Obama: My Plan for Iraq

Obama has been consistent in is realizing that his brand of authenticity rests with his opposition to the continued occupation of Iraq by American forces. His op-ed in the NYT's today continues it for him.

I was sorta reading through it, waiting to see some sort of shift to a more centrist point, and really didn't see it in there over Iraq. Good. I expected that he'd stay with the Mark Warner line of "getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in" that reassures, and not explain what Richardson criticized him on over what "residual troops" means. In that, I share the healthy skepticism of Steve Clemons. But toward the end, I thought this was bold:

As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there. I would not hold our military, our resources and our foreign policy hostage to a misguided desire to maintain permanent bases in Iraq.

On Iraq, that last line is right on the mark, and its the one thing I wanted to hear from him. Of course, there already are bases in Iraq. Obama's touchstone position on Iraq is his "16 months" timetable. That works, and if Democrats can draw McCain into debating the presence of the military as "permanent" or not, we'll be on good footing.


Obama is seriously misguided about what we need in Afghanistan, its more roads, not troops, that will serve the purpose of opening up Afghanistan. The last thing we need is more US military in Afghanistan. Why in the world would Obama want to diminish the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan by making it more US-based?

Juan Cole's blog post on the topic is right on the money, in regards to mostly agreeing with Obama, but finding that his 'residual forces' solution Iraq is probably a non-starter, and that Obama's plan for 10,000 more troops in Afghanistan is historically uninformed.

I suppose, if I were to garner into the territory that Obama deems as cynical, I would see Obama's moves of wanting to maintain a presence in Iraq, and play a bit of a 'tough-guy-in-someplace-other-than-Iraq' role by choosing to ramp up 'search and destroy missions' in Afghanistan as a way to bolster his defense against "false charges about flip-flops and surrender" from the Republicans. Cole has those same 'dangerous and cynical' thoughts about Obama:

I don't know whether Senator Obama really wants to try to militarily occupy Afghanistan even more than is now being attempted. I wish he would talk to some old Russian officers who were there in the 1980s first. Of course, it may be that this announced strategy is political and for the purposes of having something to say when McCain accuses him of surrendering in Iraq.


Well, Cole might be wrong about Obama being captive to his own words, as FISA well enough showed. Afghanistan?

Afghan tribes are fractious. They feud. Their territory is vast and rugged, and they know it like the back of their hands. Afghans are Jeffersonians in the sense that they want a light touch from the central government, and heavy handedness drives them into rebellion. Stand up Karzai's army and air force and give him some billions to bribe the tribal chiefs, and let him apply carrot and stick himself. We need to get out of there. "Al-Qaeda" was always Bin Laden's hype. He wanted to get us on the ground there so that the Mujahideen could bleed us the way they did the Soviets. It is a trap.

Didn't Obama just watch Dan Rather in the 1980's reporting from Afghanistan (great movie)? Just finish building the road, make sure it remains open, and stay the hell out of ramping up there.


But one thing this op-ed by Obama does show, is that Obama sure does know how to frame a position that's going to get him attacked from the right, by making sure he also gets something in there that the left will also attack him for-- what's that called? Which group invented that term?

I have to come back to asking who in the Democratic world is telling Obama to diminish NATO in Afghanistan by adding "at least two additional combat brigades" and "more helicopters" -- nearly making it to seem another US occupation? Is that Sam Nunn? I'll have to opt for the cynical translation of this, instead of believing that Obama actually thinks he'll lead the Democratic Party into a deeper US military entrenchment of Afghanistan.


If the Afghanistan gambit is sincere, I don't think it is good geostrategy. Afghanistan is far more unwinnable even than Iraq. If playing it up is politics, then it is dangerous politics. Presidents can become captive of their own record and end up having to commit to things because they made strong representations about them to the public.

