© Joshua Wanyama | Dreamstime.com
A bit lost in the top of the week media frenzy: the failure and resulting run on IndyMac Bank; serious troubles at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; extreme umbrage over the satirical The New Yorker cover; a certain presidential candidate delivered a compelling essay on national topic 1a, Iraq.
This pointless and criminally mismanaged war in Iraq was, for several agonizing years, national topic 1, until the not quite official recession took over honors as the new leading source of voter anxiety.
Meanwhile, Senator Obama has taken some heat from what one writer last week described as the “Republic of Portland,” the extreme left wing of his party, concerned about a candidacy that, once the primaries were completed, seemed to veer toward the center.
Time then to begin to flesh out a keystone promise, to “left” the ship, as it were: ending the U.S. war in Iraq.
My Plan for Iraq
Op-Ed Contributor | By BARACK OBAMA | Published: July 14, 2008
CHICAGO — The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.
The differences on Iraq in this campaign are deep. Unlike Senator John McCain, I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president. I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have died and we have spent nearly $1 trillion. Our military is overstretched. Nearly every threat we face — from Afghanistan to Al Qaeda to Iran — has grown.
In the 18 months since President Bush announced the surge, our troops have performed heroically in bringing down the level of violence. New tactics have protected the Iraqi population, and the Sunni tribes have rejected Al Qaeda — greatly weakening its effectiveness.
But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we’ve spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq’s leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge.
Senator Obama is no knee-jerk peacenik, unlike many denizens of his party’s extreme left wing. He is open minded enough to recognize that this nation has military responsibilities that require a military response; unfortunately, our involvement in Iraq is impeding our ability to so respond.
So he has a plan, quite different from his opponent in this election campaign, superannuated Senator McCain.
In this campaign, there are honest differences over Iraq, and we should discuss them with the thoroughness they deserve. Unlike Senator McCain, I would make it absolutely clear that we seek no presence in Iraq similar to our permanent bases in South Korea, and would redeploy our troops out of Iraq and focus on the broader security challenges that we face. But for far too long, those responsible for the greatest strategic blunder in the recent history of American foreign policy have ignored useful debate in favor of making false charges about flip-flops and surrender.
If you can tear yourself away from bank failures and umbrage-taking, take a look at the Senator’s specifics.
The man makes sense. At the end of the day, that’s what this nation needs, sense, not criminality. Clear thinking and reasoned decisions, not thoughtless attachment to the policies of a defiled administration.
January 20, 2009 can’t come soon enough.
It’s it for now. Thanks,