Ran across this one yesterday. It’s always nice to see the positions coming directly from the candidates. As I tend to lean a bit towards this Obama fella, I figured a closer look at his Op-Ed would be worthwhile.
On we go.
Op-Ed Contributor – My Plan for Iraq – Op-Ed – Barack Obama – NYTimes.com
CHICAGO — The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.
Good start. This is exactly the same thing I pointed out last week when al-Maliki made his statement.
Next up is a bit of history surrounding the engagement. Nothing much here but the bottom line.
The differences on Iraq in this campaign are deep. Unlike Senator John McCain, I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president. I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have died and we have spent nearly $1 trillion. Our military is overstretched. Nearly every threat we face — from Afghanistan to Al Qaeda to Iran — has grown.
In the 18 months since President Bush announced the surge, our troops have performed heroically in bringing down the level of violence. New tactics have protected the Iraqi population, and the Sunni tribes have rejected Al Qaeda — greatly weakening its effectiveness.
So we’ve got a bit of momentum, maybe..depending on the way Sadr goes, which seem seems to be quietly at the moment. He then goes on a bit about the current state of Iraqi politics and makes on the most salient semantic points I’ve seen in a while. Note the bold.
Only by redeploying our troops can we press the Iraqis to reach comprehensive political accommodation and achieve a successful transition to Iraqis’ taking responsibility for the security and stability of their country. Instead of seizing the moment and encouraging Iraqis to step up, the Bush administration and Senator McCain are refusing to embrace this transition — despite their previous commitments to respect the will of Iraq’s sovereign government. They call any timetable for the removal of American troops “surrender,” even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government.
A wonderful point here, as we are giving power to a government we put in place, not the insurgents or AQI (obviously). To call this surrender is to embolden the enemy.
He then points out that leaving in a responsible manner is not only desired by the Iraqis, the U.S. and the World, but that it can be done responsibly.
As I’ve said many times, we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 — two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal.
And then with the strong finish, with some excellent rhetoric and a very simple statement (bolded for your pleasure).
In this campaign, there are honest differences over Iraq, and we should discuss them with the thoroughness they deserve. Unlike Senator McCain, I would make it absolutely clear that we seek no presence in Iraq similar to our permanent bases in South Korea, and would redeploy our troops out of Iraq and focus on the broader security challenges that we face. 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.
And so it is.