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Obama’s Plan for Iraq

Posted on Jul 13, 2008
Flickr / Allison Harger

Barack Obama has an Op-Ed article in Monday’s New York Times outlining his vision for Iraq. It’s mostly a rehashing of positions he has stated over and over again, but it’s interesting to read the quilt work of stump speeches, debate sound bites and policy papers assembled into one document.

Barack Obama in the New York Times:

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.

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By cyrena, July 15, 2008 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

Part 1 of 3

Nearly every threat we face—from Afghanistan to Al Qaeda to Iran—has grown.”
Here we go again! An aspiring president talking about Afghanistan and Iran as growing threats, must be very naive and misinformed, and almost a mouthpiece for the AIPAC or Israel!

Greetings Fadel,

I just attempted to send you a response to this via email, but got a response that you were away, and a redirection to another place, that didn’t work out. So, I’ll save it until there’s a good address for you.

That means that I’ll have to post a response here, but not the one I’d planned. I think it would probably be a waste.

That said, I have to say that I responded to this particular quote from the op-ed piece the very same way that you did. In short, I lingered over this very statement, about the ‘nearly every THREAT we face…from Afghanistan to Iran, have grown. Yes, it does pose a concern for me as well, because this is one of the few positions where I have disagreements with Obama. Still, I had to laugh out loud when you wrote: “Here we go again”. It’s not funny, but it is true. So it was just the way you said it that made me laugh, and only because it was coming from you.

And so to all:

Before I focus on my own disagreements with Obama, (which are directly related to that quote) I should say that I very much agree with Tony Wincher on this, in respect to Obama’s CONSISTENCY. He HAS been consistent, and I think that’s important. As it is, this *particular* area where he’s been consistent, is (at least in part) where I have some disagreements with him.

In this statement about the growing threats, it may be academic to say that he IS correct. What I don’t necessarily agree with, is that these are ALL ‘threats” OR that they are threats to US security. For instance, in my own analysis, Iran is *not* a ‘threat’. But, that is simply MY opinion, based on what I consider to be a ‘threat’. That is NOT to say or otherwise ignore that Iran *has* grown enormously, in it’s power and influence in the region. To deny that would be foolish. Of COURSE they are far more powerful now, than they were before Saddam was overthrown, and Iraq was destroyed.

But for me, that does not mean that they are a ‘threat’ to anyone. They certainly are not a ‘threat’ to the US, and that’s where we are, and what we should be concerned about. If I suspected that they might be a ‘threat’ to Iraq or any of their other mostly Muslim neighbors, that would be a concern. But, I don’t believe that either. The imperialists and the repugs will swear of course, that Iran plans to turn Iraq into a Theocracy. There is perhaps a danger of that, but again, that is not OUR concern. The Iraqis can manage to handle their own affairs and WITH the assistance of Iran, and whatever they choose for themselves is what they choose for themselves. But overall, they NEED that assistance, along with the other Muslim neighbors in the area, and that’s the bottom line. If Iran is more geopolitically powerful in the region now, so be it. That’s what the neo-cons get for their arrogant imperialistic adventures and being someplace we never belonged in the first place.

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By cyrena, July 15, 2008 at 8:42 am Link to this comment

Part 2 of 2

As for Afghanistan and Pakistan, being the concerns that Obama has consistently voiced, I don’t’ see Afghanistan as a ‘threat’ either. They never were in my opinion. The thug regime created THAT destruction as well. Be that as it may, what is happening in Afghanistan now, is obviously a threat to the salvation of the people who live there. These non-stop suicide bombs and the obvious presence of a growing militancy certainly cannot be overlooked. It’s KILLING them. (though I’d say that the US Military is killing MORE of them.) Pakistan is a powder keg for the same reasons, but more importantly, they DO have the bomb! That cannot be ignored, despite the fact that the US is the reason for it all.

I disagree with Obama’s assessment of the global terrorism threat, and it’s NOT because I don’t believe that there IS a global threat of terrorism, because there is. I know that. I’ve spent too many years studying it, in theory and in the reality of how/why it unfolds. Terrorism is not some new phenomena. However, there is no denying that it has GROWN. He’s not wrong about that. I believe that he has not yet studied carefully enough, the origins of this terror, or why it is even more of an issue now than it was before the thugs made it far worse. I believe that he needs to do that. I don’t believe that al-Qaeda is a threat to the US, nor do I believe that they are a largely operating force even in the region. But there are enough of them and other similar discontents running loosely in that area, to have created multiple wreckage and havoc on human existence. The Dick Bush habit of befriending the other terrorist regimes in the area and calling them ‘allies’ has only made it worse.

