Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Barack Around Iraq!

Via Powerline, comes this vid from the RNC, pithily depicting the pivot-in-progress by the Obama campaign on the question of the Surge's success. It's pretty damning, as only the juxtaposing-video motif can be. Now, this technique can also be highly misleading when sound-bites are presented in decontextualized, prejudicial ways (just ask Jon Stewart, or --shudder-- Michael Moore). In this case, however, it is spot-on. Obama has been consistently saying that the Iraq War is ill-conceived and doomed, that the Surge would worsen the problem (if it had any effect at all), and that the best/only sensible path is to withdraw troops most ricky-tick.

Now, of course, the Primaries are behind him and he is swinging to the center (oh, yeah, and he also finds himself confronted by a Himalayan heap of proof of progress in Iraq which grows larger by the day, and which even his legions of Media mouthpieces can no longer conceal). Nothing especially unusual about that; it's part of what happens when one has to go from energizing the party base to courting the mainstream of the American populace. Par for a very old course.

The problem with Obama in this regard is twofold: First, he is not simply reconsidering earlier positions and revising them, but retroactively editing his positions in such a way as to suggest that his new stance is the one he was advocating all along. Second, this sort of gamesmanship is merely tiresome from politicians who display no serious pretensions of being anything but politicians. It is downright nauseating when coming from someone with whose risible affectations of elevated post-partisan enlightenment we are bombarded with all the subtlety of the Macarena, circa 1996. Can we really be expected to buy the notion that this guy possesses so much as a milligram of integrity when, right before any open pair of eyes, he alters his spin more than a drunken Dervish in a centrifuge?

Yes we can.


Mr.Hengist said...

Let me confess that I have not keenly followed the campaign promises or policy statements of the various Democrat candidates, but I watched that RNC ad and was not impressed. The Obama pivot on Iraq, very much anticipated on the hawkish right wing of the blogosphere, may yet be underway but I haven't seen much evidence for it (not having, ah, looked for it and all...). True, Obama was opposed to the Surge, and to my knowledge he hasn’t yet spoken favorably of it. Obama has also said that he would withdraw one brigade a month over sixteen months, and more recently he’s added that he would do so in consultation with commanders on the ground. That's nothing new, in that this rate of withdrawal was never arbitrary; it was based on Pentagon estimates of the maximum safe rate of withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. That is, the Pentagon has advised our political leadership this is the fastest rate at which our armed forces can safely retreat. Thus, when Obama says he is flexible on the withdrawal rate based on advice of commanders on the ground, this has always been "baked in" to the original rate and timetable as he's articulated it. Since this was based on the Pentagon's estimate of the maximum rate of safe withdrawal, it should be anticipated that the actual retreat would happen at a somewhat slower rate. This is especially probable as it should also be anticipated that the insurgency will, for propaganda purposes, attack and harass our forces as they retreat (i.e., "We chased the infidels out of Iraq!").

Obama should be attacked on the basis of his poor judgment in wanting to retreat (indeed, as fast as possible), not this faux pivot. It is unfortunate that the lack of popular support in America for this front in the GWOT appears to preclude his being attacked on the basis of his opposition to the Iraq war in the first place. As an addendum to the above, I’d add that the Pentagon defines a “safe” retreat as one safe for Coalition forces and does not address the safety of the Iraqi Army, Police, government, or any Iraqis at all, for that matter.

As an aside, Democrats and Liberals refer to the ensuing period of massive civil war in Iraq as one which they define as “peace.” Thus, "Peace Now" would be more accurate if it were expanded to, "Peace for Now for Us"

Noocyte said...

It's not so much that Obama has already executed the Pivot on Iraq, as it is that he can be seen "shaping the battlespace" for a pivot to come. As I see it, the idea that we should withdraw troops at the maximum pace possible has always been predicated on the belief (which is diverging from reality on a logarithmic scale) that the war was unwinnable and/or already lost.

Thus on his website (the following snippet of which is preserved here in bloggy amber, lest it...um...change), Obama can say that:

The goal of the surge was to create space for Iraq's political leaders to reach an agreement to end Iraq's civil war. At great cost, our troops have helped reduce violence in some areas of Iraq, but even those reductions do not get us below the unsustainable levels of violence of mid-2006. Moreover, Iraq's political leaders have made no progress in resolving the political differences at the heart of their civil war.

Obviously, the situation has morphed dramatically from anything even remotely resembling that state of affairs, and therein lies the trap for Obama. Now, I'm the last person to begrudge another the chance to change his mind as new information comes in. What gets me up in such a lather about this is how Obama's senior surrogates are now claiming that he 's always conceded that a surge in troops would be able to bring about a reduction in the violence of the Iraqi "Civil War," when he'd conceded no such thing.

It seems to me that he is transparently massaging the message so as to seem less clueless in the face of the Surge's obvious success. Thus, when he finally plants his feet on Iraqi soil, he can look about him and see that it is good, and declare that maybe our troops don't have to be pulled out at the fastest possible rate, after all...and never have to admit that he was wrong. It's a tediously familiar cocktail of dishonesty, made intolerable by the double shot of hypocrisy.

To be clear, if the net effect of this is that a President Obama (YIKE!) puts the brakes on the Great Iraqi Bug-Out to a sufficient degree that the country doesn't swiftly implode, then fine. If Iraq manages to not be one of the many disasters from which an Obama presidency would force us to spend so much time recovering, then that's to the good, since it is far more important than mere politics...at least, it would seem, to people other than Obama and his crew.