Is it Withdrawal or is it… Confusion?

17Jul08

Apparently, Barack has so beautifully articulated his Iraq policy that absolutely no one knows what it is. This is the only explanation I can come up with for the fact that I have been ranting all week about how he has now officially abandoned his commitment to the 16 month, unequivocal pullout, while others, much smarter than I, interpret his New York Times op-ed, his speech, and the new website language as meaning the precise opposite.

After hinting earlier this month that he might “refine” his Iraq strategy after visiting the country and listening to commanders, Mr. Obama appears to have decided that sticking to his arbitrary, 16-month timetable is more important than adjusting to the dramatic changes in Iraq.

That’s what the Washington Post wrote in its scathing editorial yesterday morning, as it accused Barack of being inflexible and unwilling to adjust his policy in the face of dramatically changed circumstances as a result of the surge.

Just to recap, here is the position he erased from his website this week:

Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months.

Now, his new position, as articulated in his speech Tuesday.

We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months… After this redeployment, we’ll keep a residual force to perform specific missions in Iraq… We will make tactical adjustments as we implement this strategy – that is what any responsible Commander-in-Chief must do.

The transformation, for me, is absolutely dramatic – from a clear, decisive withdrawal schedule without caveat to a suggestion that “we can” withdraw in 16 months. This sentence doesn’t even make clear that a 16 month withdrawal is part of Barack’s plan – we have to infer this from the later statement, “After this redeployment.” And, that redeployment is now contingent on tactical adjustments. Then, Barack insults himself for having previously held a position without an exception for tactical adjustments, which he says is an imperative for any Commander-in-Chief.

Mr. Obama reiterated yesterday that he would consult with U.S. commanders and the Iraqi government and “make tactical adjustments as we implement this strategy.” However, as Mr. McCain quickly pointed out, he delivered his speech before traveling to Iraq — before his meetings with Gen. David H. Petraeus and the Iraqi leadership. American commanders will probably tell Mr. Obama that from a logistical standpoint, a 16-month withdrawal timetable will be difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill.

But his commitment to consult with commanders and the Iraqi government and make adjustments as needed is the big flip flop!!! How can they skip right over the fact? Is the Post just throwing up it’s hands and saying, “It’s not for us to read between the lines. If we can’t figure out what he’s saying, we’ll assume there’s nothing new?”

The Post concludes:

Whether or not the war was a mistake, Iraq’s future is a vital U.S. security interest. If he is elected president, Mr. Obama sooner or later will have to tailor his Iraq strategy to that reality.

Exactly. That was always the case, but it was never admitted to by Barack until now.

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