Obama, who based his drive to capture the Democratic nomination on his early and ardent opposition to the war, said earlier this week he might alter his plan to bring combat troops home within 16 months of taking office if conditions on the ground changed.
The comment drew heavy coverage and sharp criticism from some on the left and the right, with Republicans saying it showed he was vacillating on Iraq.
The word they are using is “flip-flop” which, in my opinion, is a bit more than vacillating. However, I think the accusation is inaccurate. I am fairly sure that Mr. Obama has been fairly consistent in his position on Iraq. What he has not been is forthcoming on the details of his position. He has trumpeted loudly his opposition to the Iraq war. And left it at that. Until now, he has not been terribly forthcoming on his plans for Iraq if elected. At least, I haven’t seen any news articles from reliable sources in which Mr. Obama has articulated his plan for Iraq.
I do think that Mr. Obama is being, at best, naive and, more likely, disingenuous. Mr. Obama has missed very few opportunities to remind the public that he opposes the Iraq war. “Out of Iraq in 16 months” has been associated with Mr. Obama for a long time, though I cannot find the original statement. I think that Mr. Obama has been very careful at not talking about Iraq any more than necessary. He reminds the public that he opposes the Iraq war, points out that he has voted against it and moves on to other topics. Mr. Obama has stood by quietly and let people think that he is the candidate to get the US out of the Iraq war. And now he’s playing a mock surprise when he articulates a plan not significantly different from anyone else’s plan and everyone cries foul.
The reality of Iraq is that there is only one way out. To pull US troops out prematurely will not end the war in Iraq. It will simply end US involvement. And whatever happens next will rightfully be laid at our feet. Iraq is now our responsibility. We opened the can, we are responsible for its contents. The only way to end this war, responsibly, deliberately but decisively is to establish a stable, prosperous, and democratic state in Iraq that poses no threat to its neighbors and contributes to the defeat of terrorists.
[posted with ecto]