Then there’s Israel…a thorn in the side of the world, and a cancer upon the entire region, either directly or indirectly. And Israel is a product of the West, given birth as much by Western Europe as the US. It’s become the equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster. Israel is like the incorrigible orphan or stepchild adopted by the natural family, only to have that generosity retuned with pure hate and exploitation. Talk about a most extreme example of biting the hand that feeds one, that is Israel; as much now as it’s been since its inception. No doubt I’ll be crucified for this particular piece of truth, but what the hell. The same has happened recently as a result of totally superficial bullshit, so we might as well make it worth something. Anyone who believes that Israel has nothing to do with the disaster and destruction that the neo-cons have perpetrated since 2000 (and before) is in denial. They should get over it.

Not long ago I was chatting in person with another poster on the issues of this election, and she in a very matter-of-fact manner, that WHOEVER the next president is, is going to have to deal with Israel. I accepted the truth of that, but it still pisses me off. It pisses me off because we have so many needs as citizens here in our own country, that I don’t see why OUR president needs to spend his/her/its time, energy, or other resources, ‘dealing’ with Israel.

Which brings me to my larger point about the selection of a US president. While all of the above is true, there are 300 million plus people in the US, and less than a 1/3 of them know anything about Israel or any of these other global players. More to the point, THEY DON’T CARE. *Should* the other 2/3rds know and care? I think so. But the reality is that they don’t. Even many of the highly educated don’t know because for one obvious reason, that part of the world is over 10 thousand miles away. If the larger percentage of the population in Oakland, CA doesn’t know what’s going on in Billings MT, why would we expect them to know what’s going on in Israel, or Iran, or Palestine, or Afghanistan? The US corporate media sure isn’t

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By cyrena, July 15, 2008 at 8:41 am Link to this comment

Part 3 of 3

Overwhelmingly, Americans are concerned with what is going on with them in their own communities. They care about their welfare and that of their loved ones. They want the security that a stable society provides in terms of the basics. Jobs, housing, food, health care, education, and the opportunities to live decent and productive lives with a maximum of dignity and respect for themselves and their interests. They want to be free from the stresses of everyday crime in their neighborhoods, and protection for themselves and their loved ones against those who would exploit them. They don’t care about what is going on in Iraq or Afghanistan, unless they have loved ones in harms way, without really even understanding why they are. And even THEY are a minimum of the population, because the dying and misery we’ve experienced there has been undertaken by only a small part of the population. MORE people are aware of the fact that our treasure as well as that blood is being spilled, which is why ending this war, (as Obama originally promised) is of paramount importance to most Americans that can still afford to pay attention. But it’s all of this other stuff that they are tuned into, if they can be.

So when it comes to selecting a president, THAT’S the stuff they want to hear about. That’s what the average American cares about, and that’s the bottom line. And if they can ever get to a point where they can begin to look up, and around, to know and understand how all of the rest of this fits in, then that will be a wonderful thing. But for now, that isn’t even possible. So when they select a president, they have to have some hope that he or she is going to address THESE things, right here, or right where ever they happen to be. That doesn’t mean that the other 1/3rd or so of us shouldn’t be paying attention if we can, and it doesn’t mean that the US president can afford to ignore the rest of the world either. But the US president is still the US president, and the concerns of the US should be his or her first priority. THAT’S what US voters currently care about, and that’s how they will select a president, because that’s how they SHOULD select a president.

We’ve been terrorized for 8 years and the US population is in shock and despair. More than anything else right now, we need some stability and a repair of our own wounds. Barack Obama is the only viable candidate that can accomplish that, with the help of an equally aware and effective administration and Congress, and the involvement of the citizenry at the local levels. Anything else at this point in our history would finish us off.

The other option would be to have no administrator at all. Nobody to oversee the operations of the agencies and other institutions that have already begun to fail us. Now in better times, we might actually get away with that. There are lots of things that can continue to exist after the head has been removed. But only for so long. And, this isn’t one of those times, because we’ve already been in destruction mode for the past decade.

So the last option would put keep the repugs in long enough to complete the destruction.

It’s just not much simpler than that.

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By Tony Wicher, July 14, 2008 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment

Obama’s Op/Ed piece ends,

“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.