Tags: Barack Obama (all tags)



Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

How does adding more US troops diminish others? I agree that long term, no one on our side thinks escalating is a permanent move, but to build those roads you mention, you do need to be able to secure vast swaths of contruction are to maintain security. Plus we still do need to get the head's of the organizations in order for this undertaken to be labelled a success. I still think his plan is more about shifting some resources to Iraq as a whole, not just troops. But thank you for the analysis from another school of thought with no digs, much appreciated and well thought out analysis.

by Dog Chains 2008-07-14 07:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

wow, I need an editor or delete comment button, to Afghanastan, not to Iraq and delte that are in the first sentence, sorry about that, makes for a difficult read.

by Dog Chains 2008-07-14 07:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

Your point is well taken.  With all due respect to him, Jerome isn't getting it:

Obama is seriously misguided about what we need in Afghanistan, its more roads, not troops, that will serve the purpose of opening up Afghanistan.

This is a country in which 41 were killed in a bomb blast in Kabul (not some remote village) at the Indian embassy.

Just finish building the road, make sure it remains open, and stay the hell out of ramping up there.

From Jerome's own link this is the kind of environment exists for "just building the road":

On April 9th, two remote controlled improvised explosive devices (RCIED's) exploded in the vicinity of Highway 1 on the east side of Kandahar City, near the US Protection & Investigations (USPI) office. As people gathered around the scene of the first explosion, a second RCIED was remotely detonated.

Remoter parts of Afghanistan have serious security problems.  NGOs could help a lot more with rebuilding Afghanistan if there is better security.  But over a dozen NGO workers have been abducted and killed in the last 6 months.  Their activities are restricted.

Some measure of security is obviously needed to continue to deliver aid and continue rebuilding infrastructure.  

Trying to extrapolate Obama's ideas about rebuilding Afghanistan infrastructure from an article primarily about Iraq and military deployments is poor foundation for a diary.

by Satya 2008-07-14 08:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

We don't put 10000+ soldiers on the ground and helicopters in the air to build roads, that's a NATO driven exercise that we need to back.

If you think that type of military exercise is about "rebuilding Afghanistan infrastructure" you are sadly misguided.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-14 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

And how to we back that? Isn't all of Afghanastan a NATO operation, meaning any additional troops we send be mixed into the NATO coalition already there? Sorry if my next line sounds whiny, but seriously, half the people say he is too much of a dove, you're accussing him of being too hawkish, does that mean he's rigt in the middle?

by Dog Chains 2008-07-14 09:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

No, all of it is not a NATO operation. It's about half and half right now:

There are currently 36,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan, including 17,500 serving with the NATO-led coalition and another 18,500 conducting training and counterinsurgency.
Regardless of where he is, deepening into Afghanistan would be a huge mistake.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-14 10:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

I don't quite get your point here.  But as I hinted in my last line, I think it is unproductive of us to make guesses about what kind of rebuilding plans an Obama administration would have for Afghanistan based on a short Op Ed focused primarily on Iraq and military deployments.  (Although I was glad to see him mention support for Iraqi refugees again, weren't you?)

My point is that any improvement in overall security of the country will provide a better opportunity for aid agencies (protected by their security forces) to continue to rebuild the country.  That includes roads.  Roads can't be built if they continue to be bombed or if critical points are sabotaged.  An improvement will also help NGOs enormously.  

But I expect aid to Afghanistan will get an overhaul by Obama as well (levels and deployment).  Furthermore I feel strongly given the bad press by some of the private security companies in Afghanistan that there is a decent chance that US troops may take on some missions formerly privatized.

If you want to assert that additional US troops in Afghanistan will not improve security of the country then that is fine with me.  I agree to disagree.

FWIW, Cole's nervousness about whether the US has learned from the Soviet experience is valid.  But damn near anyone who begins to get familiar with Afghanistan has the same reaction.  This is well known and I believe a Dem administration will keep that carefully in mind.

The key and challenge for that in my opinion is while it is easy to say that the Pashtun are tribal societies, hardly any of us in the West really understand what that fully means.

