Quite the editorial from the WaPo the other day (emphasis mine):
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has a history of tailoring his public statements for political purposes, made headlines by saying he would support a withdrawal of American forces by 2010. But an Iraqi government statement made clear that Mr. Maliki’s timetable would extend at least seven months beyond Mr. Obama’s. More significant, it would be “a timetable which Iraqis set” — not the Washington-imposed schedule that Mr. Obama has in mind. It would also be conditioned on the readiness of Iraqi forces, the same linkage that Gen. Petraeus seeks. As Mr. Obama put it, Mr. Maliki “wants some flexibility in terms of how that’s carried out.”
Other Iraqi leaders were more directly critical. As Mr. Obama acknowledged, Sunni leaders in Anbar province told him that American troops are essential to maintaining the peace among Iraq’s rival sects and said they were worried about a rapid drawdown.
Charels Krauthammer made the case about a year ago about the importance of Iraq. Yesterday, this Washington Post Editorial joins him.
Yet Mr. Obama’s account of his strategic vision remains eccentric. He insists that Afghanistan is “the central front” for the United States, along with the border areas of Pakistan. But there 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.
I can’t usually stand Couric – but she deserves a great deal of credit here for actually asking the candidates tough questions about the war on terror:
Obama continues to insist that Afghanistan (the good war) is where we should be investing troops. What he doesn’t explain is why that would make any sense.
Also, for some reason he simply has ‘no idea’ what would have happened if the US had followed his advice rather than the surge. I have an idea: Iraq would have become a disastrous bloodbath – which is exactly where it was headed before the surge. In fact – this is exactly why the Iraqis are saying that “American troops are essential to maintaining the peace.” How is this such a tough hypothetical?
I have to give McCain major props here for cutting out all the ‘hypothetical’, ‘too difficult to know’ bullcrap. If you want to hear more of McCain’s statement you can check it out here. I especially appreciate this line, as Obama’s main talking point has been that McCain is basically Bush part 2 and all he wants to do is stay in Iraq:
I know those wars. I know conflicts. And I hate war. No one hates war more than the veteran who feels most plainly the loss of a veteran. And I know how to win wars.
We have succeeded in Iraq. We are winning. We will be making additional withdrawals as everybody acknowledged. We may have an advisory capacity as even Sen. Obama agrees. And we may have security arrangements that are in the interest of both countries. But the fact is victory is being achieved now. A stable society. Secure environment. Functioning government. Functioning legal system. All of the trappings of a nation where people can feel secure in their future in a free and independent nation. And that’s what we’ve succeeded in the strategy which will then mean we are winning the war and bring our troops home.
You can debate whether or not getting into Iraq was a good idea, but in my opinion – that will ultimately be determined by how we get out of Iraq. McCain thinks that victory there is possible, and that it is important not to leave until we reach that point. Obama thinks victory is impossible, and that we should get out ASAP.
We get to decide whose strategy would be best for America this fall.