Commentary Magazine


Posts For: July 23, 2008

What’s The Point?

Here is a good example of the McCain team’s being not quite certain about how to play an issue. Barack Obama is clearly lying when he said he didn’t previously promise unconditional talks with Ahmadinejad and other state terror sponsors. Ask Hillary Clinton if you doubt it. But the media shrugs and many people say, “Well, he’s not saying that any more.” So why is this important, or why should the McCain team raise it? For many reasons.

#1: He doesn’t tell the truth. His lack of credibility on this and matters small and large (e.g he never heard Wright’s hate speech, he played a major role in immigration, he always thought the surge would work) reveal him to be, at the very least, not offering anything resembling New Politics and, at worst, entirely untrustworthy.

#2: All his bouncing around is evidence of inexperience. He will confound our allies and embolden our foes because he says silly things or doesn’t understand what he is saying or doesn’t realize the import of his words.

#3: It reveals that he is weak and subject to persuasion by whichever group he is in front of at that moment. Before the netroots, unconditional talks sounded good, but no longer. In front of AIPAC “Undivided Jerusalem” sounded good, but not when trying to play the “honest broker” with the Arabs.

#4 (which foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann suggested on the media call today): Obama is stubborn and won’t admit when he makes an error. This is the Bush-redux argument. (The “You don’t want another bullheaded president” argument.)

Maybe it’s all of these things. But rather that simply cry “flip-flopper,” the McCain camp would do better to explain and then hammer home why these examples — and there are lots of them — suggest some deeper reason to believe Obama is unfit for the presidency. (And it likely will have to come in a more promient forum than telephone media calls.)

Here is a good example of the McCain team’s being not quite certain about how to play an issue. Barack Obama is clearly lying when he said he didn’t previously promise unconditional talks with Ahmadinejad and other state terror sponsors. Ask Hillary Clinton if you doubt it. But the media shrugs and many people say, “Well, he’s not saying that any more.” So why is this important, or why should the McCain team raise it? For many reasons.

#1: He doesn’t tell the truth. His lack of credibility on this and matters small and large (e.g he never heard Wright’s hate speech, he played a major role in immigration, he always thought the surge would work) reveal him to be, at the very least, not offering anything resembling New Politics and, at worst, entirely untrustworthy.

#2: All his bouncing around is evidence of inexperience. He will confound our allies and embolden our foes because he says silly things or doesn’t understand what he is saying or doesn’t realize the import of his words.

#3: It reveals that he is weak and subject to persuasion by whichever group he is in front of at that moment. Before the netroots, unconditional talks sounded good, but no longer. In front of AIPAC “Undivided Jerusalem” sounded good, but not when trying to play the “honest broker” with the Arabs.

#4 (which foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann suggested on the media call today): Obama is stubborn and won’t admit when he makes an error. This is the Bush-redux argument. (The “You don’t want another bullheaded president” argument.)

Maybe it’s all of these things. But rather that simply cry “flip-flopper,” the McCain camp would do better to explain and then hammer home why these examples — and there are lots of them — suggest some deeper reason to believe Obama is unfit for the presidency. (And it likely will have to come in a more promient forum than telephone media calls.)

Read Less

More on Maliki’s Games

My op-ed in the Washington Post, “Behind Maliki’s Games,” is causing a predictable tizzy in some corners of the leftist blogosphere. (See, for instance, this and this and this.) I would like to reply briefly to a couple of the points raised.

First, the bloggers ask, how can I possibly claim that “most Iraqis realize that the gains of the surge are fragile and could be undone by a too-rapid departure of U.S. forces”? Aren’t I aware of a March poll by the BBC, ABC, and other Western news organizations which found, as one blogger notes, “Just four percent of Iraqis said they had ‘a great deal of confidence’ in U.S. occupation forces, compared to 46 percent who said they had no confidence at all. 72 percent strongly or somewhat oppose the presence of Coalition forces in Iraq.”

I am well aware of that poll, and I have cited before another of its findings–namely that only 38% of Iraqis think that coalition forces should leave right away. Of those surveyed, fully 62% think that U.S. forces need to stay until security conditions improve. “Moreover,” the poll summary finds, “despite their antipathy, big majorities see a continued role for the United States. From two-thirds to 80 percent of Iraqis support future U.S. efforts conducting security operations against al Qaeda or foreign jihadis in Iraq; providing military training, weapons and reconstruction aid; and assisting in security vis-à-vis Iran and Turkey.”

So, yes, it’s true that Iraqis oppose the presence of coalition forces–in theory. But they don’t want them to leave until the country is more secure than it is at the moment. That is, in essence, the public sentiment to which Prime Minister Maliki is catering with his statements that U.S. combat troops (though not all troops) could leave by 2010. That is far from a hard and fast timetable of the sort that Senator Obama favors. In fact, Maliki’s spokesman has been clear that the prime minister opposes a set schedule for withdrawals because he knows that conditions may not allow it.

This brings me to the other point raised by the bloggers–their claim that by casting doubt on whether U.S. troops can really be pulled out by 2010 I am infringing on Iraqi sovereignty. Really. (See, e.g., this post.) This, in spite of the fact that I actually wrote, “Of course, if the Iraqi government tells us to leave, we will have to leave.” As that sentence should make clear, I am all in favor of respecting the sovereign decisions of the Iraqi government.

But in this case the government hasn’t made any such decision. I stress the word “government” because this whole conversation has been driven by shifting and ambiguous statements from a prime minister who is the leader of a small minority party in a large coalition government. Maliki has been gaining strength with his courageous decision to take on the Shiite militias, but the fact remains that his word is not law. This isn’t, mercifully, the Iraq of Saddam Hussein. This is a parliamentary democracy where, in order to make big decisions, the prime ministers needs to convince his fellow cabinet ministers and parliamentarians.

I see little evidence that Maliki has brought other parties on board to demand a U.S. withdrawal by 2010. In fact, from what I hear other Iraqi parties are displeased with his loose talk. There was a hint of this in an article in the New York Times yesterday which reported the disquiet of one of Iraq’s vice presidents, Tariq Hashimi, leader of the largest Sunni party: “The talk of a strict timetable appeared to worry Mr. Hashimi. Sunni Muslims fear that a rapid withdrawal would leave them vulnerable to Shiite Muslim efforts to further diminish their power. Rather, he said the emphasis should be on the Iraqi army’s readiness.”

