Just the other day, Dear Husband (DH) was lamenting the paucity of specifics, in either policy or platform, from the presidential candidates thus far.
Via the NY Times, here’s Hillary to his rescue:
WASHINGTON, March 14 — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton foresees a “remaining military as well as political mission” in Iraq, and says that if elected president, she would keep a reduced but significant military force there to fight Al Qaeda, deter Iranian aggression, protect the Kurds and possibly support the Iraqi military.
In a half-hour interview on Tuesday in her Senate office, Mrs. Clinton said the scaled-down American military force that she would maintain in Iraq after taking office would stay off the streets in Baghdad and would no longer try to protect Iraqis from sectarian violence — even if it descended into ethnic cleansing.
In outlining how she would handle Iraq as commander in chief, Mrs. Clinton articulated a more-nuanced position than the one she has provided at her campaign events, where she has backed the goal of “bringing the troops home.”
From where I sit, it’s been obvious (for years, unfortunately) that American troops will be involved and deployed to the Middle East for a very long time to come. Bush cast the die in Iraq, and although it was horribly, terribly, tragically mishandled, we are where we are, and all the posturing and bloviating in the world won’t cleanly, or completely, extract us.
Polimom wishes desperately that the U.S. hadn’t gone down this road, and FWIW, I always thought it was a stupid idea… but that opinion is, frankly, worth nothing.
We did. Wishes ain’t fishes and all that…
So — we are where we are, Hillary has gone on record as to how she’d handle the Iraq situation if she becomes president… and lots of folks are immediately foaming at the mouth.
Some of this reaction is utterly unsurprising. I fully expected the Out of Iraq Now folks to go right off the deep end, for example… and they have. However, there are some other reactions that caught me off-guard.
Ed Morrissey, for instance:
This statement shows a complete lack of strategic and tactical thinking on the part of someone who want to assume the role of Commander in Chief. The key to stabilizing Iraq and beating the terrorists who have nested in Anbar is restoring order to its capital. If the central government falls, the other goals she mentions — deterring Iran, protecting the Kurds, and so on — will go right out the window. If Baghdad falls into utter chaos and ethnic cleansing, the rest of the nation will follow suit in short order, and Anbar will be the least of our problems.
Even though I don’t always (or even often) agree with him, I respect Captain Ed enormously… but it appears that he (and others, also here) are overlooking a crucial factor: Temporal Distance. By the time we’ve sworn in a new president, Baghdad will most likely have either “fallen into utter chaos” (etc.) … or it won’t.
This is one of the problems with a ridiculously premature presidential campaign during a war. Anything a candidate says they’ll do two years from now assumes conditions to be unchanged — and frankly, that’s ludicrous. If order hasn’t been restored in Baghdad by the end of the summer (much less by January 2009), the U.S. will doubtless begin moving troops into positions very much like Hillary has proposed.
Anything a candidate proposes right now is likely to be moot in two years — including this.
As this endless campaign drags on through time, I fully expect to see a number of candidates back themselves into an inextricable corner as they make sweeping, and probably irrelevant, war commitments. People who deliver pronouncements in black and white will not be able to react to conditions as they change — and they will certainly change substantially.
This is why two years is too big a wrinkle in time.