What I think is interesting historically is that the "Russians" as part of the Great Game in the 19th century with Great Britain, should have known better from their own history.  And they should also have learned from the Brits.

by Satya 2008-07-14 09:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

Jerome,  I see your point more clearly from another comment of yours.  Sure, NATO "should be" doing the job and not just more US troops.  I agree with that completely.  But given the resistance like this  "should be" doesn't have chance of becoming "will be".

What I do know is the clock is ticking and we need Afghanistan stabilized sooner and not later.

by Satya 2008-07-14 10:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

My guess is that Bush & McCain take Obama's commitment and move on it much before Obama would-- Obama's basically said "yea, lets go in" and now, bush and McCain will act on that, and maybe more.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-14 10:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

Anything could happen with those two, but I'm "hoping" that their obsession with Iraq will prevent it for now.

By the way, Obama has spoken out for rebuilding Afghanistan infrastructure before:

A stepped up military commitment must be backed by a long-term investment in the Afghan people. We will start with an additional $1 billion in non military assistance each year - aid that is focused on reaching ordinary Afghans. We need to improve daily life by supporting education, basic infrastructure and human services. We have to counter the opium trade by supporting alternative livelihoods for Afghan farmers. And we must call on more support from friends and allies, and better coordination under a strong international coordinator.

http://dean2004.blogspot.com/2008/03/oba ma-policy-towards-pakistan-and.html

by Satya 2008-07-14 04:34PM | 0 recs
I guess even good bloggers have bad days

Jerome is an excellent writer, yet I was disapointed by this diary for it lacks the requisite logical backbone to form an argument.

Sen. Obama, like me, supports shifting our military focus to Afghanistan. But Jerome makes a mathematical fallacy by aserting that decreases foreign military presence. Jerome confuses percentage with absolute values.

Yes, increasing the US military presence in Afghanistan by default decreases the percentage of foreign military present, but it does not change the absolute number of foreign troops.

Moreover, I ask Jerome for evidence that NATO or the UN would never increase (or decrease) their numbers. I have seen no such indication, and even though the argument fails on a mathematical fallacy, unless proof is offered, it may also fail on an unwarranted assumption.

Moreover, I ask Jerome for proof that Afghanistan needs more roads and infrastructure. Again, without such proof, the argument of an Obama triangulation cannot succeed in the face of such an unwarranted assumption. Where is the attack from the left?

I am a great fan of Jerome's writing style, but amidst the rushing to judgment and logical leaps I detect a tone of bitterness which I find very off-putting.

by iohs2008 2008-07-14 09:00AM | 0 recs
Re: I guess even good bloggers have bad days

Actually, its NATO that is not performing up to duty, and where the leadership would need to come in. NATO has already decreased upon its commitment. I don't see that as an excuse for the US to deepen its involvement, but a need for us to prod NATO into delivering.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-14 09:24AM | 0 recs
Stop and read before jumping

He specifically said "more nonmilitary resources," hmmm, what could that mean? roads? wow!

In order to get anything built and stay open, there needs to be a security presence. I don't think we want to take over the country like the USSR essentially did.

This is a strong editorial that shows he understand the folly of Iraq, as he always has, and shows he is prepared to use our force to make sure we accomplish other goals.

Maybe you can spend the rest of the week harping on little points where you don't agree with Obama, instead of shouting at the rafters about the idociy of McBush.

Now the media can write about how the left doesn't like his stance on Afghanistan, instead of how McCain doesn't seem to remember it exists. Nice work.

by PHDinNYC4Kerry 2008-07-14 07:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Stop and read before jumping

Ah, that would be "nonmilitary assistance"... maybe you can spend the rest of your day figuring out how the military is involved with that part then...

As for "how the left doesn't like his stance on Afghanistan,"

Look, its Obama that's framed it as such, he gets exactly what he wants out it by doing so too. You may not like it, but that's what it is... "the left" hardly that small, unless you can point out to me who in even the Democratic Party is clamoring for us to send 10000 troops "at least" into Afghanistan?

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-14 07:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Stop and read before jumping

"Ah, that would be "nonmilitary assistance"... maybe you can spend the rest of your day figuring out how the military is involved with that part then..."

