Monday, July 14, 2008

Obama grabs Maliki's gift

Breaking: Obama has called for withdrawing removing U.S. combat brigades from Iraq within sixteen months of Jan 2009.

No seriously -- writing in today's New York Times, he has seized on Maliki's call for a timetable for U.S. withdrawal to double down -- to declare victory and get out. That's a double victory cry -- Iraq's government is asserting control, and my call for troop withdrawal is/was the right strategy. Never mind that I was wrong about the surge's prospects for success. He's going to seize on that success; McCain won't. McCain's sword is knocked out of his hand.

It's a brilliant move. A day after the Times reports that the Bush Administration is considering more rapid redeployment of troops out of Iraq, and acknowledging that the U.S. needs to concentrate more forces in Afghanistan (which Obama has emphasized for over a year), Obama in one fell swoop quiets cries that he's shifting strategy on Iraq and cites Administration and U.S. military authorities to support his strategy:
Lt. Gen. James Dubik, the American officer in charge of training Iraq’s security forces, estimates that the Iraqi Army and police will be ready to assume responsibility for security in 2009.

As Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently pointed out, we won’t have sufficient resources to finish the job in Afghanistan until we reduce our commitment to Iraq.
He then firmly rejects McCain's call for a "presence in Iraq similar to our permanent bases in South Korea" (avoiding the inflammatory "100 years" language while nailing McCain on its substance), covers his 16 months pledge by reiterating his age-old pledge to "make tactical adjustments," and details how he'd be "careful getting out" with a series of steps that look a lot more likely to succeed in maintaining stability now than they did even a few weeks ago (though I still doubt he'll be able to withdraw as fast as he claims). Finally, he serves notice that he'll not be swiftboated, repeating what's become a new mantra (emphasis added below):
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.

Related post:
NYT seconds Obama's "Central front in the war on terror"

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