Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
"The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down."
Click here for the full text.
Monday, July 14, 2008
My Plan for Iraq
THE call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.
The differences on Iraq in this campaign are deep. Unlike Senator John McCain, I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president. I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have died and we have spent nearly $1 trillion. Our military is overstretched. Nearly every threat we face — from Afghanistan to Al Qaeda to Iran — has grown.
In the 18 months since President Bush announced the surge, our troops have performed heroically in bringing down the level of violence. New tactics have protected the Iraqi population, and the Sunni tribes have rejected Al Qaeda — greatly weakening its effectiveness.
But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we’ve spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq’s leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge.
The good news is that Iraq’s leaders want to take responsibility for their country by negotiating a timetable for the removal of American troops. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. James Dubik, the American officer in charge of training Iraq’s security forces, estimates that the Iraqi Army and police will be ready to assume responsibility for security in 2009.
Only by redeploying our troops can we press the Iraqis to reach comprehensive political accommodation and achieve a successful transition to Iraqis’ taking responsibility for the security and stability of their country. Instead of seizing the moment and encouraging Iraqis to step up, the Bush administration and Senator McCain are refusing to embrace this transition — despite their previous commitments to respect the will of Iraq’s sovereign government. They call any timetable for the removal of American troops “surrender,” even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government.
But this is not a strategy for success — it is a strategy for staying that runs contrary to the will of the Iraqi people, the American people and the security interests of the United States. That is why, on my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war.
As I’ve said many times, we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 — two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal.
In carrying out this strategy, we would inevitably need to make tactical adjustments. As I have often said, I would consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government to ensure that our troops were redeployed safely, and our interests protected. We would move them from secure areas first and volatile areas later. We would pursue a diplomatic offensive with every nation in the region on behalf of Iraq’s stability, and commit $2 billion to a new international effort to support Iraq’s refugees.
Ending the war is essential to meeting our broader strategic goals, starting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and Al Qaeda has a safe haven. Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been. As Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently pointed out, we won’t have sufficient resources to finish the job in Afghanistan until we reduce our commitment to Iraq.
As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there. I would not hold our military, our resources and our foreign policy hostage to a misguided desire to maintain permanent bases in Iraq.
In this campaign, there are honest differences over Iraq, and we should discuss them with the thoroughness they deserve. Unlike Senator McCain, I would make it absolutely clear that we seek no presence in Iraq similar to our permanent bases in South Korea, and would redeploy our troops out of Iraq and focus on the broader security challenges that we face. But for far too long, those responsible for the greatest strategic blunder in the recent history of American foreign policy have ignored useful debate in favor of making false charges about flip-flops and surrender.
It’s not going to work this time. It’s time to end this war.
Barack Obama, a United States senator from Illinois, is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
A lot can happen in 24 hours...
A day ago, Barack Obama was still taking heavy fire for--depending on who you ask--"flip-flopping," "lurching, or "zig-zagging" toward the center of the electorate.
Thankfully for the Obama camp, Iran test-fired missiles, at least one of them possibly digital, and then Jesse Jackson got caught on a hot mic.
For a few hours at least, the heat is off Obama, or at least the heat from the mainstream news. Perhaps he can use this opportunity to say something to reinvigorate his base.
While we wait for that to happen, allow me toaddress the top two counterarguments that I've been hearing about the recent criticism of Barack Obama.
1.) Barack Obama needs to move to the center to get elected.
Actually, no, he doesn't. John McCain is the weakest Republican candidate for president in a generation. The Republican party is arguably at its weakest point in two generations. This is an unprecedented opportunity for a Democrat to obtain the White House behind a genuine, progressive Democratic policy.
2.) Barack Obama has never been that far left. Read his books.
Nobody is claiming that Obama used to be Ralph Nader and now he's John Kerry. Supporters are upset about his centrist leanings on a handful of key issues: Iraq, gun control, capital punishment, and wire tapping. Not to mention his downright conservative leanings on faith-based initiatives.
So while the mainstream press churns forward, lambasting Jesse Jackson and analyzing Iran scenarios, I'll linger on a question from yesterday: What happened to the real Barack Obama, and will he be back in time for the debates?
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
New York Times readers responded vigorously to the July 4th editorial criticizing Barack Obama. Their letters to the editor are worth reading:
Re “New and Not Improved” (editorial, July 4):
There is something very important that Barack Obama and his advisers need to understand. Senator Obama could lose the election this fall if he squanders the support of people like us, who have high hopes for him and send modest and frequent donations to his campaign.
We realize that in today’s world, we may never see a real “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”-type candidate. But if the choice in November is between two different takes on same old, same old, there is a strong possibility that we may just not vote. Mel Minthorn
Wilton, Conn., July 4, 2008
To the Editor:
I share your disappointment with the “New and Not Improved” Barack Obama.
