Steve Kroft interviewed Barack Obama Sunday night on 60 Minutes. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton talk about “bringing our troops home” and “ending the war in Iraq” if they become president, but occasionally they offer various caveats and loopholes when pinned down on whether some troops will remain Iraq. Obama seems to have opened what may be the biggest loophole yet Sunday night.
“What do you think of what’s going on in Iraq right now?” Kroft asked.
“Well, I think, on the positive side, we’ve seen a reduction in violence. And I don’t think anybody can deny that,” Obama said. “What we haven’t seen is the kind of political reconciliation or accommodation between the Sunni and the Shia and the Kurds that are required in order for Iraq to stabilize. But I completely reject the notion, you know, most forcefully presented by John McCain that we should commit ourselves to a 50-year or a 60-year or a 100-year occupation in order to assure stability in Iraq. I think that is a recipe for disaster.”
“At a time when American casualties are down, at a time when the violence is down, particularly affecting the Iraqi population, is that the right time to try and set time tables for withdrawing all American troops? I mean you talked about…the end of 2009,” Kroft remarked.
“Yeah, absolutely. I think now is precisely the time. I think that it is very important for us to send a clear signal to the Iraqis that we are not gonna be here permanently. We’re not gonna set up permanent bases. That they are going to have to resolve their differences and get their country functioning,” Obama said.
“And you pull out according to that time table, regardless of the situation? Even if there’s serious sectarian violence?” Kroft asked.
“No, I always reserve as commander in chief, the right to assess the situation,” Obama replied.
“The right to assess the situation” could lead to anything. We’d hope it would lead to putting our national security interest ahead of catering to the defeatist peacenik left-wing base of the Democratic party. We suspect that either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, when given daily briefs predicting mass slaughter and a safe haven for al Qaeda in Iraq, would shy away from making their first act in office a military surrender, but we’d rather not take the chance; the stakes are way too high. Who thinks bugging out of Iraq would demonstrate our resolve to our enemies in Afghanistan (or Pakistan, or Iran), rather than causing them to have greater hope of victory? The answer should be obvious. Jihadists all over the world would rejoice, new recruits would join the cause, and their resolve to fight on would be bolstered. The outcome in Iraq will not affect only Iraq.
(Update: Looks like the McCain campaign is on the case.)
Senators Obama and Clinton should be asked what they would do if their CIA director ever says it’s a “slam dunk” that some rogue dictator who’s been considered for years to be a security threat to the U.S. is developing WMD, including nukes. Would they sit on their hands, or act?
Obama also offered some ideas on how the money used to defend Iraq could have been spent, in an alternate reality where Saddam Hussein wasn’t considered a threat in the consensus view and al Qaeda in Iraq has nothing to do with al Qaeda everywhere else:
“It has cost us over half a trillion dollars so far. When the final tab is tallied it may have cost us as much as two trillion dollars,” Obama said at a stump speech. “For that amount of money we could have rebuilt every bridge, every road, every school, every hospital. We could have put in place all the homeland security that was needed. We could have made America more safe. Could put people back to work. Sent our kids to college.”
But of course while the constitution gives the president authority in matters of national security and foreign policy, it doesn’t grant the power to rebuild every bridge, school, and hospital in America, to “put people back to work” whatever that means, or to pay for his kids’ college. This notion that the federal government should provide everything to everybody is in line with the generally utopian, totalitarian world view of the left.
Update: Somewhat in that vein, here is a little Che chic at one of Obama’s campaign offices in Houston, Texas. Of course Obama didn’t hang a flag of Che Guevara in his office, but it does say something that his supporters are people who think Che is worthy of honor, and saw nothing wrong with hanging a picture of the murderer in their office.