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Washington Post on Bush, Clinton, Obama...

SexyK

Golden Member
Jul 30, 2001
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The Washington Post Ed Board weighed in this morning on the speeches made yesterday by the President and each Democratic candidate regarding the 5th anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. Here's the link.

THE FIFTH anniversary of the invasion of Iraq prompted a flurry of speeches from President Bush and the Democratic candidates who hope to inherit the White House next year. Sadly, what they had in common was their failure to grapple with hard realities -- beginning with the elusiveness of any clear or quick path toward Mr. Bush's promise of "victory," or that of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to "end this war."

Mr. Bush's address dwelt on the success of the initial military campaign of March 2003, then skipped ahead to the "surge" of the last year. The president deservedly claimed credit for launching the latter campaign, which has drastically reduced the level of violence in Iraq. But he went on to claim that, more than turning "the situation in Iraq around," the surge "has opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror." That sounded at best premature, given the tenuousness of the security gains and the slowness of Iraqi leaders to strike political deals that could truly stabilize the country.

The president at least recognizes, from "hard experience," how quickly progress in Iraq can unravel. Yesterday he pledged not to order troop withdrawals beyond the five brigades due to return home by this summer unless "conditions on the ground and the recommendations of our commanders" warrant it. That means that if Mr. Obama or Ms. Clinton become president, he or she will be the commander in chief of at least 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Yet their speeches suggest an understanding of the conflict and the stakes for the United States that is as detached from reality as they accuse Mr. Bush of being when he decided on the invasion.

Barely acknowledging the reduction in violence, the Democratic candidates insist that U.S. troops are, as Ms. Clinton put it, "babysitting a civil war." In fact, the surge forestalled an incipient civil war, and U.S. commanders and diplomats in Iraq don't hesitate to say that if American forces withdrew now, sectarian conflict would probably explode in its full fury, causing bloodshed on a far greater scale than ever before and posing grave threats to U.S. security.

BOTH Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton propose withdrawing U.S. troops at the most rapid pace the Pentagon says is possible -- one brigade a month. In the 16 months or so it would take to remove those forces, they envision the near-miraculous accomplishment of every political goal the Bush administration has aimed at for five years, from the establishment of a stable government to agreement by Iraq's neighbors to support it. They suppose that the knowledge that American forces were leaving would inspire these accords. In fact, it more likely would cause all sides to discount U.S. influence and prepare to violently seize the space left by the departing Americans.

With equal implausibility, the Democratic candidates say they would leave limited U.S. forces behind to prevent al-Qaeda from establishing bases. They assume that an Iraqi government that had just been abandoned by the United States would consent to the continued presence of American forces on its territory. In all, Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama speak as if they have no understanding of Iraqi leaders, whom they propose to treat as willing puppets.

If there was a glimmer of sense in Mr. Obama's speech, it lay in his acknowledgment that "we will have to make tactical adjustments, listening to our commanders on the ground, to ensure that our interests in a stable Iraq are met and to make sure our troops are secure." Ms. Clinton conceded that "the critical question is how we can end this war responsibly" and added "it won't be easy." In fact it will be terribly hard -- and it can't be done responsibly in the way or on the timeline the two Democrats are proposing. We can only hope that, behind their wildly unrealistic campaign rhetoric, the candidates understand that reality.
It's nice to see the mainstream media taking everyone to task for their irresponsible and dangerous promises - on both sides of the aisle. Thoughts?
 

Mursilis

Diamond Member
Mar 11, 2001
7,756
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Originally posted by: SexyK
It's nice to see the mainstream media taking everyone to task for their irresponsible and dangerous promises - on both sides of the aisle. Thoughts?
It'd be even nicer to see voters take the candidates to task for their irresponsible and dangerous promises, but that we won't ever see. Instead, we get the Republicans attempting to buy off voters with tax cuts vs. the Dems attempting to buy off voters with more spending (free healthcare!!), both of which are irresponsible when the treasury is bleeding money.
 

ProfJohn

Lifer
Jul 28, 2006
18,251
5
0
It would be nice if someone would talk about the truth when it comes to Iraq.

Staying in Iraq is to expensive and cost too many lives, but leaving could make things even worse long term.

We are truly damned if we do and damned if we don't.
 

Thump553

Lifer
Jun 2, 2000
11,927
1,259
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My thoughts are that under Obama's stewardship, the politicians in charge in Iraq would realize that they FINALLY have to make the hard political decisions and reach real prospects for peace and progress in that country. I don't have have that they would take Hillary Clinton seriously enough to think she would pull out and leave them high and dry. McCain, of course, will continue the forces indefinately, taking all pressure off the Iraqi leaders.

Personally, I view the surge as a failure to the extent that it was been a clearly blown opportunity. Next to no effort (outside perhaps of Cheney's recent short trip) has been made to push the politicians. Our soldiers have done a tremendous job during this surge, but I'm deeply afraid it will all be for naught.
 

