I’ve alluded to the Washington’s Post outstanding editorial from yesterday about Barack Obama and Iraq, but it merits more attention than that. I’d like to focus in particular on two points that may not have received sufficient emphasis on this blog and others.
First, Prime Minister Maliki’s statements (which are not fully in line with Obama’s anyway) do not reflect the views of Sunni leaders in Anbar province. As the Post notes (and Obama has acknowledged) these leaders say that American troops are essential to maintaining the peace among Iraq’s rival sects, and that they are worried about a rapid drawdown.
Incidentally, this view badly undercuts Obama’s efforts to minimize the impact of the surge by insisting that the “Sunni awakening” was the key factor. If Sunni leaders still believe that American troops are essential, even after al Qaeda has been routed, then the role of our troops, and of the new strategy associated with the surge, must have played a critical role in sustaining the “awakening” when al Qaeda was running rampant.
Second, the Post brilliantly takes on Obama’s claim that Afghanistan is the “central front” in the battle against terrorism:
[T]here are no known al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, and any additional U.S. forces sent there would not be able to operate in the Pakistani territories where Osama bin Laden is headquartered. While the United States has an interest in preventing the resurgence of the Afghan Taliban, the country’s strategic importance pales beside that of Iraq, which lies at the geopolitical center of the Middle East and contains some of the world’s largest oil reserves. If Mr. Obama’s antiwar stance has blinded him to those realities, that could prove far more debilitating to him as president than any particular timetable.
The Post calls Obama’s position here “eccentric.” I would have said “cynical, ” and the last sentence in the quotation above hints at this, I think. Either way, Obama’s position is misguided and dangerous.
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