As a 60-year-old white woman who should have been firmly in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s camp, I eschewed her triangulating for the promise of a politician who promised to restore the Constitution and govern the country for the common good, not just for a wealthy elite.
It is particularly disheartening that on our nation’s birthday, a progressive Democratic candidate cannot find the courage to uphold the vision of the founding fathers against an overbearing state and instead feels moved to support warrantless wiretapping and telecom amnesty.
His disheartened supporters are beginning to see that “Change We Can Believe In” is really “Change When It’s Expedient.” Barbara Kautz
Tiburon, Calif., July 4, 2008
To the Editor:
Your excellent editorial was not strong enough. Barack Obama is in a process of betraying those who voted for him in the primary.
The Democrats have no one in leadership who genuinely leans to the left. Mr. Obama has been a little left of center on some issues, thus making him the only candidate that a good leftist could even consider.
We believed him when he talked about change. But he is showing himself not to be a man of integrity, but an opportunist, like the rest. Too bad. Hope springs eternal — but not in 2008.
Andrew P. Connolly
Manorhaven, N.Y., July 4, 2008
To the Editor:
I’m getting very frustrated with the media response to Barack Obama. I don’t agree with him on everything, not by a long shot. He’s not changing his stripes. He’s just saying what he’s said all along.
He is not an extreme liberal, but a moderate liberal, and always has been.
I disagree with his position on gay marriage, the border fence, the death penalty, gun control and his vote on the FISA bill.
I still support him enthusiastically because he is far and away the most intelligent, reasonable, far-seeing candidate we have had in a long time.
Yes, the ultraprogressive blogs are hammering him now — and believe me, I’ve let them know how I feel, too. But opinions on individual policies are one thing. Condemning him for straight talk is another.
He has not changed: the stars in your eyes have dimmed enough to see his real views. Karen Pettengill
Greenfield, Mass., July 5, 2008
To the Editor:
We don’t worry about Senator Barack Obama’s changing his mind or position on Iraq and/or other issues. Changing one’s mind with better information is a virtue, not a weakness, and an ability to adapt is a sign of a thinking person. Lord knows we need a president who is strong and flexible.
The problem with the Bush administration is that President Bush never seems to be willing to change his stance or his policies when presented with new information. That is a sign of stubbornness and weakness.
We are tired of all the accusations of “flip-flop” behavior when one of the candidates rethinks an issue and changes or modifies his position.
Glendale, Wis., July 5, 2008
To the Editor:
I agree that it is most disillusioning to see Senator Barack Obama go back on so many of his principled campaign positions, undermining our trust in him as a “man of passionate convictions who did not play old political games.”
Mr. Obama is not yet the Democratic Party nominee for president, and the reality is — it’s not over till it’s over. He should keep in mind that, even now, there are other viable candidates out there who would be ready, able and willing to stand up if chosen to do so.
Tuckahoe, N.Y., July 4, 2008
To the Editor:
Your editorial seems surprised that Barack Obama has shifted positions on so many important issues.
What surprised me most during the primaries was the group euphoria among the media and many Democrats for his candidacy. Most of these people were taken in by his soaring rhetoric and lofty proposals.
But these same people failed to examine his record in Chicago, a city not known for genteel politics or honest politicians. Or perhaps they chose to ignore it. If they had bothered to look, they would have found a crafty politician who made calculating choices from the very beginning.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has asked her supporters to endorse Mr. Obama. Although I cannot vote for John McCain, neither can I cast my vote for Senator Obama. He is a roll of the dice, and I’m not a gambler. Laura Stern
New York, July 4, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
The DNCC confirmed today that Barack Obama will deliver his nomination acceptance speech at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium on the final night of the convention, August 28, 2008.
Detailed press release here.
Friday, July 4, 2008
"We are not shocked when a candidate moves to the center for the general election. But Mr. Obama’s shifts are striking because he was the candidate who proposed to change the face of politics, the man of passionate convictions who did not play old political games.
I've supported Obama from the beginning, and I'll continue to support him. But considering the not-so-subtle shifts in his rhetoric, mere weeks after winning a historically close primary, this backlash is much deserved. Cheers to the New York Times for calling him out:
"There are still vital differences between Mr. Obama and Senator John McCain on issues like the war in Iraq, taxes, health care and Supreme Court nominations. We don’t want any “redefining” on these big questions. This country needs change it can believe in."
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
It strikes me as absolutely absurd that Obama would have to defend his patriotism. The man is running for president, which is an amazingly strenuous act of patriotic faith. Either way, here's what he has to say about his patriotism.