Obama heard the same message from tribal leaders of the Awakening council in Anbar Province. According to Reuters, “Obama said that Anbar tribal leaders and the province’s governor had expressed concern about a potential ‘precipitous drawdown’ of U.S. troops.”

So I am all in favor of listening to the voice of a newly democratic Iraq. But don’t oversimplify what that voice-or rather cacophony of voices-is saying.

My op-ed in the Washington Post, “Behind Maliki’s Games,” is causing a predictable tizzy in some corners of the leftist blogosphere. (See, for instance, this and this and this.) I would like to reply briefly to a couple of the points raised.

First, the bloggers ask, how can I possibly claim that “most Iraqis realize that the gains of the surge are fragile and could be undone by a too-rapid departure of U.S. forces”? Aren’t I aware of a March poll by the BBC, ABC, and other Western news organizations which found, as one blogger notes, “Just four percent of Iraqis said they had ‘a great deal of confidence’ in U.S. occupation forces, compared to 46 percent who said they had no confidence at all. 72 percent strongly or somewhat oppose the presence of Coalition forces in Iraq.”

I am well aware of that poll, and I have cited before another of its findings–namely that only 38% of Iraqis think that coalition forces should leave right away. Of those surveyed, fully 62% think that U.S. forces need to stay until security conditions improve. “Moreover,” the poll summary finds, “despite their antipathy, big majorities see a continued role for the United States. From two-thirds to 80 percent of Iraqis support future U.S. efforts conducting security operations against al Qaeda or foreign jihadis in Iraq; providing military training, weapons and reconstruction aid; and assisting in security vis-à-vis Iran and Turkey.”

So, yes, it’s true that Iraqis oppose the presence of coalition forces–in theory. But they don’t want them to leave until the country is more secure than it is at the moment. That is, in essence, the public sentiment to which Prime Minister Maliki is catering with his statements that U.S. combat troops (though not all troops) could leave by 2010. That is far from a hard and fast timetable of the sort that Senator Obama favors. In fact, Maliki’s spokesman has been clear that the prime minister opposes a set schedule for withdrawals because he knows that conditions may not allow it.

This brings me to the other point raised by the bloggers–their claim that by casting doubt on whether U.S. troops can really be pulled out by 2010 I am infringing on Iraqi sovereignty. Really. (See, e.g., this post.) This, in spite of the fact that I actually wrote, “Of course, if the Iraqi government tells us to leave, we will have to leave.” As that sentence should make clear, I am all in favor of respecting the sovereign decisions of the Iraqi government.

But in this case the government hasn’t made any such decision. I stress the word “government” because this whole conversation has been driven by shifting and ambiguous statements from a prime minister who is the leader of a small minority party in a large coalition government. Maliki has been gaining strength with his courageous decision to take on the Shiite militias, but the fact remains that his word is not law. This isn’t, mercifully, the Iraq of Saddam Hussein. This is a parliamentary democracy where, in order to make big decisions, the prime ministers needs to convince his fellow cabinet ministers and parliamentarians.

I see little evidence that Maliki has brought other parties on board to demand a U.S. withdrawal by 2010. In fact, from what I hear other Iraqi parties are displeased with his loose talk. There was a hint of this in an article in the New York Times yesterday which reported the disquiet of one of Iraq’s vice presidents, Tariq Hashimi, leader of the largest Sunni party: “The talk of a strict timetable appeared to worry Mr. Hashimi. Sunni Muslims fear that a rapid withdrawal would leave them vulnerable to Shiite Muslim efforts to further diminish their power. Rather, he said the emphasis should be on the Iraqi army’s readiness.”

Obama heard the same message from tribal leaders of the Awakening council in Anbar Province. According to Reuters, “Obama said that Anbar tribal leaders and the province’s governor had expressed concern about a potential ‘precipitous drawdown’ of U.S. troops.”

So I am all in favor of listening to the voice of a newly democratic Iraq. But don’t oversimplify what that voice-or rather cacophony of voices-is saying.

Read Less

Eureka . . .

Despite the NY Times’ best efforts, I’ve finally found a reason to like Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY).

Despite the NY Times’ best efforts, I’ve finally found a reason to like Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY).

Read Less

It is Not All Ticker-Tape Parades

Yes, the overwhelming tone of the media coverage, most especially on TV, is gushingly pro-Obama. But there are rays of reality which poke through. That is especially true in print coverage, but even on TV there are exceptions to Obama-mania. A CNN correspondent reminds viewers that Obama’s scheme for withdrawing a brigade a month is likely a nonstarter. And Joe Scarborough gets Harold Ford to admit that the notion that the Sunni awakening was somehow unrelated to the surge is absurd.

As Scarborough makes clear, what is so maddening about the coverage is that the news anchors and reporters who repeat Obama’s mantras uncritically and who marvel at the lovely photos do know better. (I have no doubt that if a Republican candidate was repeating such gibberish the headlines would be “GOP Candidate Out Of Touch.”) It is downright silly to claim the Anbar awakening happened by magic on its own or that Iraq would be anything other than a chaotic killing zone without the surge.

And what is McCain to do about this? You can only complain and ridicule the press so much. It would seem that a singular focus on Obama’s apparent regret that we invested time, money, and lives in a successful surge is the way to go. There is plenty of material to work with, some incredulous media to cultivate on the topic and a public predisposed to dislike candidates who apologize for America’s success. Whether one considers the before/after surge dichotomy or what Iraq and the Middle East would look like if we hadn’t succeeded (starting with the recognition that all the Iraqi leaders Obama met with would likely be dead or powerless), the question remains why Obama even now prefers the “without surge” scenerio.

After the hoopla subsides, that question will remain. And McCain is not without some receptive outlets through which he can make his case.

Yes, the overwhelming tone of the media coverage, most especially on TV, is gushingly pro-Obama. But there are rays of reality which poke through. That is especially true in print coverage, but even on TV there are exceptions to Obama-mania. A CNN correspondent reminds viewers that Obama’s scheme for withdrawing a brigade a month is likely a nonstarter. And Joe Scarborough gets Harold Ford to admit that the notion that the Sunni awakening was somehow unrelated to the surge is absurd.

As Scarborough makes clear, what is so maddening about the coverage is that the news anchors and reporters who repeat Obama’s mantras uncritically and who marvel at the lovely photos do know better. (I have no doubt that if a Republican candidate was repeating such gibberish the headlines would be “GOP Candidate Out Of Touch.”) It is downright silly to claim the Anbar awakening happened by magic on its own or that Iraq would be anything other than a chaotic killing zone without the surge.

