I speculated that something seemed odd about Barack Obama’s account of his conversation with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshay Zebari. Obama said that Zebari didn’t express any concern about Obama’s immediate withdrawal plans. Well, according to Zebari that is a lie. Washington Post editors sat down with Zebari and this is what he said:
The foreign minister said “my message” to Mr. Obama “was very clear. . . . Really, we are making progress. I hope any actions you will take will not endanger this progress.” He said he was reassured by the candidate’s response, which caused him to think that Mr. Obama might not differ all that much from Mr. McCain. Mr. Zebari said that in addition to promising a visit, Mr. Obama said that “if there would be a Democratic administration, it will not take any irresponsible, reckless, sudden decisions or action to endanger your gains, your achievements, your stability or security. Whatever decision he will reach will be made through close consultation with the Iraqi government and U.S. military commanders in the field.”
So not only did Zebari express concern but Obama’s private comments suggested his immediate withdrawal plans, which he still adheres to publicly, may not be so immediate. What does Zebari think about a sudden withdrawal? According to the Post:
In a meeting with Post editors and reporters Tuesday, he said that after all the pain and sacrifices of the past five years, “we are just turning the corner in Iraq.” A precipitous withdrawal, he said, “would create a huge vacuum and undo all the gains and achievements. And the others” — enemies of the United States — “would celebrate.”
There seems little reason for Zebari to lie about his private meeting with Obama. That leaves us to conclude that Obama either didn’t listen to or didn’t understand what Zebari said or misrepresented what he heard from the Foreign Minister. That is deeply troubling. An explanation seems in order from Obama.