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Friday, April 04, 2008

Obama Adviser Calls for 60,000 to 80,000 Troops To Stay In Iraq Through 2010

Barack Obama has said he would withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office if he were elected president. Previously two of his advisers have made contrary public statements. Today we see another adviser contradicts those statements.
According to Barack Obama's own website, he claims he would have all combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months.

His plan:

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. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.


Recently one of his advisers, Samantha Power, resigned after making a comment where she called Hillary Clinton a "monster". On that same book tour in the United Kingdom though, Ms. Power made another statement as well that received much less media attention.

Those comments expressed disbelief that Obama would be able to carry through with his stated plan, quoted above, and Power said, "He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he’s crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator.

She went on to downplay his commitment to withdraw all combat troops from Iraq within 16 months, saying that plan was a "best case scenario" and further stated, "You can’t make a commitment in March 2008 about what circumstances will be like in January of 2009", then she continues, "He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he’s crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator. He will rely upon a plan – an operational plan – that he pulls together in consultation with people who are on the ground to whom he doesn’t have daily access now, as a result of not being the president. So to think – it would be the height of ideology to sort of say, 'Well, I said it, therefore I’m going to impose it on whatever reality greets me.'"

(In February and March of 2008, Samantha Power began an international book tour to promote her book, Chasing the Flame.)

In the meantime, John McCain made a statement which referred to a possible century-long post-war presence like current missions in Japan and Germany.

In New Hampshire, a Granite State voter started to say that President Bush said we could be in Iraq for 50 years when McCain interrupted, and he said:

"Maybe 100. We’ve been in South Korea, we’ve been in Japan for 60 years. We’ve been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That’d be fine with me as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. Then it’s fine with me. I hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where al Qaeda is training, recruiting, equipping, and motivating people every single day."

Obama has since used that comment to imply that John McCain wants a "hundred year war".

Fact (Scroll down to the section that says "About that 100 year war") says that Obama is twisting the words and John McCain's campaign came out and very bluntly said Barack Obama was being deliberately dishonest as well as showing his inexperience.

John McCain himself has started to address the issue by telling reporters aboard his plane during a flight to the Washington area, "In all due respect he does not understand…the fundamental elements of national security and warfare."

He goes on to add, "It displays a fundamental misunderstanding of history and how we’ve maintained national security, and what we need to do in the future to maintain our security in the face of the transcendent challenge of radical Islamic extremism. And I understand that because he has no experience or background in any of it. (He) either hasn’t read or (doesn’t) understand…the history of this country in warfare, and the way that we secure alliances and secure the peace–and that’s through military government to government agreements that call for United States presence and mutual defense. Not only in that country itself, but also in the region. Our troops in Japan maintain a military presence in Asia. Our troops in Japan and South Korea maintain stability in Asia. The same thing was true after World War II about our troops in Germany."


Gen. Tony Mcpeak is Barack Obama's military adviser, and in an interview with the Oregonian (requires purchase of the archives to access) that was reproduced in full here, McPeak, in 2003, said, "We'll be there a century, hopefully. If it works right." He was referring to Iraq.

(Merrill (Tony) McPeak-Former Chief of Staff of the US. Air Force)

That statement can be waved away, according to some, because it is five years old so it shouldn't count, which brings us to today's news, another adviser and a very interesting confidential paper, produced by another key adviser to Barack Obama's presidential campaign.


The confidential paper that was written by Colin Kahl, an adviser to Barack Obama, was obtained by The New York Sun and which states a recommendation that 60,000 and 80,000 troops be kept in Iraq as of late 2010.

In that report, (PDF file is a draft and not the complete report) produced by the center-left Center for a New American Security, it stresses their recommendation for "conditional engagement" rather than "unconditional engagement", in other words, not the approach we have now, but a different one that isn't all carrots, or all sticks, but a variety of both carrots and sticks.

(Colin Kahl is a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). He is also an assistant professor in the Security Studies Program in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where he teaches international relations, international security, American foreign policy, civil and ethnic conflict, and terrorism.)

Conditional based on progress seen in Iraq.

Too many critics of the war favor a policy of unconditional disengagement from Iraq. Some who take this position believe that nothing America does in Iraq can be of positive and lasting consequence. Others believe political reconciliation is possible—but only if we leave and thereby force the Iraqis to resolve their own diff erences. This strategy ignores the very real contribution American forces are making to preventing a resurgence of civil war in Iraq. It also shares the flaw of the administration’s approach in offering few incentives for Iraq’s leaders to accommodate. If nothing Iraqi leaders do will affect the pace of an American withdrawal or alter the degree of support for the government, why would they take the risks needed to accommodate? In short, a policy of unconditional disengagement is all sticks, and no carrots.

A policy of conditional engagement—a nuanced middle position between “all in” or “all out”—offers a better chance of producing lasting progress in Iraq. Under this strategy, U.S. negotiators would make clear that Iraq and America share a common interest in achieving sustainable stability in Iraq, and that the United States is willing to help support the Iraqi government over the long-term, but only so long as Iraqis move toward political accommodation.

That approach favors neither option that is being talked about from either presidential candidate, nor the plan that is being implemented now in Iraq.

Obama foreign affairs adviser, Susan Rice, makes it clear that the Iraq working group is not the final word for Obama and his campaign and is just one set of opinions from those hired to to advise on policy.

The questions these advisers leave us with though are clear, if Obama's military and policy advisers and experts are all of one opinion and those opinions contradict Obama's own words, even written on his camapign website, then what is the benefit of surrounding himself with experts and advisers, if he doesn't plan to listen to them.

If he does plan to listen to them, then why is he still insisting publicly that having all combat troops out of Iraq within 16 months is a feasible or possible plan?

The only two options to answer those questions are that 1) Obama has no intention of listening to the experts and simply has them for "show", or 2) He is intending to listen to them but understands his far left base would drop him like a hot potato if he acknowledges it and he is deliberately being dishonest to his supporters.

Neither option is attractive in a person that wants to become the president.