It’s not going to work this time. It’s time to end this war.”
I think Obama has been pretty damn consistent on Iraq. I do agree with those who say that it is going to be interesting to see what those “residual forces” are going to look like. I find it hard to visualize. To me either the U.S. is militarily occupying Iraq or it isn’t. How many “residual forces” does it take to make an occupation? How many grains of sand does it take to make a heap? Well, this is something Obama will have to figure out when it comes into better focus as events develop on the ground.

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By dihey, July 14, 2008 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

For more than one year I have warned that Senator Obama is a dangerous albeit “lite” imperialist who might get us into new or expanded wars when elected President. Today the cat is out of the bag. Obama wants to remove from Iraq not only “combat units” but eventually all military to use, in part, as feedstock for an “Obama-surge” in Afghanistan. As a first installation he demands that President Bush send 7000 soldiers now! Eventually he wants to increase the number to 65,000 or more. This is a reckless gamble on a grand scale. It will increase the number of American and Afghani casualties and chances are slim to nil that more foreign military will ever stabilize the country which has not even a “national Afghan army” that can take over. There are only Afghan warlords with their squads. This “Obama-surge” is the summit of idiocy because, unlike Iraq, there is not even the barest strategy for withdrawal. If we do not leave voluntarily or are kicked out we will be in Afghanistan forever as the Soviet experience tells me. When more reports of accidental bombings of marriage revelers happen our “willing allies” will become “quitting allies” for sure. The frightening aspect is that most Democrats and Republicans in Congress will support the “Obama-surge” and it is likely that a President McCain will also “surge” in Afghanistan. They all seem to want to have their own personal “surges”: Bush, Obama, NcCain. “We, the people” are the victims, morally, politically, and economically. All Obama-supporters: be forewarned there will be no end to war and occupation of the Middle-and Far East under an Obama administration. I am right now but I will not run for the Senate.

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By jersey girl, July 14, 2008 at 2:54 pm Link to this comment

“After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal.zzz’

Ahhh and there lies the rub.  “residual forces” So he intends to stay and make use of those pretty bases forever as well?

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By rage, July 14, 2008 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“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.”

Yeah, but Halliburton Cheney and a few other BFEE jackals have made a literal killing from this ruse. How’s Dick going to pay more in taxes from his real earnings and dividends than he was compensated for technically being the Vice President of the United States if America gives up the occupation of Iraqi oil drumming, er, uh, the War on Terror? C’mon, Obama! It’s the only reason that corporate rube Clipart Romney wants to be Grampers’ Vice Presidential business partner. Mittens needs to recoup his losses from that failed attempt to purchase the chance to impersonate Reagan himself in 2009. Jerk! Meanwhile, Grampers wants to extend this War-for-OIL roadshow into Iran for another 100 years of unregulated, untaxed corporate profits. Gramm was right about these broken whiners, bunch of feckless complainers failing to see the big picture. C’mon, Obama! You got the Congress and the Senate in on this thing! There are two or three lobbyists assigned to every single legislator on the Hill, all with an open, ready checkbook connected to the generousity of any of a multitude of corporations offering, er, uh, legislative support from some military industrial complex already making cash hand over fist by the roomful in Iraq! Just say the word, and these unelected hacks will write any legislation the Congress or Senate needs to pass to keep this War on Terror and any other lucretive ruse alive and kicking indefinitely! We can always sell the debt to foreigners, and find some way to screw them out of paying that debt later on. So, screw Osama bin Laden! Screw al Qaiada! Screw the Taliban! Screw our troops and their civilians! Screw the facts and the deceitful figments of our imaginations brought to life by dedicated intelligence agencies from allied nations, all compensated godlessly well with US tax dollars for doing the bidding of the all powerful global corporatocracy, consequently raping those gullible American sheep for their inalienable Constitutional rights and liberties. Finally, screw the bamboozeled, powerless, hopeless, homeless, jobless, hungry, naked, struggling little tax-paying whiners who are naive enough to think their votes count, they have a voice in a representative government, or think they reside prosperously in an independent democratic republic striving for global freedom! HA! What idiots! The governing global corporatocracy will literally die and go to hell THRICE before it allows some farcical, albeit idealistically nationalistic democratic republican dystopia to stand in the way of corporatocratic profits! Hail FASCISM, where money still talks and the wealthy elitist derrided manure known as common HUMANITY still wearily runs a contentious marathon for its very soul!!!—said the cheif ReThugniCon demons, all prodding and tempting our struggling Illinois neophyte!

