Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Arrogance and the Plan for Iraq

In an opinion piece in the July 14th New York Times, Senator Obama lays out what he calls “My Plan for Iraq.” It’s interesting to me that he’s announcing his plans and policies regarding Iraq well in advance of his fact-finding trip to the area of operations to talk to commanders and others actually there. It is just another example of his basic arrogance, at least as it applies to foreign policy and the use of the military. Obviously, Senator Obama doesn’t care what those “on the ground” doing the job think or the assessments they’ve made. Obviously, he doesn’t care to see (with his own eyes) what is actually happening in Iraq. Obviously, he doesn’t care to hear (personally and not filtered through the media or staffers or special interest groups) what our commanders and our Iraqi allies have to say about Iraq. Obviously, he doesn’t care to gather essential facts before making a final judgment. Obviously, he thinks he knows better.

According to his “plan,” Senator Obama would end the war in Iraq. It looks to me like the surge has basically ended the war; with a defeat for Al-Qaeda in Iraq and a victory for the US and our Iraqi allies. By all accounts, the security situation in Iraq continues to improve, despite attempts to weaken it and despite some successful attacks. The Iraqi Army and police forces are taking more and more responsibility for their country’s security, as should happen. In his “plan” Senator Obama reiterates his basic opposition to the strategic decision to implement the surge. He says that the surge has placed too much of a strain on our military and caused the deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan. He claims the cost of the surge was too high, and that Iraq’s leaders didn’t invest in rebuilding their own country and have not reached political accommodations.

Although Senator Obama recognizes that the surge is responsible for bringing down the level of violence in Iraq, he doesn’t credit the surge strategy with success. Instead, he says that we must “redeploy” our troops to “press” the Iraqi government to reach political accommodations and to take responsibility for their own security. I’m not certain how leaving the country before the Iraqi’s are capable of maintaining their security and before the government is stable will force these goals; but apparently Senator Obama believes leaving with the job only partially completed will do so.

Senator Obama calls his strategy one of “ending this war.” He calls for a withdrawal of all but a “residual force” within 16 months. He says that any redeployment would not be a precipitous withdrawal and that he would consult with commanders and the Iraqi government to ensure safe redeployment. He also announces a “diplomatic offensive with every nation in the region” and a commitment of $2 billion to support Iraq’s refugees. What would this do, other than give Al-Qaeda in Iraq and other extremists a timetable for planning and securing attacks on Iraqi and US interests in the region? What would a diplomatic offensive do that hasn’t already been done, particularly with respect to Iran’s meddling in Iraq? What would providing $2 billion to support refugees do, other than spend money that Senator Obama says was wrong to divert from the efforts in Afghanistan? Senator Obama says he doesn’t want permanent bases in Iraq, but also says that he would leave a residual force to perform limited missions. I’m not sure he can have it the same way. Without permanent bases in the region, how would the US respond to Iranian threats and provocations? The need for permanent bases is only partially to help secure Iraqi security. There is also regional stability to consider, but apparently Senator Obama doesn’t think in the long-term or see the big-picture.

In his “plan,” Senator Obama wants to focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan, apparently forgetting that Pakistan is a sovereign nation that hasn’t asked for our help internally, and is purportedly one of our allies in the war on terror. Senator Obama wants to implement a troop surge of at least 2 additional combat brigades in Afghanistan. I agree with the need for additional US forces in Afghanistan, I personally think that a surge-strategy can also work in Afghanistan; but Senator Obama has failed to recognize that many of the problems in Afghanistan stem from NATO’s reluctance to actually fight the war on terror. Senator Obama’s plan would “take” Afghanistan away from NATO, because NATO’s strategy isn’t working. Perhaps that’s the only realistic thing in Senator Obama’s plan.

I see Senator Obama’s tunnel-vision and arrogance about Iraq as just another example of his lack of judgment and leadership. A true leader would get the facts before announcing change. A true leader would think about the ripple effect of any change. A true leader would make a decision based on what’s needed, not based on political expediency.

UPDATE: Check out what IraqPundit has to say about Senator Obama's plan!

