisis, and we have not taken those responsibilities seriously. We need a strike force that can take out potential terrorist bases that get set up in Iraq."

July 3 2008, Fargo, North Dakota

"I have always said I would listen to commanders on the ground. I have always said the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain stability. That assessment has not changed and when I go to Iraq and I have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I’m sure I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies."

Later that same day

"Apparently I wasn’t clear enough this morning on my position with respect to the war in Iraq. I have said throughout this campaign that this war was ill conceived, that it was a strategic blunder and that it needs to come to an end. I’ve also said that I will be deliberate and careful in how we got out, that I would bring our troops home in the pace of one to two brigades per month and that that pace we would have our combat troops out in 16 months. That position has not changed.

"... So we are going to go visit Iraq, I want to have conversations with commanders on the ground, Iraqi officials. When I come back, that information will obviously inform how we shape our plans moving forward. For example, does it - what is the current training situation and how many residual troops might be needed in order to train Iraqis to stand up both the army and the police?"

July 15 2008

"I will give our military a new mission on my first day in office: ending this war. Let me be clear: we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 – one year after Iraqi Security Forces will be prepared to stand up; two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, we’ll keep a residual force to perform specific missions in Iraq: targeting any remnants of al Qaeda; protecting our service members and diplomats; and training and supporting Iraq’s Security Forces, so long as the Iraqis make political progress.

"We will make tactical adjustments as we implement this strategy – that is what any responsible Commander-in-Chief must do. As I have consistently said, I will consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government. We will redeploy from secure areas first and volatile areas later."

As the moment passes, Obama will begin to sound more and more like John McCain, if not President George Bush, the Teddy Roosevelt of the 21st century.

Further modifications (revisions) in Obama’s views may in the offing after he returns from Europe where, standing at the Victory Column in Tiergarten Park
Berlin, a monument that celebrates Prussian prowess in war, he complimented the Germans on their steadfastness at a time when they were hopelessly besieged.

Obama quoted the Mayor of Berlin: "There is only one possibility. For us to stand together united until this battle is won...The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty.”

Obama added “People of the world: now do your duty...People of the world, look at Berlin!"

On the eve of his trip, one friendly newspaper warned the congressman to beware the pitfalls of hubris. Alas, hubris in Washington DC is as plentiful as cherry blossoms in March or erotimaniacal legislators.

Modestly, Obama claimed no part in bringing down the infamous Berlin Wall.

Update, July 28: The spin doctors in and out of the Obama campaign have a new tune to pipe; they are now insisting that McCain, and of course Bush, have adapted their positions to conform to his master plan. And of course, whatever is at the moment is Obama's master plan.
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