Army core of engineers would seem like one obvious answer.  The military has engaged in quite a bit of nontraditional military work in Iraq and elsewhere.  This doesn't strike me as a stretch...

by HSTruman 2008-07-14 07:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Stop and read before jumping

The Army core of engineers is already there in Afghanistan.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-14 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Stop and read before jumping

Right, and they could be there in larger numbers, couldn't they?  And with additional security around them to speed up their work.  Wouldn't both actions further what you identified as the most pressing need?

Look, I'm agnostic on whether additional resources in Afghanistan makes sense.  I have no expertise in this area at all.  But I don't really understand your argument against additional resources anymore than I understand why you feel compelled to only write negatively about Obama.  Maybe it makes sense, maybe it doesn't, but this post didn't really clarify that for me at all.  Instead, it just comes across as another shot against a nominee you really dislike for reasons that have never been particularly clear to me.  

As an aside, I would also add that your analogy to the USSR invasion strikes me as rather inapt absent some significantly more detailed explanation on your part.  

by HSTruman 2008-07-14 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Stop and read before jumping

As for USSR, Cole made the analogy, but I think his point, especially regarding the historical ignorance of pushing for more helicopters in the country, is right on. That would most certainly turn the nation against us.

Building the roads is a non-military activity. Obama is just another politician to me, nothing more. He happens to be the nominee, so his positions do matter.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-14 08:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Stop and read before jumping

As Obama proved in 2002, he isn't obsessed with 'framing' when it comes to geopolitics. He's obsessed with getting it right, and protecting the interest of the US and its allies and - contrary to a previous poster - preserving international institutions like NATO and the UN.

The US left is incredibly contradictory on this score. The Chomskians will never support any US military intervention as far as I can see, whereas the liberal interventionists, so right about Bosnia and Kosovo, have blown their credentials over Iraq.

One of the curses of US foreign policy is that it is regularly hijacked by domestic positioning around presidential or mid term elections. We all know that one of the reason why the Iraq invasion couldn't wait for more UN inspections in 2003 was the run up to the 2004 GE.

This issue isn't just about spin, framing, or another 'drift to the center' for short term political gain. Obama's right about Afghanistan. And unlike Iraq, most Afghanis want MORE aid and security from NATO

by duende 2008-07-14 07:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Stop and read before jumping

"And unlike Iraq, most Afghanis want MORE aid and security from NATO."

Yea, that's right, but anyone who advocates that Afghani's want more US troops and, especially, more US helicopters, is seriously uninformed.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-14 07:58AM | 0 recs
Whose troops & helicopters should we use then?

It isn't a matter or want, it is a matter of need.  More troops and helicopters are needed for security in Afghanistan.  NATO isn't coming up with more troops and it is unlikely that India, Brazil or China are going to offer more troops and/or helicopters.   Therefore the US has to do it.  

If you have some peaceful way of fixing the problems of Afghanistan then let's here them.  You can't build roads without security.  You can't have security without more troops and helicopters.  

by Blue Neponset 2008-07-14 08:05AM | 0 recs

Exactly. Why do you think the Brits in Helmand have expended more ammo than in all conflicts since Korea?

Defending a dam. Simple as that. The Taliban bomb women's schools, sabotage roads and facilities. They want to bomb Afghanistan back into the stone age. Why? They like the stone age (minus Buddha stone carvings of course).

Kabul is amazing. The city has quadrupled in size since 2001. Millions of emigres have returned since the Taliban were ousted. Despite continuing problems - a suicide bomb and nine dead US service personnel this weekend - Afghanistan has actually benefited from the US/NATO invasion according to Afghanis, voting in opinion polls, and voting with their feet.

Obama is right that one of the great tragedies of Iraq was that it drew attention and firepower away from Afghanistan.

by duende 2008-07-14 08:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Whose troops

"Therefore the US has to do it."