Look, Obama, this is not the issue on which you can afford to callowly backpedal the very first time the ReThugniCons hollar sanctimonious selfrigteous indignation at your daring to tell the unadulterated truth out loud. Your supporters are behind you on this one! So, hold on to your antiwar stance tight with BOTH HANDS way more convincingly than you did on your vow to fillibuster the FISA bill! Just because you’re running against an irrelevant old coot does not mean you can afford too many more direct hits on your steadily DIMINISHING credibility. Too many of your supporters are simply voting against Dumya in Grampers. So, wake up and recognize, bruh! Cave on this one, and you really will be toast!

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By cyrena, July 14, 2008 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

By Louise, 
cyrena, regarding boo-boo,

•  “Don’t worry about it. I had that figured out the second I read it. I even thought about posting that (this) when I read it, but didn’t. Wish now I had.”

Thanks so much for the pep talk Louise. I know of course, that you are 947% correct, and I give the same advice to everyone I know and care about. And ya works! wink ‘Cause..that’s what we’re ‘posed to do.  And, while I don’t happen to read the Bible myself, (at least not anymore) I DO remember that part, and it too…is overwhelmingly correct. So thank your daughter for the reminder. There’s no doubt that they’re transparent as that hole in the wall, or the holes in their drawers.

Thing is, you pretty much know me by now, (well, especially since according to the trolls, you, Outraged, and me are all the same person) . So, I generally don’t get too hot and bothered, and ignoring is always my best advice. But, when you have pestering flies that will just NOT GO AWAY, it’s like..WHAT GIVES? Yeah fine, hang around if you want, but..LEAVE ME OUT OF THE BULLSHIT! I’m feeling like Obama felt in an interview he and Michelle gave a month or so ago, when they were questioning them both about some of the smears, (it was a friendly interviewer, but can’t remember her name now). Anyway, he was like, “They need to lay off my wife!” And, it’s certainly not because Michelle can’t speak for herself. She too is a highly intelligent woman with great compassion and is totally genuine. It’s just that enough is enough. There’s absolutely nothing to be gained from this.

And, it’s not even a matter of me wanting to CHANGE any of their opinions, because we KNOW you’re right on the mark there. I just want ‘em to leave ME the hell alone, and quit lying. I mean, *I’M* not running for president, or anything else. I’m not looking for any attention, and I don’t WANT any! And, it’s about time we got some non-poisonous fruit around here. I’m hungry. I feel like I’ve been packing to move for about 100 years. And the more I pack, the more stuff seems to appear around me. I have no idea what that’s about. Every time the kids show up to move another batch of stuff, they’re like..”Where did THIS come from?” And I’m like,  “I don’t know. I guess yahoodi put it there”. They just look at me rather ‘indulgently’ as they do the eye rolls. 

Ok, I see that Fadel has broached a question from Obama op-ed in the NYT, that I knew was going to come up, since it was the only real concern that I had myself. And, I have a feeling that is more of a linguistic issue than anything else, but it is also where we differ somewhat on the reality/logistics of the operation in the Middle East and South Asia, and the whole ‘terror’ thing. It’s always been my primary break with him, (Obama that is) but it isn’t particularly huge. I mean, I do understand where he’s coming from on this terror thing, because most of my own colleagues in academia feel the same way. But, I do disagree with him on the level of danger. Still. What do I know.

OK…gotta get to my friend Fadel.

Thanks again.

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By thebeerdoctor, July 14, 2008 at 11:17 am Link to this comment

Fadel Abdallah, my friend I am sure you aware of the expression “God willing” . I think that is the best I can hope for. I have difficulty with religion because it absorbs and embraces all kinds of dualistic falsehoods. Thus you have supposed men and women of God who call upon the almighty to “smite” their enemies. And this is an equal opportunity employer of stupidity, crossing all religions and their affiliations. So the universal truth of love and brotherhood is abandoned? This, I will never subscribe to. My only prayer is thank you.

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By madison ford, July 14, 2008 at 11:00 am Link to this comment

Unfortunately, we face a twin threat. We seem not to have learned how to walk and chew gum at the same time.

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By Maani, July 14, 2008 at 9:24 am Link to this comment

Although this is obviously a good (if recycled) “speech,” I would have liked to hear him address what he plans to do about the military-compound-cum-“embassy,” which is the size of a small city, and would require a significant military presence to maintain.

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By Fadel Abdallah, July 14, 2008 at 8:19 am Link to this comment

“Nearly every threat we face—from Afghanistan to Al Qaeda to Iran—has grown.”
Here we go again! An aspiring president talking about Afghanistan and Iran as growing threats, must be very naive and misinformed, and almost a mouthpiece for the AIPAC or Israel!

