Amir Taheri lays out Barack Obama’s sorry record of double-dealing on Iraq:
WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.
According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.
“He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington,” Zebari said in an interview.
This is shocking, although, coming from Obama, not surprising. It’s not just that he has tried, in private, to achieve the exact opposite result from the one he has advocated in public. Worse, Obama has in effect tried to conduct his own foreign policy as a President-in-waiting, thereby undermining the actual foreign policy of the United States:
Obama insisted that Congress should be involved in negotiations on the status of US troops – and that it was in the interests of both sides not to have an agreement negotiated by the Bush administration in its “state of weakness and political confusion.”
For Obama to engage in this kind of politically-motivated backstabbing of the United States government is deeply dishonorable. Moreover, as Taheri notes, Obama has a conflict of interest here: the United States wants our efforts in Iraq to succeed, but Obama wants–needs–for them to fail:
Obama has given Iraqis the impression that he doesn’t want Iraq to appear anything like a success, let alone a victory, for America. The reason? He fears that the perception of US victory there might revive the Bush Doctrine of “pre-emptive” war – that is, removing a threat before it strikes at America.
Despite some usual equivocations on the subject, Obama rejects pre-emption as a legitimate form of self -defense. To be credible, his foreign-policy philosophy requires Iraq to be seen as a failure, a disaster, a quagmire, a pig with lipstick or any of the other apocalyptic adjectives used by the American defeat industry in the past five years.
So, if what Taheri says is right, Obama is carrying out his own foreign policy, in opposition not only to his own stated position on Iraq, but in opposition to the foreign policy of the United States, with a view toward bringing about failure, not success, in Iraq. Nice.
UPDATE: McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann commented on this story:
At this point, it is not yet clear what official American negotiations Senator Obama tried to undermine with Iraqi leaders, but the possibility of such actions is unprecedented. It should be concerning to all that he reportedly urged that the democratically-elected Iraqi government listen to him rather than the US administration in power. If news reports are accurate, this is an egregious act of political interference by a presidential candidate seeking political advantage overseas. Senator Obama needs to reveal what he said to Iraq’s Foreign Minister during their closed door meeting. The charge that he sought to delay the withdrawal of Americans from Iraq raises serious questions about Senator Obama’s judgment and it demands an explanation.
Yesterday, the Obama campaign weighed in:
Obama’s national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said Taheri’s article bore “as much resemblance to the truth as a McCain campaign commercial.”
In fact, Obama had told the Iraqis that they should not rush through a “Strategic Framework Agreement” governing the future of US forces until after President George W. Bush leaves office, she said.
Which I guess must be different from what Taheri said. Somehow.
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