Sounds just like what Bushies said about the US going into Iraq unilaterally in 2003 too.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-14 09:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Whose troops

What, is this your version of Godwin's Law? When anything gets too tough, say it's "just like Bush", no matter how inane the comparison?

by Metrobot 2008-07-14 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Whose troops

How about "sounds like LBJ", to paraphrase Juan Cole. Does that work better for you?

by souvarine 2008-07-14 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Whose troops

it's a bit better. But only if it's not meant to simply dismiss someone's counter argument without addressing it.

by Metrobot 2008-07-14 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Whose troops

I am open to alternatives.  I notice you didn't mention any.  

by Blue Neponset 2008-07-14 10:34AM | 0 recs
To be seriously informed

More troops on the ground would actually lead to fewer poorly targeted air strikes. Most the civilian deaths in Afghanistan are due to an overeliance on air power because of troop shortages.

by duende 2008-07-14 08:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

My touchstone for understanding Obama's foreign policy is Shaun Appleby's diary about Obama's American Exceptionalism. Obama does not have much confidence in international institutions like the UN or NATO. He will not have the patience to work through issues with international partners when he, as president, can just use America's immense power to do what he thinks is right. Even his position that he will talk with adversaries shows this, he says he will talk with them, and if they won't come around to his way of seeing things then they will face the consequences. We can see hints of this approach in how he is restructuring the Democratic political apparatus to serve him directly, rather than negotiate with the various interests that make up the party as a whole.

by souvarine 2008-07-14 07:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

Weird how you're distorting a very flattering piece about Obama, did you think we would not read it?

by Dog Chains 2008-07-14 07:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

I try to get as many people as possible to read it. Shaun is one of the most perceptive and clear-eyed Obama supporters here. I disagree with Shaun on the implications of Obama's approach, I see a serious down-side, but I think Shaun accurately captures what Obama is thinking.

by souvarine 2008-07-14 07:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

he is a spokesman I could only hope to be:)

by Dog Chains 2008-07-14 07:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

I should also point out Shaun's diary provides an explanation of why Obama would want to diminish the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, which is why I bring it up.

by souvarine 2008-07-14 07:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

I agree with you in principle on the diary, but the way I read your quote, which I may misintepret, seems in direct contrast to the point of the diary.

Such as: Still, Obama stands by the universality of the American proposition: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness under a constitutional government of limited powers. "I believe in American exceptionalism," he told me, but not one based on "our military prowess or our economic dominance." Rather, he insisted, "our exceptionalism must be based on our Constitution, our principles, our values and our ideals. We are at our best when we are speaking in a voice that captures the aspirations of people across the globe.".

my interpretation of the meaning seems to more follow a more close working relationship with the world around us, which sems to jive more with his repeated insistence that we must return to the international table.

by Dog Chains 2008-07-14 07:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

Also, souvarine's interpretations seems way off base, given Obama's explicit call for restraint in the article discussed in Shaun's diary.

"We can and should lead the world, but we have to apply wisdom and judgment. Part of our capacity to lead is linked to our capacity to show restraint."

by DPW 2008-07-14 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

What part of Shaun's diary offers such an "explanation"? I just read it again and don't see what you could possibly be referring to.

by DPW 2008-07-14 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

I don't think that is a fair conclusion, though it is in keeping with the cogent case against exceptionalism you made originally.  I still think you are confounding exceptionalism with unilateral intervention, which is only one of several possible directions in which exceptionalism might lead us, and one that Senator Obama has only rarely suggested, most notably in regard to the Al-Qaeda presence in Pakistan.  As I said in the first instance:

American exceptionalism has had proponents among those who assert supernaturalist, genetic or environmental justifications, not to mention military and economic ones, as we have recently seen.  It means simply that the United States has some quality which sets it apart from the typical evolution of post-monarchial or post-colonial nations and I believe that is true.  Where you take it and what you base it on is up to the practitioner.

It seems you are thinking of exceptionalism in the sense of military and economic power, which has been the fashion recently.  I don't believe that is what Obama has in mind, though I am gratified to hear him occasionally address shortfalls in our military and intelligence infrastructure.

