"I will listen to General Petraeus given the experience that he has accumulated over the last several years," Obama said. "It would be stupid of me to ignore what he has to say."These are the words of Sen. Obama to Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday," via this Boston Globe article. For once, I am in complete agreement with the junior senator for Illinois. If he had simply stopped there, it would have been an uncommon moment of clarity for him.
Alas, as has so very frequently been the case, it is everything else he had to say which further cemented in my mind the extraordinary geopolitical naiveté which so unquestionably disqualifies him for the Oval Office.
"It would be my job as commander in chief to set the mission, to make the strategic decisions in light of the problems that we're having in Afghanistan, in light of the problems that we are having in Pakistan, the fact that al Qaeda is strengthening," Obama said.
So, in a few short sentences, Obama has correctly identified the intellectual stature of one who would ignore the recommendations of our Nation's premiere warrior scholar...and then proceeded to proclaim himself as one who would do just that.
How exactly, does Obama imagine that a premature withdrawal from an increasingly successful campaign would strengthen our hand with enemies in other, related battlespaces? What signal does he fancy such a move would send to those who would test themselves against American resolve? How confident should potential allies feel about the capacity and will of the United States to protect them from the repercussions of their cooperation when the inhabitant of the Nation's highest office would see fit to yank the levees from the shores of a torrent which is finally showing signs of retreating? And how would we be judged by history and by the countless mother's sons and daughters who would be swept away in the all-but inevitable flood which would follow?
General Petraeus has some notions on this score:
For nearly six months, security incidents in Iraq have been at a level not seen since early-to-mid 2005, Petraeus reported. Also, the level of civilian deaths has decreased to a level not seen since the February 2006 Samarra mosque bombing. Deaths due to ethno-sectarian violence have fallen since September, and the number of high-profile attacks is far below what it was a year ago, the general said.
While this progress is significant, al-Qaida is still capable of lethal attacks, and the coalition must maintain pressure on the organization and the resources that sustain it, Petraeus said. Defeating al-Qaida will require actions by elite counter-terrorist forces, major operations by coalition and Iraqi conventional forces, a sophisticated intelligence effort, political reconciliation, economic and social programs, information operations initiatives, diplomatic activity and many other actions, he said [emph. added].
No matter how I try and wrap my mind around it, I am unable to fathom how operations of such scale and breadth and complexity could possibly be executed --let alone be serviced by nuanced, timely, and actionable intelligence-- from "over the horizon" in Kuwait or elsewhere (at least he didn't suggest Okinawa). The resiliency and tenacity and ruthlessness of our foes would swiftly overwhelm the efforts of any such half-hearted, phoned-in force, to the despair of the Iraqi people who have so very recently tasted the barest appetizers of hope.
And, speaking of "Hope," here we have an answer from Obama's own web site:
Bringing Our Troops Home
Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda [emph. added].
It simply boggles the mind. So, then, President Obama's response to a viciously aggressive enemy is to stand off, wait for him to establish a foothold, then blunder in with guns blazing, kill some folk, then retreat until he manages to regroup again. Splendid strategy. I'm certain that the contractors who struggle to rebuild infrastructure and the teachers who labor to educate the young and the women who yearn to establish themselves in a civil society which grants them equal footing with men on a day-to-day basis will be grateful indeed for those gunships thundering over the horizon to rain fire on the heads of those who have just tortured and killed their neighbors. Hope, indeed!
Obama is, quite simply, in over his head and not ready for prime time. And, for once, he has said something which appears to suggest that --just maybe-- a portion of his consciousness knows it.
UPDATE 4/28/2008, 2:31AM: Edited for clarity and flow.