The New York Post reported today that during his July trip to Baghdad, Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama, while “campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq . . . tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.” This report, by Amir Taheri, cites Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as the source of this accusation.
According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.
In discussing Obama’s position, Taheri writes:
Though Obama claims the US presence is “illegal,” he suddenly remembered that Americans troops were in Iraq within the legal framework of a UN mandate. His advice was that, rather than reach an accord with the “weakened Bush administration,” Iraq should seek an extension of the UN mandate.
Such an extension is due in December of 2008 and is likely to be granted anyway according to Taheri. Taheri also writes that Obama tried to persuade U.S. commanders including Gen. David Petraeus to suggest a “realistic withdrawal date.” Taheri explains that a delay in negotiating a troop agreement would be significant given the U.S. and Iraqi election timelines that would have to be taken into consideration.
Towards the end of his report, Taheri writes:
Obama has given Iraqis the impression that he doesn’t want Iraq to appear anything like a success, let alone a victory, for America. The reason? He fears that the perception of US victory there might revive the Bush Doctrine of “pre-emptive” war – that is, removing a threat before it strikes at America.
Despite some usual equivocations on the subject, Obama rejects pre-emption as a legitimate form of self-defense. To be credible, his foreign-policy philosophy requires Iraq to be seen as a failure, a disaster, a quagmire, a pig with lipstick or any of the other apocalyptic adjectives used by the American defeat industry in the past five years.
Obama’s consistant anti-war stance has made victory more difficult for our forces to achieve. As Taheri correctly notes in his report and most left-leaning commentators and politicians conveniently ignore, this war is not an “illegal war.” While I maintain that the United States has a duty to protect Americans even under circumstances that could require unilateral or pre-emptive actions, there is a UN mandate that provides a legal framework for coalition involvement in Iraq. Obama’s statements are damaging and muddying the waters. They are hurting American efforts to provide security for the Iraqi people.
Even more troubling to me is the way Obama is treating American forces and our national security. His statements demanding a calendar date to end this war gives terrorists/insurgents a specific time they view as our surrender date. If they can just hold out past that date they will win and they know that. That knowledge brings encouragement to them which means Obama’s statements are helping the enemy strengthen their resolve and hope of living to kill another day.