Exceptionalism seems to me a valid, and arguably 'populist,' approach to re-enlisting the US electorate in a necessary shift in our foreign policy which doesn't fall into the historical trap of US isolationism as we are sometimes inclined to do when things get messy overseas.  What seems to be happening here is we are having the fundamental argument between 'realism' and 'liberal internationalism.'

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-14 12:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

While I am not happy with some of his more "conservative" positions, I have decided to forgo a 3rd party and vote for him (as has my family).  He's sure about a billion times better than another day of Republicans running anything.

by scytherius 2008-07-14 07:30AM | 0 recs
Osama Bin Laden

Somebody has to get Osama Bin Laden.

He's still out there remember? I was in NYC on 9/11 and I assure you that nobody will complain about an increased military presence in Afghanistan.

I agree that he framed it the right way and making Afghanistan our #1 priority is a smart way to bait McCain in a debate.

As for the roads, as PHDinNYC4Kerry pointed out, "more nonmilitary resources" makes it obvious he's not only thinking about "fighting the enemy" but is also talking about "helping" another country.

by spacemanspiff 2008-07-14 07:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Osama Bin Laden

I have a good feeling we will see Obama pounce on America's love affair with military aggression if he focuses just on Al Qaeda.

He really could just base his whole stake on National Security at destroying the REAL Al Qaeda network, not the one Dick Cheney invented in his head (ie AQ in Iraq).

With all the saber rattling at the Iraq and Iranian governments by McCain he dilutes any credibility he has at fighting the only 'entity' that is at 'war' with us.

When Obama states his plans to end the cycle of Terrorism people listen and are paying attention.
Third-termer John McCain will be just seen at stumblin n' fumblin the same Bush talking points.

by DemsLandslide2008 2008-07-14 07:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

You're forgetting the geopolitics here, Jerome

Stabilising Afghanistan, through civilian and military measures, is in fact MUCH more important than Iraq.


Because, as most Nato member countries recognise, a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan will lead to it being re-exported (as is now happening) over the Pakistani border.

A unstable or fundamentalist Pakistan, with over a hundred nuclear warheads, is a much bigger potential threat to global peace than Iran.

Partisan preferences aside, as a Brit with many compatriots whose parents were born in Pakistan, think that Obama is thinking strategically here.

Good for him

by duende 2008-07-14 07:37AM | 0 recs

Let's not do what Bush did and forget about Bin Laden. Building another road won't capture him. I wonder what Jerome would have said if Hillary proposed the same.

by RandyMI 2008-07-14 07:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Umm

gmab, I couldn't care less what Clinton's position is on it. Look, it was Clinton or Obama, not much of a choice, and I chose the one most electable, which isn't saying much.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-14 07:48AM | 0 recs
NATO has diminished itself in Afghanistan

Major nations are refusing to send in troops unless they are sent to the most peaceful regions; the largest contributors are complaining that others aren't picking up the slack; each nation has different agendas - some are willing to go after terrorists and others want to focus only on development. The idea that introducing thousands of new US troops is going to weaken an already weakened NATO is ridiculous. Jerome, please stick to your analysis on domestic politics - you're actually very good at that. The rest - not so much.

by highgrade 2008-07-14 07:49AM | 0 recs
Re: NATO has diminished itself in Afghanistan

That's the point, why doesn't Obama get NATO to get its commitment stronger instead of making it more of a US-based military adventure?

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-14 07:54AM | 0 recs
Re: NATO has diminished itself in Afghanistan

If the people of France, Canada, or the UK do not want to increase their commitment to Afghanistan, there is very little that a President Obama can do about it. Secondly, let's just be honest and admit that the US has always pulled most of the weight in NATO. It has been that way in the past and it will continue to do so in the future.

by highgrade 2008-07-14 10:55AM | 0 recs
I won't pretend to know what to do....

about Afghanistan, but it sounds like a change of course is needed there.  

by magster 2008-07-14 07:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

Hey look, a Clinton-themed ding on Obama by Jerome Armstrong.

