Thursday, July 17, 2008


July 17, 2008

As Barack Obama heads to Europe, I expect he will be questioned carefully about his stance on the war in Iraq. Recent news articles have been clear that his position is becoming increasingly nuanced and decreasingly committed to a timetable for withdrawing our troops from Iraq. Other news reports have made clear that condit5ions in Iraq are quite different than one year ago, that violence is ‘down’, that political ‘benchmarks’ are being met and that ‘the surge’ is working as military forces do a good job and soon. The political debate seems to be fundamentally about whether we should be seeking to withdraw or seeking to stay and accomplish some ‘goal’. The good news from Iraq should make it easier, --or at least less morally complicated—to withdraw (my preference), but others are saying that we should stay and meet more ‘benchmarks’. I’m not aware of any situation where the continuing presence of an occupying forced, however friendly and benign they see themselves as being, is ever perceived as good thing for the people of the invaded country in the end. (Even now we are still hearing calls for and end to the British presence in Cypress even though those bases are apparently strategically important for reasons that have little to do with Cypress per se.) There have been pretty cogent proposals floated about our keeping forces nearby (Kuwait and on the gulf itself) that suggest significant withdrawal is not an absurd goal. I hope new leadership will find a way to do what this country has sought clearly in the last round of congressional elections.

1 comment:

Geoff Pope said...

Thank you for this blog Geoffrey. I'm one of the regular readers and very much enjoy it. I comment only to address the statement that Sen. Obama is now less committed to a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. For anyone interested, here's a link to an excellent piece on the website Politifact detailing Obama's prior statements on Iraq., a collaboration of the St. Petersburg Times and the Congressional Quarterly, is devoted to determining the veracity of various political charges. In this instance, it concluded that Sen. Obama has remained consistent on Iraq. Personally, I agree with Politifact's assessment.