ProfJohn

Lifer
Jul 28, 2006
18,251
5
0
What is it about Obama that makes you think he will be able to do what Bush has not been able to do in 5 years?

Are they just going to wake up and go "oh no Obama is President, we better get our act together"???

More than likely Obama will change his tune over time and do exactly the same thing Bush has been doing.

When Clinton ran from President he made all the same type of promises about how the military will and will not be used and then he turned around and kept the troops in Somalia, sent troops to Hataii and then Bosnia. In other words every President promises to do things different and yet nothing really changes.
 

Mursilis

Diamond Member
Mar 11, 2001
7,756
11
81
Originally posted by: Thump553
My thoughts are that under Obama's stewardship, the politicians in charge in Iraq would realize that they FINALLY have to make the hard political decisions and reach real prospects for peace and progress in that country.
Don't make the mistake of assuming everyone thinks like you do. There are plenty of people in the world (esp. the Middle East) that think compromise is worse than death, and have absolutely no desire for peace on terms they consider unacceptable. If there's one fact that's become obvious about Iraq in the past 5 years, it's that there's no shortage of people in that county willing to die (and take others with them) for what they believe in. NOTHING will change in Iraq under Obama, except MAYBE less American troops getting killed (because there may be less there). Certainly, the political situation will be no better.
 

Ldir

Platinum Member
Jul 23, 2003
2,184
0
0
Originally posted by: ProfJohn
What is it about Obama that makes you think he will be able to do what Bush has not been able to do in 5 years?
Dub wants to be there. Obama does not. That makes all the difference.
 

Rockinacoustic

Platinum Member
Aug 19, 2006
2,460
0
76
Originally posted by: Ldir
Originally posted by: ProfJohn
What is it about Obama that makes you think he will be able to do what Bush has not been able to do in 5 years?
Dub wants to be there. Obama does not. That makes all the difference.
Dub is President, Obama is not.
 

Ldir

Platinum Member
Jul 23, 2003
2,184
0
0
Originally posted by: Rockinacoustic
Originally posted by: Ldir
Originally posted by: ProfJohn
What is it about Obama that makes you think he will be able to do what Bush has not been able to do in 5 years?
Dub wants to be there. Obama does not. That makes all the difference.
Dub is President, Obama is not.
That is why the question is what will Obama be able to do, future tense, that Bush has not been able to do so far.
 

piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
17,168
60
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Ask Hillary is she will resign if all the troops are not out of Iraq in 60 Days???? This was her promise.
 

m1ldslide1

Platinum Member
Feb 20, 2006
2,321
0
0
Originally posted by: ProfJohn
It would be nice if someone would talk about the truth when it comes to Iraq.

Staying in Iraq is to expensive and cost too many lives, but leaving could make things even worse long term.

We are truly damned if we do and damned if we don't.
Maybe if we were to try, convict and punish those responsible for this mess then future executives would be more careful in their actions against the interests of this country. That would be a start in the right direction at least. Deterrents work, right?
 

Fern

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 30, 2003
26,907
173
106
I think it's important to realize that in primary campaigns the candidates move to their base (either left or right), then in the general election move back to the center.

I think both candidates in the gen election will "further define" (euphimism for change) their Iraq plans.

Long ago I predicted that the differences betwen the Repubs and the Dems concerning Iraq would play out to be rather small. I'm still stcking to it.

The rehtoric will be different, to be sure, but not so much actual policy.

If either Hilary or Obama is elected, they wil have the support of the majority of the Dem Congresspersons in managng Iraq to avoid a big cluster-fsck of exploding sectarian voilence that could result from a too-fast withdrawl. Everybody wants to keep their government office.

Fern
 

Thump553

Lifer
Jun 2, 2000
11,927
1,259
126
Originally posted by: piasabird
Ask Hillary is she will resign if all the troops are not out of Iraq in 60 Days???? This was her promise.
Can you give a reference to this? All I have ever heard Hillary say is that, conditions allowing, she will START withdrawing in 60 days.

To answer PJ's question, and to further clarify why I prefer Obama over Hillary in this regard, Obama has made it clear that he is going to pull us out. Not willy nilly, but the powers that be in Iraq will realize with him in power that their days of Uncle Sam protecting their personal butts are now over. That is what will get them to do the political deals necessary.

As far as classifying all MidEasterns as preferring death over compromise, that's simply naive. A more correct general statement would be Iraqis do not make deals until it is absolutely necessary, that they will continue to struggle to get all the advantage they can while there is any wiggle room left. The main problem with Bush and 100 year McCain is that they will give them unlimited wiggle room.
 

nageov3t

Lifer
Feb 18, 2004
42,816
83
91
there is no anti-war candidate, only varying degrees to which they're willing to pander to the left.
 

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