That aside, and it should have been put far aside, as in not in your piece, I don't buy the "diminish NATO" or as some kind of get-tough-triangulation in Obama's calls for a greater presence in Afghanistan. It's merely EXACTLY what we should be doing, should have done, should keep doing and any other verb tenses I might be leaving out.

NATO isn't cutting it at this point. 9 lives the other day is 9 too many, and 9 more than would have been lost this weekend had we not looked away from the real battle to fight Bush/McCain's vanity project in Iraq. No discussion of Iraq should take place without a reminder of the mess Afghanistan remains thanks to Bush.

That's the issue. That's what this discussion should center on. Enough with the Clinton wah wah drama, Jerome. It's over.

by Lettuce 2008-07-14 08:26AM | 0 recs

is just a fancy word for electoral politics at the national level.

by Thaddeus 2008-07-14 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Triangulation

Nuh uh. Clinton and his team invented it. They also invented speaking from a podium, talking to an audience and using words and symbols to make their point.

And that 'pointing with the thumb a'top the fist' thing.

by Lettuce 2008-07-14 08:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Triangulation

Using words and symbols to make their point and speaking from a podium.

Yup, they invented all of that, all right!!

by Thaddeus 2008-07-16 06:10PM | 0 recs
Wait, what...?

"I was sorta reading through it, waiting to see some sort of shift to a more centrist point..."

You were what?

So... you were intentionally reading the article so you could find something to criticize. And, surprise!, you found something.

I'm sorry, but that is ridiculous. You just admitted in the first sentence of the second paragraph that you have no desire to be fair when it comes to Barack Obama.

Herein lies the reason my visits to MyDD have gone from several times a day to a couple times a week. I'm disappointed in you, Jerome. Fairness used to be your strong suit.

by not Brit 2008-07-14 08:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Wait, what...?

Once you start believing that 'triangulation' is a Clinton invention -- and that maintaining a foriegn policy stance that's been remarkable consistant from the Democratic Party since the days when only fools entertained the notion of moving soldiers from Afganistan to some vanity venture in Iraq would count as 'triangulation' -- well, then anything's possible.

by Lettuce 2008-07-14 08:45AM | 0 recs
Just a minor quibble

I'll have to opt for the cynical translation of this, instead of believing that Obama actually thinks he'll lead the Democratic Party into a more deeper US military entrenchment of Afghanistan.

While I personally find your analysis of the Afghanistan situation to be a little insulting, it's no more or less than I expected from post-primary Jerome Armstrong.  What really bothers me is the above grammatical error.  "More deeper" is something I learned not to write in grade school.

C'mon Jerome; I know it's the internet and everything, but help me out here.

by Dracomicron 2008-07-14 08:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Just a minor quibble

"Post primary Jerome"

Yup.  Post-primary Jerome is not the pre-primary Jerome, which has been a big loss to mydd.com

by deepee 2008-07-14 09:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Just a minor quibble

A couple of days ago he attacked Obama for not doing the "politically correct" thing by supporting increased oil drilling.

Now he attacks him for doing what is clearly the "politically correct" thing in supporting more troops for Afghanistan.

Anything to attack the Democratic nominee?

by Beren 2008-07-14 10:29AM | 0 recs
by Beren 2008-07-14 10:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama is seriously misguided?

You forgot that Bush and McCain and the Pentagon want more troops there too.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-14 10:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama is seriously misguided?

Bush and McSame also wants more oil drilling -- which you're all for.

by Beren 2008-07-14 11:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama is seriously misguided?

Uh, you are mistaken. I don't think that will happen, but you can stick to that belief, and yourself, are you filling up your tank or living by your "principle"? Fact is, we need oil in the short and mid term to get out of this mess.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-14 01:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama is seriously misguided?

McSame himself has admitted that drilling won't produce more oil or lower orices in the short or mid term and that the whole thing is about "psychological impact".

A couple of days ago you said it was about the polls. Now you say it's about filling up my tank. What will the next canard be?

