Everyone waited with bated breath to observe the grilling on tap for General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker by members of the Senate this past week. All three Presidential candidates were in attendance at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing where Petraeus, the commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq and Crocker, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq testified.
While the questioning and comments by Senators McCain and Clinton reflected their respective views, as frequently articulated and micro-analyzed as they are, the comments by Senator Obama warrant additional scrutiny. His comments belie an ignorance and a moral ambivalence that should be alarming to any who have followed the developments in the Fertile Crescent.
Senator Obama began his remarks, â€œWe all have the greatest interest in seeing a successful resolution to Iraq. We all do. And that has to be clearly stated in the record.â€
That may seem innocuous enough, except when added to the context of everything else he said. Success has been carefully defined by the administration to include creation of a stable, self-sufficient government that can eventually handle its own security. Such a precondition to withdrawal would prevent Iraq from declining into a Taliban-like Afghanistan, which was a veritable cesspool of anti-American, and anti-freedom destruction-prone belligerents and malcontents, dedicated to the eradication of anything newer than the 8th century, or anyone not a devout Muslim.
Senator Obama had to state his desire for success in Iraq, even though everything he says indicates he has no desire to see such success. But he had to have it â€œon the recordâ€ nonetheless, qualifying all his subversive comments that were to follow.
He then stated, â€œI continue to believe that the original decision to go into Iraq was a massive strategic blunder (and) that the two problems that you’ve pointed out â€” al Qaeda in Iraq and increased Iranian influence in the region â€” are a direct result of that original decision.â€
Al Qaeda chose to make Iraq a test of their battle-worthiness against the U.S. They lost. Thatâ€™s why they have been fleeing Anbar and Baghdad. If anybody had a sense in 2003 that some of the Wahabbists and former Saddamites would join us to turn on Al Qaeda and rout them, nobody would have believed them. And then to learn this past two weeks that an Iraqi Shia government has turned on Muqtada al-Sadrand those who were being backed by Iran completely contradicts Obamaâ€™s statement.
Then the revelatory line by the Senator. â€œI also think that the surge has reduced violence, and provided breathing room. But that breathing room has not been taken the way we would all like it to be taken. I think that whatâ€™s happened in Basra is an example of Shia vs. Shia jockeying for power that underscores how complicated the political situation is there and how we still have to continue to work vigorously to resolve it. I believe that we are more likely to resolve it, if we are applying increased pressure in a measured way. I think, and this is where we disagree, that applying increased pressure in a measured way includes a timetable for withdrawal.â€
This is an ignorant, or at least poorly conceived moral equivalent statement. Itâ€™s not Shia vs. Shia. Heâ€™s reduced an elected government into just another Iranian backed Shia clique. Itâ€™s not. Rather Iraq has a constitutionally elected government thatâ€™s taking on an illegitimate Shia group militia, and successfully at that. He employs a moral equivalency argument that anytime thereâ€™s violence, all parties are equally culpable. Iraq has a constitutionally elected government that is losing two to three times more security personnel than the U.S. is. Theyâ€™re making the political progress necessary having met 12 of 18 benchmarks, and all Obama et al can do is criticize and attempt to delegitimize them. Theyâ€™re fighting terrorists everyday on their own oil, and theyâ€™re the only ones doing so, except the Israelis, under the auspices of a legitimate constitutional government. Theyâ€™re the only ones who seem willing to take on the Shia led and Iranian backed terrorists, and they get no credit for their success, only criticism from the Senator.
That same erroneous moral equivalency argument is frequently used to question why a rogue, terrorist state like Iran thatâ€™s intent on destroying its neighbors shouldnâ€™t be allowed a nuclear weapons since the U.S., has them. It reveals a moral ineptness and vacuity.
If benchmarks and political progress were used as a standard to determine democratic legitimacy and efficacy, our Congress would score an â€œF,â€ and we should be collectively calling for their withdrawal. Come to think about it, letâ€™s set a withdrawal timetable for our Congress, and set the benchmark for Nov. 2008 for all the Congressmen and Senators to be withdrawn who just â€œdonâ€™t get it.â€
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