And what is McCain to do about this? You can only complain and ridicule the press so much. It would seem that a singular focus on Obama’s apparent regret that we invested time, money, and lives in a successful surge is the way to go. There is plenty of material to work with, some incredulous media to cultivate on the topic and a public predisposed to dislike candidates who apologize for America’s success. Whether one considers the before/after surge dichotomy or what Iraq and the Middle East would look like if we hadn’t succeeded (starting with the recognition that all the Iraqi leaders Obama met with would likely be dead or powerless), the question remains why Obama even now prefers the “without surge” scenerio.

After the hoopla subsides, that question will remain. And McCain is not without some receptive outlets through which he can make his case.

Read Less

Absolutely Fascinating: Robert F. Kennedy Reporting from Israel, 1948

At the age of 22, in 1948, Robert F. Kennedy filed dispatches from Israel for the Boston Post, a long-defunct newspaper. Lenny Ben-David has found them and begun a blog featuring them. They are, it must be said, remarkable. Kennedy wrote very well, it turns out, and the pieces offer a vivid portrait of a moment in time. Of the Palestinian Arabs, he writes,, “They are willing to let the Jews remain as peaceful citizens subject to the rule of the Arab majority just as the Arabs are doing in such great number in Egypt and the Levant states, but they are determined that a separate Jewish state will be attacked and attacked until it is finally cut out like an unhealthy abscess.”

And of the Jews of Palestine:

Under the supposition that, at the finish of the mandate, this was to be their national state, [the Jews] went to work. They set up laboratories where world-famous scientists could study and analyze soils and crops. The combination of arduous labor and almost unlimited funds from the United States changed what was once arid desert into flourishing orange groves. Soils had to be washed of salt, day after day, year after year, before crops could be planted. One can see this work going on in lesser or more advanced stages wherever there are Jewish settlements in Palestine. From a small village of a few thousand inhabitants, Tel Aviv has grown into a most impressive modern metropolis of over 200,000. They have truly done much with what all agree was very little.

The Jews point with pride to the fact that over 500,000 Arabs in the 12 years between 1932 and 1944, came into Palestine to take advantage of living conditions existing in no other Arab state. This is the only country in the Near and Middle East where an Arab middle class is in existence.The Jews point out that they have always taken a passive part in the frequent revolutions that have racked the country, because of the understanding that they would eventually be set free from British mandateship. They wished to do nothing to impair this expected action. During the second World War they sent numerous volunteer Jewish brigades which fought commendably with the British in Italy. In addition to that, many Palestinian Jews fought as volunteers with Allied troops throughout the world and still others were dropped by parachute into German-held territory as espionage agents. They were perhaps doing no more than their duty, but they did their duty well.

The Jews feel that promise after promise to them has been broken. They can quote freely, for example, from speech after speech of Labor Party leaders in the election campaign prior to the victory of the Labor Party in England, to attest to the fact that one need not even refer back to the controversial Balfour declaration to learn Britain’s attitude and promises toward a Jews state was to be one of the first acts of the Labor government if it were put into power.

Given the anti-Semitic views of Kennedy’s father Joseph, RFK’s independent cast of thought at so young an age is especially noteworthy.

At the age of 22, in 1948, Robert F. Kennedy filed dispatches from Israel for the Boston Post, a long-defunct newspaper. Lenny Ben-David has found them and begun a blog featuring them. They are, it must be said, remarkable. Kennedy wrote very well, it turns out, and the pieces offer a vivid portrait of a moment in time. Of the Palestinian Arabs, he writes,, “They are willing to let the Jews remain as peaceful citizens subject to the rule of the Arab majority just as the Arabs are doing in such great number in Egypt and the Levant states, but they are determined that a separate Jewish state will be attacked and attacked until it is finally cut out like an unhealthy abscess.”

And of the Jews of Palestine:

Under the supposition that, at the finish of the mandate, this was to be their national state, [the Jews] went to work. They set up laboratories where world-famous scientists could study and analyze soils and crops. The combination of arduous labor and almost unlimited funds from the United States changed what was once arid desert into flourishing orange groves. Soils had to be washed of salt, day after day, year after year, before crops could be planted. One can see this work going on in lesser or more advanced stages wherever there are Jewish settlements in Palestine. From a small village of a few thousand inhabitants, Tel Aviv has grown into a most impressive modern metropolis of over 200,000. They have truly done much with what all agree was very little.

The Jews point with pride to the fact that over 500,000 Arabs in the 12 years between 1932 and 1944, came into Palestine to take advantage of living conditions existing in no other Arab state. This is the only country in the Near and Middle East where an Arab middle class is in existence.The Jews point out that they have always taken a passive part in the frequent revolutions that have racked the country, because of the understanding that they would eventually be set free from British mandateship. They wished to do nothing to impair this expected action. During the second World War they sent numerous volunteer Jewish brigades which fought commendably with the British in Italy. In addition to that, many Palestinian Jews fought as volunteers with Allied troops throughout the world and still others were dropped by parachute into German-held territory as espionage agents. They were perhaps doing no more than their duty, but they did their duty well.

The Jews feel that promise after promise to them has been broken. They can quote freely, for example, from speech after speech of Labor Party leaders in the election campaign prior to the victory of the Labor Party in England, to attest to the fact that one need not even refer back to the controversial Balfour declaration to learn Britain’s attitude and promises toward a Jews state was to be one of the first acts of the Labor government if it were put into power.

Given the anti-Semitic views of Kennedy’s father Joseph, RFK’s independent cast of thought at so young an age is especially noteworthy.

Read Less

They’ll Hate Obama, Eventually

David Aaronovitch, one of Britain’s most perceptive commentators, had a lucid piece in the Times of London yesterday dispelling several dearly-held notions of the Left commentariat. The first myth is that

on the morning of September 12, 2001, George W. and America enjoyed the sympathy of the world. This comradeship was destroyed, in a uniquely cavalier (or should we say cowboyish) fashion, through the belligerence, the carelessness, the ideological fixity and the rapacity of that amorphous and useful category of American flawed thinker, the neoconservative. They just threw it away.

The corollary to this explanation of global attitudes towards America, of course, is that the junior senator from Illinois will be able to reverse all of the low poll numbers:

But there isn’t anything that can’t be fixed with a sprinkling of genuine fairy dust. What Bush lost, Obama can find. Where the Texan swaggered, the Chicagoan can glide. Emotional literacy will replace flat iteration, persuasion will supplant force as the preferred means of achieving what needs to be achieved, empathy will trump narcissism.

Aaronovitch argues convincingly that anti-Americanism is a persistent force in the world, due to our economic and cultural power, and that a significant segment of the planet’s people will always tell pollsters they disapprove of this or that American policy or this or that American leader. It’s connected to “runaway modernity,” with America at the forefront. Aaronovitch explains: “So Barack Obama, en fête around the world, will one day learn that there is no magical cure for the envy of others.”

Anyways, this is Aaronovitch at his finest, and the entire piece is well worth a read.

David Aaronovitch, one of Britain’s most perceptive commentators, had a lucid piece in the Times of London yesterday dispelling several dearly-held notions of the Left commentariat. The first myth is that

on the morning of September 12, 2001, George W. and America enjoyed the sympathy of the world. This comradeship was destroyed, in a uniquely cavalier (or should we say cowboyish) fashion, through the belligerence, the carelessness, the ideological fixity and the rapacity of that amorphous and useful category of American flawed thinker, the neoconservative. They just threw it away.

The corollary to this explanation of global attitudes towards America, of course, is that the junior senator from Illinois will be able to reverse all of the low poll numbers:

But there isn’t anything that can’t be fixed with a sprinkling of genuine fairy dust. What Bush lost, Obama can find. Where the Texan swaggered, the Chicagoan can glide. Emotional literacy will replace flat iteration, persuasion will supplant force as the preferred means of achieving what needs to be achieved, empathy will trump narcissism.

Aaronovitch argues convincingly that anti-Americanism is a persistent force in the world, due to our economic and cultural power, and that a significant segment of the planet’s people will always tell pollsters they disapprove of this or that American policy or this or that American leader. It’s connected to “runaway modernity,” with America at the forefront. Aaronovitch explains: “So Barack Obama, en fête around the world, will one day learn that there is no magical cure for the envy of others.”

Anyways, this is Aaronovitch at his finest, and the entire piece is well worth a read.

Read Less

Now We Know

Barack Obama has repeatedly expressed puzzlement at how American Jews could be wary of him. At various shuls and before AIPAC he has brought up the email/whispering campaign, his middle name and even the comments of other African-Americans to explain why Jews haven’t all been smitten by the Great Man. The tone, not just from him, but from his blogoshpere friends has often been one of “But how can it be that they doubt him?” Well, now there are plenty of stories explaining why and how Israelis are wary of him. Ah, so maybe this is what’s upsetting all the American Jews?!

As we noted here, the Times writes of Obama’s comments yesterday:

Talking to reporters in Jordan yesterday, Mr Obama made remarks that are likely to unsettle his Israeli hosts. Although he reiterated his unflinching support for Israel, he went out of his way to highlight the economic and political struggle of the Palestinians, saying: “What I think can change is the ability of the United States government and a United States president . . . to be concerned and recognise the legitimate difficulties that the Palestinian people are experiencing right now.” Israelis are particularly suspicious of Mr Obama because of his willingness to talk to Iran’s leadership, and a perception that he is sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Unlike a visit to the region by his Republican rival John McCain in May, the Democrat will not only hold meetings in Jerusalem, but will travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah to talk with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, and Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister. Mr Obama is likely to seek to clarify his declaration last month, made in a speech to a powerful Jewish-American lobby group, that Jerusalem should be the undivided capital of Israel . The remark appeared to pre-judge final status talks, and went even further than current policy under the Bush Administration. He then backtracked, calling it “poor phrasing”.

And wouldn’t you know, in Israel they make a connection between Iraq, Iran and their own well-being. The Wall Street Journal explains:

The judgments I’ve made over the past two years matched up with the realities on the ground,” Sen. Obama told reporters in the Jordanian capital. “That’s where U.S. foreign policy has to go.”But Israelis see Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to the existence of their state, especially given the rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And Israelis strongly backed the Bush administration’s campaign to oust former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who was considered the Arab world’s fiercest foe of the Jewish state.”People here have a gut feeling about who is going to be tougher on Israel’s enemies, and the answer is John McCain,” says Uri Dromi, a political analyst and commentator in Israel. . . .The concern doesn’t seem partisan, but rather specific to Sen. Obama. Before she suspended her campaign, fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton was wildly popular with Israelis.

And then there is this, which is simply is too good to be excerpted and explains why so many Israelis are afraid Obama isn’t receiving or understanding the message terrorists are sending even on the occasion of his trip.

The concerns are not easily allayed for those both in Israel and at home because it goes to the heart of how Obama sees the U.S. in the world and how he has responded in war. When a politician doesn’t wish to fulfill our obligations in a war (i.e. Iraq) — in part because of the fear it has made the U.S. unpopular in the world — and when he parrots the myths about poverty creating terror, that is going to make some people nervous. When he tells both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict what he imagines they might want to hear, when he receives advice from those who believe either (or both) that unconditional engagement with Hamas is a good idea or that Israel monopolizes too much of our attention and affections, and when he shushes Hillary Clinton for warning Iran about nuking Israel (and gives as a justification the “sympathy” such comments might engender in the UN, ground zero for world Israel bashing) that makes them even more nervous. And the denials — really base lying — that he never changed his mind on “undivided Israel” and always opposed Palestinian elections with Hamas on the ballot give these wary people all the more reason to suspect that Obama is trying to pull a fast one.

These concerns stem directly from Obama’s world view and a fundamental concern, that in the race for international popularity, Israel will get lost in the shuffle. And more personally, it comes from the perception that Obama is simply not savvy enough to spot, or tough enough to combat, the enemies of Israel and the U.S. Maybe a trip to Yad Vashem and the Kotel can solve all that. (Although it’s best not to duck questions about preventing another Holocaust at Yad Vashem.) But I suspect the very people who have these concerns are the last ones to be swayed by pretty trip pictures.

Barack Obama has repeatedly expressed puzzlement at how American Jews could be wary of him. At various shuls and before AIPAC he has brought up the email/whispering campaign, his middle name and even the comments of other African-Americans to explain why Jews haven’t all been smitten by the Great Man. The tone, not just from him, but from his blogoshpere friends has often been one of “But how can it be that they doubt him?” Well, now there are plenty of stories explaining why and how Israelis are wary of him. Ah, so maybe this is what’s upsetting all the American Jews?!

As we noted here, the Times writes of Obama’s comments yesterday:

Talking to reporters in Jordan yesterday, Mr Obama made remarks that are likely to unsettle his Israeli hosts. Although he reiterated his unflinching support for Israel, he went out of his way to highlight the economic and political struggle of the Palestinians, saying: “What I think can change is the ability of the United States government and a United States president . . . to be concerned and recognise the legitimate difficulties that the Palestinian people are experiencing right now.” Israelis are particularly suspicious of Mr Obama because of his willingness to talk to Iran’s leadership, and a perception that he is sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Unlike a visit to the region by his Republican rival John McCain in May, the Democrat will not only hold meetings in Jerusalem, but will travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah to talk with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, and Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister. Mr Obama is likely to seek to clarify his declaration last month, made in a speech to a powerful Jewish-American lobby group, that Jerusalem should be the undivided capital of Israel . The remark appeared to pre-judge final status talks, and went even further than current policy under the Bush Administration. He then backtracked, calling it “poor phrasing”.

And wouldn’t you know, in Israel they make a connection between Iraq, Iran and their own well-being. The Wall Street Journal explains:

The judgments I’ve made over the past two years matched up with the realities on the ground,” Sen. Obama told reporters in the Jordanian capital. “That’s where U.S. foreign policy has to go.”But Israelis see Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to the existence of their state, especially given the rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And Israelis strongly backed the Bush administration’s campaign to oust former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who was considered the Arab world’s fiercest foe of the Jewish state.”People here have a gut feeling about who is going to be tougher on Israel’s enemies, and the answer is John McCain,” says Uri Dromi, a political analyst and commentator in Israel. . . .The concern doesn’t seem partisan, but rather specific to Sen. Obama. Before she suspended her campaign, fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton was wildly popular with Israelis.

And then there is this, which is simply is too good to be excerpted and explains why so many Israelis are afraid Obama isn’t receiving or understanding the message terrorists are sending even on the occasion of his trip.

The concerns are not easily allayed for those both in Israel and at home because it goes to the heart of how Obama sees the U.S. in the world and how he has responded in war. When a politician doesn’t wish to fulfill our obligations in a war (i.e. Iraq) — in part because of the fear it has made the U.S. unpopular in the world — and when he parrots the myths about poverty creating terror, that is going to make some people nervous. When he tells both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict what he imagines they might want to hear, when he receives advice from those who believe either (or both) that unconditional engagement with Hamas is a good idea or that Israel monopolizes too much of our attention and affections, and when he shushes Hillary Clinton for warning Iran about nuking Israel (and gives as a justification the “sympathy” such comments might engender in the UN, ground zero for world Israel bashing) that makes them even more nervous. And the denials — really base lying — that he never changed his mind on “undivided Israel” and always opposed Palestinian elections with Hamas on the ballot give these wary people all the more reason to suspect that Obama is trying to pull a fast one.

These concerns stem directly from Obama’s world view and a fundamental concern, that in the race for international popularity, Israel will get lost in the shuffle. And more personally, it comes from the perception that Obama is simply not savvy enough to spot, or tough enough to combat, the enemies of Israel and the U.S. Maybe a trip to Yad Vashem and the Kotel can solve all that. (Although it’s best not to duck questions about preventing another Holocaust at Yad Vashem.) But I suspect the very people who have these concerns are the last ones to be swayed by pretty trip pictures.

Read Less

Berlin Is The Right Analogy

You have to suffer through some of the feigned intellectualism (“the lessons are anything but simple”: actually, they are exceedingly simple). But Ruth Marcus has a point. After a nod to presidential restraint and a Katrina reference (stick with me) she gets to this comparison between the Berlin airlift in 1948 and Baghdad:

But there are lessons from the airlift that should be more unsettling for those, like Obama, who want to be done with Iraq. The impulse of many Americans then, just as now, was to be finished with the entire project . . . Sixty years later, as Obama arrives in a prosperous, thriving Berlin, it is fair to wonder whether the Cold War might have unfolded differently had Truman decided not to draw the line there against Soviet aggression. The allure of quick and definite withdrawal from Iraq is evident. The reward of careful perseverance may become visible only in the long arc of history.

It is that larger historic and strategic argument I think John McCain would do well to make. America has defeated its enemies because we didn’t choose to desert allies and spend our money on “something else” that had a bigger political payoff domestically. We have defended freedom and beaten committed enemies (who observe how we act and see the degree of our resolve) even after we had made errors and suffered setbacks.

I don’t recall President Truman saying that, because others screwed up at Potsdam, he wasn’t going to bother with the mess of a divided Germany. All leaders in war and diplomacy are dealt a flawed hand, the results of their own errors and those who came before them. The issue is whether you fold because the hand is not what you had in mind or whether you make the best of it. What you don’t do is tell your enemies that you’d rather increase domestic spending than win a war you are already fighting. ( Should the Taliban check to see what Obama’s healthcare plan is going to cost to assess his determination to fight on in Afghanistan? How long before that war seems a poor use of funds that could be spent on, say, broadband for Houston?)

McCain would do well to talk about the demands of war, the virtue of perseverance, and the danger of defeat, which invariably emboldens your enemies. Voters might begin to wonder why only one candidate sees that it will be valuable to win a war. And McCain might even get some voters to think what would have happened if past presidents had taken the same approach.

You have to suffer through some of the feigned intellectualism (“the lessons are anything but simple”: actually, they are exceedingly simple). But Ruth Marcus has a point. After a nod to presidential restraint and a Katrina reference (stick with me) she gets to this comparison between the Berlin airlift in 1948 and Baghdad:

But there are lessons from the airlift that should be more unsettling for those, like Obama, who want to be done with Iraq. The impulse of many Americans then, just as now, was to be finished with the entire project . . . Sixty years later, as Obama arrives in a prosperous, thriving Berlin, it is fair to wonder whether the Cold War might have unfolded differently had Truman decided not to draw the line there against Soviet aggression. The allure of quick and definite withdrawal from Iraq is evident. The reward of careful perseverance may become visible only in the long arc of history.

It is that larger historic and strategic argument I think John McCain would do well to make. America has defeated its enemies because we didn’t choose to desert allies and spend our money on “something else” that had a bigger political payoff domestically. We have defended freedom and beaten committed enemies (who observe how we act and see the degree of our resolve) even after we had made errors and suffered setbacks.

I don’t recall President Truman saying that, because others screwed up at Potsdam, he wasn’t going to bother with the mess of a divided Germany. All leaders in war and diplomacy are dealt a flawed hand, the results of their own errors and those who came before them. The issue is whether you fold because the hand is not what you had in mind or whether you make the best of it. What you don’t do is tell your enemies that you’d rather increase domestic spending than win a war you are already fighting. ( Should the Taliban check to see what Obama’s healthcare plan is going to cost to assess his determination to fight on in Afghanistan? How long before that war seems a poor use of funds that could be spent on, say, broadband for Houston?)

McCain would do well to talk about the demands of war, the virtue of perseverance, and the danger of defeat, which invariably emboldens your enemies. Voters might begin to wonder why only one candidate sees that it will be valuable to win a war. And McCain might even get some voters to think what would have happened if past presidents had taken the same approach.

Read Less

From YearlyKos to a Star Wars Convention

Last week was the annual “Netroots Nation” conference, formerly known as “Yearly Kos,” where hundreds of liberal bloggers meet to discuss “how to be more effective in using technology to influence the public debate,” be “an incubator for progressive ideas” and, as Christopher Hitchens once mocked, continue their “long underground twilight struggle against Dick Cheney.”

“Kathy G.” is one netrooter who attended last week’s conference. Yet she has some beefs. Primary among them is that

The cost is probably one reason why the conference was so overwhelmingly white — it was about the whitest left-of-center gathering I’ve ever attended. And I don’t just mean that there were few African-Americans — Latinos and Asian-Americans were scarce as well. I also noticed that the attendees seemed to skew heavily male.

Yet the overwhelming white/male/upper-middle class composition of Netroots Nation probably had less to do with the cost of attending than it did the simple fact that most liberal blog readers and writers are white, male and upper-class, with a median annual income of $80,000. The Netroots is hardly representative of the country, never mind the base of the Democratic Party which it claims to represent.

Also, “there could have been more panels with people disagreeing with each other.” Sorry, but dissent isn’t allowed in Netroots Nation.

Anyways, those who attended this year’s Netroots Nation conference should enjoy it, because whatever “power” the Netroots had in Democratic politics will not last much longer. The illusion is up. To quote “paleoprog,” an apt commenter on the popular, left-of-center American Footprints blog:

There is a reason why Obama doesn’t respect the net left and is willing to lie to them and then betray them, it’s because they may not even respect themselves. Almost everything the roots have said about Iraq or the Bush administration is a half truth. From the lie about the pre-war intelligence to the insistence that the surge has not helped reduce violence to the valorization of Moqtada al Sadr. In a year or two, yearly kos and netroots nation will have the political significance of a renaissance fair or a star wars memorabilia trade show.

Remember to keep your Markos Moulitsas figurine in its original packaging.

Last week was the annual “Netroots Nation” conference, formerly known as “Yearly Kos,” where hundreds of liberal bloggers meet to discuss “how to be more effective in using technology to influence the public debate,” be “an incubator for progressive ideas” and, as Christopher Hitchens once mocked, continue their “long underground twilight struggle against Dick Cheney.”

“Kathy G.” is one netrooter who attended last week’s conference. Yet she has some beefs. Primary among them is that

The cost is probably one reason why the conference was so overwhelmingly white — it was about the whitest left-of-center gathering I’ve ever attended. And I don’t just mean that there were few African-Americans — Latinos and Asian-Americans were scarce as well. I also noticed that the attendees seemed to skew heavily male.

Yet the overwhelming white/male/upper-middle class composition of Netroots Nation probably had less to do with the cost of attending than it did the simple fact that most liberal blog readers and writers are white, male and upper-class, with a median annual income of $80,000. The Netroots is hardly representative of the country, never mind the base of the Democratic Party which it claims to represent.

Also, “there could have been more panels with people disagreeing with each other.” Sorry, but dissent isn’t allowed in Netroots Nation.

Anyways, those who attended this year’s Netroots Nation conference should enjoy it, because whatever “power” the Netroots had in Democratic politics will not last much longer. The illusion is up. To quote “paleoprog,” an apt commenter on the popular, left-of-center American Footprints blog:

There is a reason why Obama doesn’t respect the net left and is willing to lie to them and then betray them, it’s because they may not even respect themselves. Almost everything the roots have said about Iraq or the Bush administration is a half truth. From the lie about the pre-war intelligence to the insistence that the surge has not helped reduce violence to the valorization of Moqtada al Sadr. In a year or two, yearly kos and netroots nation will have the political significance of a renaissance fair or a star wars memorabilia trade show.

Remember to keep your Markos Moulitsas figurine in its original packaging.

Read Less

Terrible, Just Terrible

Could it be that “the American people may be repelled at the sight of a man touring the planet in presidential style who has yet to even be nominated by his own party?” asks Howard Fineman. He then writes:

There is something a little off about Obamapalooza, even if it is not entirely the candidate’s fault. The self-conscious mimicking of J.F.K. can be cloying or even worse. Kennedy went to Berlin in the midst of a Cold War crisis. To stand at the Brandenburg Gate and declare “Ich bin ein Berliner” took enormous guts. Obama has yet to match that fortitude — and he hasn’t been chosen president. However quaint it may seem, voters may want a say in that decision.

But who exactly is contributing to the Obamapalooza if not the MSM of which Fineman is a tried and true member?

There is something perverse and deeply dishonest about the MSM throwing the ticker tape parade for Obama, gushing at every turn, and then turning around to wonder if it’s all a bit over the top. Rather than focus on the substance: McCain was right (they now concede) and Obama wrong, all they can do is marvel at the atmospherics. “Wow, isn’t it neat how he’s getting away with such appalling decision making and getting our applause!”

Moreover, in the two significant interviews of the trip — one with Terry Moran and the other with Katie Couric (the entire segment is a must-see)– Obama performed poorly and created more problems for himself by insisting on positions that seemed shaky (Still no support for the surge? He wants to spend the money on an energy policy instead?) and even going so far as to deny that he changed position on Jerusalem.

Rather than focus on their own accomplished and newsworthy interviews, the networks have continued to gush over the travel photos, almost as if their own interviews failed to turn up much new at all. That (like failing to object to the lack of access to Obama and to nondisclosure of basic data throughout the campaign) shows a shocking willingness to sacrifice even their own journalistic reputations and “standards” to boost their candidate of choice. As John said: scandalous.

Could it be that “the American people may be repelled at the sight of a man touring the planet in presidential style who has yet to even be nominated by his own party?” asks Howard Fineman. He then writes:

There is something a little off about Obamapalooza, even if it is not entirely the candidate’s fault. The self-conscious mimicking of J.F.K. can be cloying or even worse. Kennedy went to Berlin in the midst of a Cold War crisis. To stand at the Brandenburg Gate and declare “Ich bin ein Berliner” took enormous guts. Obama has yet to match that fortitude — and he hasn’t been chosen president. However quaint it may seem, voters may want a say in that decision.

But who exactly is contributing to the Obamapalooza if not the MSM of which Fineman is a tried and true member?

There is something perverse and deeply dishonest about the MSM throwing the ticker tape parade for Obama, gushing at every turn, and then turning around to wonder if it’s all a bit over the top. Rather than focus on the substance: McCain was right (they now concede) and Obama wrong, all they can do is marvel at the atmospherics. “Wow, isn’t it neat how he’s getting away with such appalling decision making and getting our applause!”

Moreover, in the two significant interviews of the trip — one with Terry Moran and the other with Katie Couric (the entire segment is a must-see)– Obama performed poorly and created more problems for himself by insisting on positions that seemed shaky (Still no support for the surge? He wants to spend the money on an energy policy instead?) and even going so far as to deny that he changed position on Jerusalem.

Rather than focus on their own accomplished and newsworthy interviews, the networks have continued to gush over the travel photos, almost as if their own interviews failed to turn up much new at all. That (like failing to object to the lack of access to Obama and to nondisclosure of basic data throughout the campaign) shows a shocking willingness to sacrifice even their own journalistic reputations and “standards” to boost their candidate of choice. As John said: scandalous.

Read Less

Obama Pledges Israel’s Commitment to Israel

Barack Obama, always hesitant to make promises he cannot easily keep, had this to say at a press conference in Amman, Jordan:

“Let me be absolutely clear,” Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, said today at a press conference in Amman, Jordan. “Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s. It will be a strong friend of Israel’s under a McCain…administration. It will be a strong friend of Israel’s under an Obama administration. So that policy is not going to change.”

Israel is the Israel Israel has been waiting for.

Barack Obama, always hesitant to make promises he cannot easily keep, had this to say at a press conference in Amman, Jordan:

“Let me be absolutely clear,” Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, said today at a press conference in Amman, Jordan. “Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s. It will be a strong friend of Israel’s under a McCain…administration. It will be a strong friend of Israel’s under an Obama administration. So that policy is not going to change.”

Israel is the Israel Israel has been waiting for.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Katie Couric did her job yesterday. If Barack Obama can’t answer Katie Couric’s concerns, there may be hope for John McCain yet.

Not the Great Depression? Harumph!

Rooting for America isn’t the problem –it’s rooting for one candidate while masquerading as an impartial journalist that is the problem.

If it is to be believed this is just the thing to panic supporters of Israel: “A member of the king’s inner circle who attended the chicken-and-rice dinner with King Abdullah and Queen Rania said that Obama had gone a long way toward assuaging their fears that he would be so eager to run away from his paternal family’s Muslim roots and to woo skeptical American Jews that he would not be “the honest broker” they long for after W.’s crazed missionary work in the Middle East.” As I noted yesterday, the more Obama plays moral relativist and encourages such a perspective among Arab leaders the more worry sets in for those concerned about Israel’s fate.

Ya think there might be problems achieving universal health care coverage without a massive tax increase, limits on choice and suppressing medical innovation? Who’d have thought?

Funny how we didn’t hear much about this on the evening news. You mean Sunnis took up arms against Al Qaeda once they understood America’s troops would defend them? Obama seems to think they just “awoke” on their own.

My only comment on this: if true, Elizabeth should get every square inch of the 28,200 feet. Too bad she can’t get back the months of such precious time she sacrificed on the campaign trail.

So many reasons to explain Obama-mania among the media, but odd how Dee Dee Myers doesn’t raise ideology. Was there a Democratic presidential candidate whom the MSM didn’t favor? Ever? (Yeah, not this badly but I’m not sure they ever had such a perfect embodiment of their elite, internationalist, post-modernist mindset.)

Worry in the left blogoshphere –the homefront might not be impressed with Great Man’s overseas trip. Warning to all McCaniacs: individual state polls have the steadiness of a ping-pong ball in a hurricane. It does raise the possibility, however, that Americans in the heartland paying $4 for gas don’t care if Obama met with King Abdullah. (I really am waiting for the enterprising reporter who interviews some blue collar worker in Youngstown after Obama speaks to a million screaming Germans in front of the Prussian victory column and asks what he thinks. Will he be impressed or horrified?)

Dead right: “Poor John McCain. He’s so last-century. Still living in a world in which deeds matter, policies matter, what you would actually do with the power entrusted to you matters. . .McCain’s approach is all so, well, cognitive. McCain thinks that reality is something that really exists, that has to be dealt with, instead of recognizing that we live in a Brave New World where highly paid symbolic analysts construct reality by manipulating symbols.”

“War is a contest of character,” as Steve Koehl eloquently explains. But do Americans think of themselves as being at war? And do they value character or only celebrity? I’d like to think “yes” to both but I’m not confident of either.

The Washington Post editors are at it again — being smart and sober. Are they going to endorse Obama anyway in the fall? It would seem hard to do after so many smart op-eds.

Katie Couric did her job yesterday. If Barack Obama can’t answer Katie Couric’s concerns, there may be hope for John McCain yet.

Not the Great Depression? Harumph!

Rooting for America isn’t the problem –it’s rooting for one candidate while masquerading as an impartial journalist that is the problem.

If it is to be believed this is just the thing to panic supporters of Israel: “A member of the king’s inner circle who attended the chicken-and-rice dinner with King Abdullah and Queen Rania said that Obama had gone a long way toward assuaging their fears that he would be so eager to run away from his paternal family’s Muslim roots and to woo skeptical American Jews that he would not be “the honest broker” they long for after W.’s crazed missionary work in the Middle East.” As I noted yesterday, the more Obama plays moral relativist and encourages such a perspective among Arab leaders the more worry sets in for those concerned about Israel’s fate.

Ya think there might be problems achieving universal health care coverage without a massive tax increase, limits on choice and suppressing medical innovation? Who’d have thought?

Funny how we didn’t hear much about this on the evening news. You mean Sunnis took up arms against Al Qaeda once they understood America’s troops would defend them? Obama seems to think they just “awoke” on their own.

My only comment on this: if true, Elizabeth should get every square inch of the 28,200 feet. Too bad she can’t get back the months of such precious time she sacrificed on the campaign trail.

So many reasons to explain Obama-mania among the media, but odd how Dee Dee Myers doesn’t raise ideology. Was there a Democratic presidential candidate whom the MSM didn’t favor? Ever? (Yeah, not this badly but I’m not sure they ever had such a perfect embodiment of their elite, internationalist, post-modernist mindset.)

Worry in the left blogoshphere –the homefront might not be impressed with Great Man’s overseas trip. Warning to all McCaniacs: individual state polls have the steadiness of a ping-pong ball in a hurricane. It does raise the possibility, however, that Americans in the heartland paying $4 for gas don’t care if Obama met with King Abdullah. (I really am waiting for the enterprising reporter who interviews some blue collar worker in Youngstown after Obama speaks to a million screaming Germans in front of the Prussian victory column and asks what he thinks. Will he be impressed or horrified?)

Dead right: “Poor John McCain. He’s so last-century. Still living in a world in which deeds matter, policies matter, what you would actually do with the power entrusted to you matters. . .McCain’s approach is all so, well, cognitive. McCain thinks that reality is something that really exists, that has to be dealt with, instead of recognizing that we live in a Brave New World where highly paid symbolic analysts construct reality by manipulating symbols.”

“War is a contest of character,” as Steve Koehl eloquently explains. But do Americans think of themselves as being at war? And do they value character or only celebrity? I’d like to think “yes” to both but I’m not confident of either.

The Washington Post editors are at it again — being smart and sober. Are they going to endorse Obama anyway in the fall? It would seem hard to do after so many smart op-eds.

Read Less

Finally, The Reckoning

The Washington Post editors make the same point made by many around here: Iraqi leaders and, more importantly,  our military commanders don’t agree with Barack Obama on the fixed timetable for withdrawal. The Post editors actually paid attention to what people were saying, concluding:

So it seems worthwhile to point out that, by Mr. Obama’s own account, neither U.S. commanders nor Iraq’s principal political leaders actually support his strategy.

But the Post didn’t stop there:

Mr. Obama’s response is that, as president, he would have to weigh Iraq’s needs against those of Afghanistan and the U.S. economy. He says that because Iraq is “a distraction” from more important problems, U.S. resources devoted to it must be curtailed. Yet he also says his aim is to “succeed in leaving Iraq to a sovereign government that can take responsibility for its own future.” What if Gen. Petraeus and Iraqi leaders are right that this goal is not consistent with a 16-month timetable? Will Iraq be written off because Mr. Obama does not consider it important enough — or will the strategy be altered?

(Taken to it’s logical extreme the economic argument it is madness, of course. If Obama wants to spend a billion more on health care do the troops have to come home in 15 months?) And what does the Post think of Obama’s overall vision?

Yet Mr. Obama’s account of his strategic vision remains eccentric. He insists that Afghanistan is “the central front” for the United States, along with the border areas of Pakistan. But there are no known al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, and any additional U.S. forces sent there would not be able to operate in the Pakistani territories where Osama bin Laden is headquartered. While the United States has an interest in preventing the resurgence of the Afghan Taliban, the country’s strategic importance pales beside that of Iraq, which lies at the geopolitical center of the Middle East and contains some of the world’s largest oil reserves. If Mr. Obama’s antiwar stance has blinded him to those realities, that could prove far more debilitating to him as president than any particular timetable.

In short, the Post tells us Obama is and was wrong about everything that matters: the surge, the timetable, the importance of Iraq, the relationship between Iraq and Afghanistan and the impact of victory (or defeat) in Iraq. It is stark, it is unforgiving and it is accurate.

Now the question remains whether the rest of the MSM can pause from their infatuation with Obama to report the degree to which Obama’s views conflict not just with the best military advice, but common sense and geopolitical reality. (If Katie Couric and the Post can do it, they should be able to as well.) Never before, in the middle of a war, has a presidential candidate said that he wished we hadn’t avoided defeat and that a victory is isn’t valuable. The Post seemed to have noticed.

The Washington Post editors make the same point made by many around here: Iraqi leaders and, more importantly,  our military commanders don’t agree with Barack Obama on the fixed timetable for withdrawal. The Post editors actually paid attention to what people were saying, concluding:

So it seems worthwhile to point out that, by Mr. Obama’s own account, neither U.S. commanders nor Iraq’s principal political leaders actually support his strategy.

But the Post didn’t stop there:

Mr. Obama’s response is that, as president, he would have to weigh Iraq’s needs against those of Afghanistan and the U.S. economy. He says that because Iraq is “a distraction” from more important problems, U.S. resources devoted to it must be curtailed. Yet he also says his aim is to “succeed in leaving Iraq to a sovereign government that can take responsibility for its own future.” What if Gen. Petraeus and Iraqi leaders are right that this goal is not consistent with a 16-month timetable? Will Iraq be written off because Mr. Obama does not consider it important enough — or will the strategy be altered?

(Taken to it’s logical extreme the economic argument it is madness, of course. If Obama wants to spend a billion more on health care do the troops have to come home in 15 months?) And what does the Post think of Obama’s overall vision?

Yet Mr. Obama’s account of his strategic vision remains eccentric. He insists that Afghanistan is “the central front” for the United States, along with the border areas of Pakistan. But there are no known al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, and any additional U.S. forces sent there would not be able to operate in the Pakistani territories where Osama bin Laden is headquartered. While the United States has an interest in preventing the resurgence of the Afghan Taliban, the country’s strategic importance pales beside that of Iraq, which lies at the geopolitical center of the Middle East and contains some of the world’s largest oil reserves. If Mr. Obama’s antiwar stance has blinded him to those realities, that could prove far more debilitating to him as president than any particular timetable.

In short, the Post tells us Obama is and was wrong about everything that matters: the surge, the timetable, the importance of Iraq, the relationship between Iraq and Afghanistan and the impact of victory (or defeat) in Iraq. It is stark, it is unforgiving and it is accurate.

Now the question remains whether the rest of the MSM can pause from their infatuation with Obama to report the degree to which Obama’s views conflict not just with the best military advice, but common sense and geopolitical reality. (If Katie Couric and the Post can do it, they should be able to as well.) Never before, in the middle of a war, has a presidential candidate said that he wished we hadn’t avoided defeat and that a victory is isn’t valuable. The Post seemed to have noticed.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.