Barack Not Anti-War


Does it matter that the anti-war candidate, the darling of the left who outflanked Hillary Clinton because escaping Iraq wasn’t part of her archetypal political structure, has no position on how to end the war? George Packer evaluates Barack’s planless stance in the New Yorker.

In February, 2007, when Barack Obama declared that he was running for President, violence in Iraq had reached apocalyptic levels, and he based his candidacy, in part, on a bold promise to begin a rapid withdrawal of American forces upon taking office.

It seemed safe enough, then, when Barack established his official stance on Iraq, to call for something entirely unrealistic as a way to get out – a steady withdrawal without regard for events on the ground – since he was a long shot candidate who needed the moonbat wing of the party behind him.

But in the year and a half since then two improbable, though not unforeseeable, events have occurred: Obama has won the Democratic nomination, and Iraq, despite myriad crises, has begun to stabilize.

Packer has no doubt that Barack wouldn’t follow his own stated policy on Iraq if he became president – he’s too smart for that.

The question is whether Obama will publicly change course before November. So far, he has offered nothing more concrete than this: “We must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in.”

In other words, Barack has already moved beyond his ‘plan,’ but doesn’t want to tell anyone quite yet.

Last month, the Center for a New American Security, which has become something like Obama’s foreign-policy think tank, released a report that argued against a timetable for withdrawal, regardless of the state of the war, and in favor of “conditional engagement,” declaring, “Under this strategy, the United States would not withdraw its forces based on a firm unilateral schedule. Rather, the time horizon for redeployment would be negotiated with the Iraqi government and nested within a more assertive approach to regional diplomacy… It’s impossible to know if this persuasive document mirrors Obama’s current thinking, but here’s a clue: it was co-written by one of his Iraq advisers, Colin Kahl.

Packer suggests that at some point, Barack should recreate the “candor” of his race speech, and pretend to be adjusting to changed circumstances on Iraq rather than abandoning a policy that was never realistic, just politically expedient.

One can imagine him speaking more honestly on Iraq. If pressed on his timetable for withdrawal, he could say, “That was always a goal, not a blueprint. When circumstances change, I don’t close my eyes—I adapt.”

That’s the game he’ll play. It seems to be his favorite – perhaps because folks seem to fall for it every time. But McCain is training the public to see the Slippery One’s tricks coming.

McCain took his rhetoric up a notch today by saying that Sen. Obama’s word can’t be trusted–noting that the Democrat went back on his pledge to take public financing in the general election.

McCain needs to keep repeating this theme over and over until people start to realize that a third Bush term would be preferable to a first Obama term.

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