UPDATE #2: Over at Hot Air, they also talk about Senator Obama's "Plan." Much of the plan is based on reports that Nouri al-Maliki wants a timetable to get US troops out of Iraq. But according to the BBC, Mr. al-Maliki really doesn't want a timetable for withdrawal, and may not even want a withdrawal at all. It appears that Mr. al-Maliki's office misquoted him. The Iraqi government has tried to clarify the quote, but no one in the mainstream press (or those advising Senator Obama) wants to hear the clarification. The Iraqi National Security Advisor has tried to emphasize that the Iraqi government wants a broad, general "timeline horizons" and that US withdrawal should be tied to the readiness of the Iraqi Army that would be needed to fill the gap.


Grama36 said...

From what I have heard and read Senator Obama is no leader. From listening to him speak he changes from speach to speach depending on the place, time, and polls. What scares me when he talk about pulling out of Iraq at a certin time, If he is president of the United States and we are attack again will he just pull out??
and as far as the Iraq government not meeting certain things I think the Democratic controlled better get its own house in order before throwing stones...
I hope you get the gist of my thoughts since I cannot put them down the way I would like...

John Maszka said...

In the 1950s, in the wake of Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” plan, Pakistan obtained a 125 megawatt heavy-water reactor from Canada. After India’s first atomic test in May 1974, Pakistan immediately sought to catch up by attempting to purchase a reprocessing plant from France. After France declined due to U.S. resistance, Pakistan began to assemble a uranium enrichment plant via materials from the black market and technology smuggled through A.Q. Khan. In 1976 and 1977, two amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act were passed, prohibiting American aid to countries pursuing either reprocessing or enrichment capabilities for nuclear weapons programs.

These two, the Symington and Glenn Amendments, were passed in response to Pakistan’s efforts to achieve nuclear weapons capability; but to little avail. Washington’s cool relations with Islamabad soon improved. During the Reagan administration, the US turned a blind eye to Pakistan’s nuclear weapon’s program. In return for Pakistan’s cooperation and assistance in the mujahideen’s war against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the Reagan administration awarded Pakistan with the third largest economic and military aid package after Israel and Egypt. Despite the Pressler Amendment, which made US aid contingent upon the Reagan administration’s annual confirmation that Pakistan was not pursuing nuclear weapons capability, Reagan’s “laissez-faire” approach to Pakistan’s nuclear program seriously aided the proliferation issues that we face today.

Not only did Pakistan continue to develop its own nuclear weapons program, but A.Q. Khan was instrumental in proliferating nuclear technology to other countries as well. Further, Pakistan’s progress toward nuclear capability led to India’s return to its own pursuit of nuclear weapons, an endeavor it had given up after its initial test in 1974. In 1998, both countries had tested nuclear weapons. A uranium-based nuclear device in Pakistan; and a plutonium-based device in India.

Over the years of America's on again- off again support of Pakistan, Musharraf continues to be skeptical of his American allies. In 2002 he is reported to have told a British official that his “great concern is that one day the United States is going to desert me. They always desert their friends.” Musharraf was referring to Viet Nam, Lebanon, Somalia ... etc., etc., etc.,

Taking the war to Pakistan is perhaps the most foolish thing America can do. Obama is not the first to suggest it, and we already have sufficient evidence of the potentially negative repercussions of such an action. On January 13, 2006, the United States launched a missile strike on the village of Damadola, Pakistan. Rather than kill the targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, the strike instead slaughtered 17 locals. This only served to further weaken the Musharraf government and further destabilize the entire area. In a nuclear state like Pakistan, this was not only unfortunate, it was outright stupid. Pakistan has 160 million Arabs (better than half of the population of the entire Arab world). Pakistan also has the support of China and a nuclear arsenal.

I predict that America’s military action in the Middle East will enter the canons of history alongside Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Holocaust, in kind if not in degree. The Bush administration’s war on terror marks the age in which America has again crossed a line that many argue should never be crossed. Call it preemption, preventive war, the war on terror, or whatever you like; there is a sense that we have again unleashed a force that, like a boom-a-rang, at some point has to come back to us. The Bush administration argues that American military intervention in the Middle East is purely in self-defense. Others argue that it is pure aggression. The consensus is equally as torn over its impact on international terrorism. Is America truly deterring future terrorists with its actions? Or is it, in fact, aiding the recruitment of more terrorists?

The last thing the United States should do at this point and time is to violate yet another state’s sovereignty. Beyond being wrong, it just isn't very smart. We all agree that slavery in this country was wrong; as was the decimation of the Native American populations. We all agree that the Holocaust and several other acts of genocide in the twentieth century were wrong. So when will we finally admit that American military intervention in the Middle East is wrong as well?