Instead of giving oil companies another blank check to exploit our resources, rape our environment, and gouge us in the end, why don't you get behind new technology that can render oil all but obsolete?

by Beren 2008-07-14 02:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

I could not be happier with Obama's decision to draw a contrast with McCain on the specific issue of permanent bases.  It's a winner on both policy and political grounds, and McCain is absolutely wedded to his stance (which is, by the way, to the right of where the Bush Administration is publicly) as a result of the "100 years" statement.  I hope Obama will keep hammering this one from now until November.

On Afghanistan, I'm glad to see Jerome doing something I've been wanting more of, which is an actual policy debate on the subject.  Too often it seems like discussion is driven solely by the sentiment that Afghanistan was a good war and Iraq was a bad war, so our troops should be in Afghanistan.  But the past is the past, and the question is whether additional troops at this point in time will advance our national interest.  I think more debate on these terms is required.

by Steve M 2008-07-14 10:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

I totally agree.  The debate on Afghanistan is stalled in the 'good war'/'bad war' narrative and our mission in Afghanistan has become muddled beyond the simplistic objectives of our original intervention.  I have thought a few times about writing on this subject, particularly the implications of our relationship with Pakistan in light of the militant Pashtun resurgence in recent months, both in the border regions and within Pakistan itself, but there seems little interest on the subject in the face of the domestic political trivia of an election campaign.

My concern is twofold, in the first place our mission in Afghanistan has lost all coherence and our relationship with our NATO allies has become strained as a consequence.  Furthermore we seem ill-equipped to perform the kind of mission which is called for, as recently as April the British had asked us to cease certain air and covert ground operations in their regions because we were actually hindering their 'hearts-and-minds' strategy with ham-fisted 'collateral damage.'  Public criticism of our actions by senior British military commanders could only have come with the sanction of their civilian leadership.

Secondly this theatre of operations is increasingly bound by the worsening situation in Pakistan, which remains the centre of gravity of Sunni jihadist militancy in Western Asia.  We have so clearly failed to address the situation there that I am tempted to agree that no military or political solution in Afghanistan is sustainable in the short term without a remedy to the ambivalence of Pakistan's military leadership to the militant fundamentalist movement within their own borders.

The irony is that Iran, as India, is one of our strongest potential geopolitical partners in stabilising this region, as was evidenced by their tacit co-operation in our initial military intervention in Afghanistan.  We have squandered much political capital in the region for the sake of domestic political posturing in recent years and the trend will take a considerable time to reverse.  In the meantime an attitude of benign neglect will surely fail which is my primary reason for supporting Senator Obama's emphasis on the need to reallocate resources to the region.

We have an onerous but inevitable task ahead of us if we indeed seek to unravel the Gordian knot of Islamic militancy which led to the attacks on our nation in 2001.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-14 12:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

I have thought a few times about writing on this subject, particularly the implications of our relationship with Pakistan in light of the militant Pashtun resurgence in recent months, both in the border regions and within Pakistan itself, but there seems little interest on the subject in the face of the domestic political trivia of an election campaign.

Why not post it at OMS then instead?  I'm sure there are one or two folks that would give you a good discussion without the background noise one often finds at mydd.

- jlarson (OMS)

by Satya 2008-07-14 03:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

Sold, give me a few days, this issue isn't going anywhere.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-14 04:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq


by Satya 2008-07-14 04:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: My Plan for Iraq

Afghanistan and Iraq are two completely kettles of fish and one of the reasons the Bush administration deserves to be thoroughly damned is that invading Iraq beggared the resources that could have been used Afghanistan.

Aside from harboring irrefutable enemies of the United States that planned & executed the 9/11 attacks, Afghanistan was a far better choice for building a pro-Western anti-Islamist state.  The Afghanis were thoroughly sick of the Taliban and were eager or at least open to working with us.  

Instead, we gave the military part of the equation a half-assed amount of attention and screwed the pooch on the political, economic, and cultural parts of the equation...that sounds kinda familiar.

by InigoMontoya 2008-07-14 11:38AM | 0 recs


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