My friend “thebeerdoctor”: The word “Peace” at the end of your short statement is indeed the ultimate value and dream we all aspire to achieve.

Further, I agree that if this candidate is elected, he might end the war in Iraq. However, in light of his being misguided about who are our real enemies, he might start another open conflict with Iran and further complicate the situation in Afghanistan.

What about him saying something factual about the threat Israel poses, to the Middle East, to the interests of America, and to peace at large?! What about him learning something from the world opinion, which according to a survey taken not long time ago, a large majority of the whole world opinion ranked Israel and the US at the top of the two countries which represent the most danger to world peace.

This comment is also addressed to “cyrena’- my friend and one of the most enlightened and informed persons on this blog- who has almost a passionate uncritical attachment to Barack Obama!

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By Louise, July 14, 2008 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

cyrena, regarding boo-boo,

Don’t worry about it. I had that figured out the second I read it. I even thought about posting that (this) when I read it, but didn’t. Wish now I had. smile

As Barrack so succinctly put it:

“It’s not going to work this time. It’s time to end this war.”

Picture it:

RNC call-center. Like most office set-ups, only cheaper. Four people to a pod, with a phone and key-board per person. The job assignment, DISSEMBLE. [It’s the republican way.] All that’s required for the job is the ability to type fast, have a working knowledge of what Democrats believe, and absolutely no personal conviction ... about anything.

Now if four per pod all use the same handle, it’s possible to keep posting at breakneck speed, on every article, almost simultaneously. And truthdig is just one of many sites where these dissemblers do their dirty work.

Because we believe in free speech, we tolerate them. And they know it. Strange, because these people would completely squelch free speech if the boss told them too. I mean after all, we are talking about the RNC.

In fact when you think about it that’s kinda what they do. Create enough anger and confusion to force people that have the sense God gave a caring person, off the web. Don’t let them get away with it. No need to call them names, or even get angry with them. That’s what they want. That gives them the attention they are here to get. Remember, trouble makers never make trouble to improve the world. They make trouble to make trouble. And trouble can lead to anger and actual damage.

They think they are so clever, no-one will see them for what they are. Like when I posted as No. 1) Obama was black. I did that, because I knew exactly what JG’s response would be ... and I was right. [Chuckle.] These folks aren’t clever, you can see through them as clearly as we can see through a hole in the wall.

Like my mother always use to say ... consider the source.

Don’t give them value they don’t deserve. If they don’t get the desired results ... everybody arguing and doubting their personal position, they’ll go away. Or at the very least change their tactics.

We shouldn’t try to change their minds. Because they have no interest in developing a different opinion. Reasoned argument on any legitimate point is not what they are looking for. That’s not what they’re here for.

Remember the swift-boaters. Did anything said or done change their position? Of course not, because honest debate was never what they were all about. They were dissemblers. Troublemakers. Liars and manipulators. Not worth worrying about, other than to keep giving honest people who care, the truth. If the dissemblers reply to your honesty with another attack ... just consider the source.

Like my daughter always says, by their fruits ye shall know them. [she reads the bible a lot]

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By cyrena, July 14, 2008 at 7:03 am Link to this comment

WOW Beerdoc. I’m glad to hear this. I was bracing myself.


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By thebeerdoctor, July 14, 2008 at 7:01 am Link to this comment

Instead of jumping on this, I will only say that if this candidate is elected, he does in fact end this war. Peace.

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By randygrenier, July 14, 2008 at 5:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What is not getting press is that people are making enormous amounts of money from this war.  What are the connections between the profiteers and the policy makers?

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By Rob, July 14, 2008 at 5:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama was not in Congress when votes were taken for or against the war.  His stump speech claim that he was against the war from the beginning is just convenient rhetoric, designed to incite and appease anti-war sentiment. It must sicken Clinton and her supporters to hear Obama now embrace the McCain - Clinton “realistic, phased withdrawal from Iraq” approach to ending U.S. involvement in this war. I can’t understand why anyone would vote for Obama, given his lack of credentials in national politics.  When I found out he was a closet smoker and the media had largely ignored that fact and not focused on it, I looked elsewhere for a candidate.  Anyone with an addiction who hides it from public view is not presidential material.  This man has a spin for denial that would have never been tolerated had he been white.  Hopefully, McCain will get elected, clean up the Republican Iraq mess in his one term, and the DNC will then unite behind Hillary for 2012 like they should have this year.

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