McCain and Obama: Both wrong on Iraq

Leave a Reply

Comment as a guest.

  1. Just read your piece at TMV, and stalked you here, Polimom. (WordPress confounds me, making a TMV comment impossible). Just wanted to tell you that your post is brilliant, spot on. Both candidates have missed the boat at times on Iraq. Before reading your post, I watched MSNBC’s Howard Fineman marveling at Barack’s prescient ability to foresee the next big thing (in this instance, an Afghanistan surge). My reaction was similar to yours- if he had such an ability, why didn’t he support the Iraqi surge? Like most others, Obama missed it- he hardly foresaw its success (But hey, I missed it too. Like most others, I thought Petraeus’surge was too little-too late). Not a single MSNBC panelist took exception with Fineman’s ode to BO.
    I won’t even bother arguing McCain’s misguided support of the incursion in 03.
    Your post speaks of pragmatism. Colin Powell was right in wanting to slow walk the invasion- foreseeing the inevitable Pottery Barn dilemma. Many others foresaw that Rumsfeld’s light footprint occupation was doomed from the beginning.
    No one gets it right all the time- we all make mistakes. But it would be nice to have a president who could size up a failed policy and quickly move to Plan B. GWB’s ultimate move from Rumsfeld to Petraeus was hopelessly slow, costing thousands of lives, billion of dollars, and gobs of political capital.
    It’s my hope that we’ll next elect someone with a Plan B knack. I suspect Obama may have that ability in foreign policy, thought I’m skeptical that this skill extends to domestic policy.
    Anyway, suffice to say that your excellent observations were/are appreciated.

  2. Obama was wrong on the surge on almost every level.
    He not only failed to predict it’s success; in fact, he was confident of it’s futility. His grudging acknowledgement of what has since gone right is still petty and small-minded as he still refers to a vague lack of political progress in Iraq. How this translates into any sort of “knack” wrt foreign policy is laughable in the extreme.
    As regards Afghanistan (aka the “good” war), the difficulties there are largely due to the Pakistani sanctuary and the failure of many European nations to honor their commitments. That the U.S. doesn’t currently possess the excess combat troops required to redeem European bad faith is the real problem.

  3. In fairness, most of us were wrong about the surge. I supported troop build-ups early on in the occupation, but figured that a late surge would be ineffective in the face of Iraq’s civil unraveling. Still, it’s a total misreading to see Obama as a sage or a seer. He didn’t foresee Petraeus’ marvelous come-back nor has he admitted that supporters such as McCain got it right.

  4. kreiz — I’m glad you “stalked” me — welcome! I agree that we really need a president who is able see when situations have changed and say so. That Obama sees the improvements is not enough, imho.
    But bello — I don’t agree that because Obama is reticent about saying he was wrong means he has no knack for foreign policy. I agree with his foreign policy for the most part.
    However, I am concerned about the apparent inability to ever say “I was wrong”.

  5. Which “foreign policy ” are we talking about? Yesterday or today’s?
    Obama was “right” in his initial opposition to the war, not because of any fundamental understanding of our nation’s foreign policy and national security interests, but because his immediate interests (the “small ball” of Illinois politics) dictated that he oppose the war.
    His reticence to honestly acknowledge the success of the surge is informed by similar concerns, the major difference being that he is now playing to a larger audience.
    Wisdom? Judgement? LMAO!

  6. bello, I disagree. While I’m not convinced that Obama took the “enormous political risk” his campaign says, he was not just standing there saying, “No war in Iraq”. He was quite clear about why, exactly, it was a stupid idea.
    His articulation of those problems was correct. He wasn’t just being oppositional.
    But once we went in and the disaster was upon us, it became essential to deal with the mess on our hands. And now that we are coming back out of that very dark tunnel, he’s looking petulant (and/or stubborn).
    As kreiz said above — LOTS of people opposed it. But being wrong about the surge isn’t in and of itself a disqualifier. Stubbornly sticking to the wrong is potentially a real problem.
    My problem with all this is: how do you decide which candidate is more wrong? The one who is stubbornly maintaining that the surge was not the right thing to do, or the one who thinks preemptively invading in the first place was a good foreign policy strategy?

  7. My problem with all this is: how do you decide which candidate is more wrong? The one who is stubbornly maintaining that the surge was not the right thing to do, or the one who thinks preemptively invading in the first place was a good foreign policy strategy?
    Personally I think organized terrorism was set back a decade if not more. That the empire they had built for themselves in countries is gone. I think it was a excellent idea. We just pursued it wrong is all. But then the USA is not exactly skilled at STARTING WARS, only finishing them

  8. “…(H)ow do you decide which candidate is more wrong?”
    Which candidate adapted to changed circumstances and who maintained his alignment with party orthodoxy? Who recognized the need for, the utility of, and had the courage to support the implementation of “Plan B”?

Read Next

Sliding Sidebar