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August 11, 2007
Reuel Marc Gerecht on Obama
In today's Weekly Standard, Reuel Marc Gerecht has an article showing Senator Obama to be something of an empty suit when it comes to foreign policy:
But its bellicosity aside, Obama's speech, if seen through Middle Eastern eyes, leaves one dumbstruck. Consider first its operational implications. For Obama, fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq is almost counterproductive, while fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is good. Al Qaeda in Iraq was born in sin because it "didn't exist before our invasion." Al Qaeda in Central Asia and the subcontinent has, for the senator, a cleaner pedigree, traceable directly to Osama bin Laden. But what in the world do the circumstances of birth have to do with counterterrorism? Obama trails Hillary Clinton by a 2-1 margin most national polls and he's running out of time to catch up. His recent foreign policy gaffes have revealed a callow man who either didn't think through his policy proposals or worse, actually believes his prescriptions won't harm American interests. Gerecht zeroes in on some of the many contradictions Obama can't seem to avoid:
Let us leave aside the controversy over whether al Qaeda had training camps in Iraq while Saddam Hussein ruled. Could it not have developed such camps since? Could they not develop even now in the Sunni zones of Iraq, especially if the United States withdraws and the Sunni-Shiite clash intensifies? Until recently--until the surge--the Sunnis of Anbar Province did not do particularly well at corralling, let alone killing and exiling, Iraqi and foreign members of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The Sunnis of Iraq--the now vaunted anti-al Qaeda tribes of Anbar Province--are barely more unified than the Shiites. Al Qaeda has done rather well in Iraq precisely because many Iraqi Sunnis have been sympathetic to its methods and tactics, against both the Americans and the Arab Shiites.
Obama says of Iraq that we are in "a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences." But this is the case also with Afghanistan. Unless we plan on losing, we are probably going to be there for a long time. U.S. soldiers are going to die there for years. Afghanistan's politics, which are easily as complicated as Iraq's, are going to remain a corrupt mess no matter what America does on the battlefield. Does Obama really think that two brigades pulled from Iraq are going to make all the difference in Afghanistan, whose brutal topography swallows up manpower as effectively as the jungles of Vietnam? Does the senator doubt that the American occupation of Afghanistan angers millions of devout Sunni Muslims, especially those most likely to answer the call to holy war? There has been some discussion recently about whether Obama is hurting his future chances for high office by exposing himself and his faults to this kind of scrutiny. My feeling is that liberals are basically a forgiving lot and as long as Obama doesn't get too far off the left wing reservation, he will be a viable candidate well into the future.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky