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.