Nowhere is the gulf between Barack Obama’s inspirational message and his lifeless policy more evident than on Iraq. The candidate who has nearly assumed power-of-attorney for the words “hope” and “change,” and who recently denounced Republicans for their “mind-set of fear . . . fear of looking weak, fear of new challenges, fear of the unknown,” promises to walk away from the challenge in Iraq and to halt the most stunning cause for hope that region has ever seen. Although Obama speaks of unity, he is ready to undermine the burgeoning reconciliation of Iraq’s Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish citizens. In an Iowa speech this past November, Barack Obama offered, “I will send once more a message to those yearning faces beyond our shores that says, “You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now.” Their future is our future, and in abandoning “those yearning faces” to the forces of chaos and jihad, Obama would indeed make America more vulnerable to those same agents of destruction.
For a snapshot of how the U.S. has actually affected critical change, there is a piece in today’s New York Times about Arab Jabour, Iraq. The area is a kind of microcosmic study of the challenges facing an emergent Iraqi state: Arab Jabour, in addition to having once been a Ba’athist hideout, was a haven for jihadists after the war began as well. Yet last year the U.S. troop surge, with the help of Sunni Awakening groups, took it back. Not only has violence there plummeted, but “Americans have sought to restore irrigation projects, injected millions of dollars in microgrants and aid projects to revitalize the economy, and used “helicopter diplomacy” to bring Shiite government officials to talk to Sunni leaders.” Where does Obama’s rhetoric begin to compete with real world transformation such as this? If elected, he promises drawdowns “immediately” and vows to have all combat troops out of Iraq by 2010.
This piece on the remarkable work of the 82nd Airborne in Baghdad quotes Khalid Ahmed Salih, chairman of a Tribal Support Council: “I will be straight with you. If the Americans pull out a little bit and the government can’t keep in touch with the locals, then things will go back.” They go on to talk to another Shi’ite leader:
Khaleel is optimistic about the future. He thinks the security will continue and prosperity is coming.
“Coalition forces now understand how to deal with the Iraqi people,” he said. “And nobody wants to go back to the troubled years.”
While Iraqis celebrate the surge’s success, Obama denigrates it and talks of revolutions. But if “we are the change we’ve been waiting for” over here, just who does Barack Obama expect to help long-suffering Iraqis ensure their own safe and prosperous futures?