Thursday, July 10, 2008

Obama on Iraq - much less "repositioning" than claimed

If you believed, say, The Washington Post, Barack Obama has gone back on a significant promise he made during the Primaries to withdraw troops from Iraq.
FARGO, N.D., July 3 -- Sen. Barack Obama raised the possibility of slowing a promised gradual, 16-month withdrawal from Iraq if he is elected president, saying that Thursday he will consult with military commanders on an upcoming trip to the region and "continue to refine" his proposals.

"My 16-month timeline, if you examine everything I've said, was always premised on making sure our troops were safe," Obama told reporters as his campaign plane landed in North Dakota, a state no Democratic presidential candidate has carried since 1964. "And my guiding approach continues to be that we've got to make sure that our troops are safe, and that Iraq is stable. And I'm going to continue to gather information to find out whether those conditions still hold."

Obama's own website currently has this to say on Iraq:
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.

What's also said, and strangely missed by, well, everyone, is this:
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.

Am i misunderstanding the significance of this? His website says that a certain situation that Obama believes would mean that he should not withdraw some troops from Iraq would mean that Barack Obama would not withdraw some troops from Iraq. Seems to me like this is exactly the kind of "planning to respond to the existing situation in Iraq" that Obama claims that he has consistently been doing. If I read the website right, the "16-months" promise, is not absolute, and never was.

Obama has been consistent in stating his goal to be cleaning up the Iraq mess in as minimally painful a way as possible. He has consistently stated that the way he would go about achieving that goal would be based on what's happening at the time. If this makes him inconsistent on what his exact proposed policy is, I have no problem with that. I think being willing to re-evaluate your course of action based on new facts is a good thing, and it's something that's been sorely lacking in, say, the presidency of George W Bush.

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