Iraqi Foriegn Minister Lectures Obama about "new realities"

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Barack Obama had a conversation this week in which the presidential candidate said he would be visiting Iraq before the election. This is welcome news because as the Washington Post says in this editorial, it's about time for Obama to change his outdated views on what is happening in Iraq:

Mr. Zebari, who has served as foreign minister in every Iraqi government since 2003, finds Mr. Obama's proposal worrying. In a meeting with Post editors and reporters Tuesday, he said that after all the pain and sacrifices of the past five years, "we are just turning the corner in Iraq." A precipitous withdrawal, he said, "would create a huge vacuum and undo all the gains and achievements. And the others" -- enemies of the United States -- "would celebrate."

Mr. Zebari said he told Mr. Obama that "Iraq is not an island." In other words, an American withdrawal that destabilized the country would also roil the region around it and embolden U.S. adversaries such as al-Qaeda and Iran. "We have a deadly enemy," Mr. Zebari said. "When he sees that you commit yourself to a certain timetable, he will use this to increase pressure and attacks, to make it look as though he is forcing you out. We have many actors who would love to take advantage of that opportunity." Mr. Zebari says he believes U.S. forces can and should be drawn down. His point is that reductions should be made gradually, as the Iraqi army becomes stronger.

The foreign minister said "my message" to Mr. Obama "was very clear. . . . Really, we are making progress. I hope any actions you will take will not endanger this progress." He said he was reassured by the candidate's response, which caused him to think that Mr. Obama might not differ all that much from Mr. McCain. Mr. Zebari said that in addition to promising a visit, Mr. Obama said that "if there would be a Democratic administration, it will not take any irresponsible, reckless, sudden decisions or action to endanger your gains, your achievements, your stability or security. Whatever decision he will reach will be made through close consultation with the Iraqi government and U.S. military commanders in the field."

Are these just pleasant noises being made by Obama for the benefit of Zebari? Or is he truly serious about abandoning his stupid, self defeating "timetable" and allowing events on the ground to dictate policy?

We have had hints that Obama is merely throwing red meat to the left wing of his party when he talks about his draconian timetable for withdrawing a combat brigade or two a month. His sort of former aide Samantha Powers let on that he didn't really mean he would withdraw all troops in 16 months, that it was simply a "best case scenario" for withdrawal.

Everyone with an ounce of sense knows that Obama won't be able to deliver on his outdated promises to withdraw American troops so precipitously. Why then can't Obama and McCain have a true debate about our mission in Iraq and its future? Because any deviation - any retreat by Obama from his stated goal of bringing the troops home will be met with cries of outrage from the defeatists in his own party. So the charade of withdrawal will continue until election day.

At that point, Mr. Obama may look silly indeed if improvements in Iraqi security and reconciliation continue at the pace they are on now.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky

UPDATE

Jennifer Rubin of Commentary found a discrepancy between Obama's version of his conversation and the one given by the Iraqi Foreign Minister:

Obama said that Zebari didn't express any concern about Obama's immediate withdrawal plans. Well, according to Zebari that is a lie.

[snip]

There seems little reason for Zebari to lie about his private meeting with Obama. That leaves us to conclude that Obama either didn't listen to or didn't understand what Zebari said or misrepresented what he heard from the Foreign Minister. That is deeply troubling. An explanation seems in order from Obama.
Ed Lasky adds:



So what can we expect of President Obama's negotiations with Ahmadinejad-will he paste a happy face on those talks?

And some may wonder why experience matters?
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Barack Obama had a conversation this week in which the presidential candidate said he would be visiting Iraq before the election. This is welcome news because as the Washington Post says in this editorial, it's about time for Obama to change his outdated views on what is happening in Iraq:

Mr. Zebari, who has served as foreign minister in every Iraqi government since 2003, finds Mr. Obama's proposal worrying. In a meeting with Post editors and reporters Tuesday, he said that after all the pain and sacrifices of the past five years, "we are just turning the corner in Iraq." A precipitous withdrawal, he said, "would create a huge vacuum and undo all the gains and achievements. And the others" -- enemies of the United States -- "would celebrate."

Mr. Zebari said he told Mr. Obama that "Iraq is not an island." In other words, an American withdrawal that destabilized the country would also roil the region around it and embolden U.S. adversaries such as al-Qaeda and Iran. "We have a deadly enemy," Mr. Zebari said. "When he sees that you commit yourself to a certain timetable, he will use this to increase pressure and attacks, to make it look as though he is forcing you out. We have many actors who would love to take advantage of that opportunity." Mr. Zebari says he believes U.S. forces can and should be drawn down. His point is that reductions should be made gradually, as the Iraqi army becomes stronger.

The foreign minister said "my message" to Mr. Obama "was very clear. . . . Really, we are making progress. I hope any actions you will take will not endanger this progress." He said he was reassured by the candidate's response, which caused him to think that Mr. Obama might not differ all that much from Mr. McCain. Mr. Zebari said that in addition to promising a visit, Mr. Obama said that "if there would be a Democratic administration, it will not take any irresponsible, reckless, sudden decisions or action to endanger your gains, your achievements, your stability or security. Whatever decision he will reach will be made through close consultation with the Iraqi government and U.S. military commanders in the field."

Are these just pleasant noises being made by Obama for the benefit of Zebari? Or is he truly serious about abandoning his stupid, self defeating "timetable" and allowing events on the ground to dictate policy?

We have had hints that Obama is merely throwing red meat to the left wing of his party when he talks about his draconian timetable for withdrawing a combat brigade or two a month. His sort of former aide Samantha Powers let on that he didn't really mean he would withdraw all troops in 16 months, that it was simply a "best case scenario" for withdrawal.

Everyone with an ounce of sense knows that Obama won't be able to deliver on his outdated promises to withdraw American troops so precipitously. Why then can't Obama and McCain have a true debate about our mission in Iraq and its future? Because any deviation - any retreat by Obama from his stated goal of bringing the troops home will be met with cries of outrage from the defeatists in his own party. So the charade of withdrawal will continue until election day.

At that point, Mr. Obama may look silly indeed if improvements in Iraqi security and reconciliation continue at the pace they are on now.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky

UPDATE

Jennifer Rubin of Commentary found a discrepancy between Obama's version of his conversation and the one given by the Iraqi Foreign Minister:

Obama said that Zebari didn't express any concern about Obama's immediate withdrawal plans. Well, according to Zebari that is a lie.

[snip]

There seems little reason for Zebari to lie about his private meeting with Obama. That leaves us to conclude that Obama either didn't listen to or didn't understand what Zebari said or misrepresented what he heard from the Foreign Minister. That is deeply troubling. An explanation seems in order from Obama.
Ed Lasky adds:



So what can we expect of President Obama's negotiations with Ahmadinejad-will he paste a happy face on those talks?

And some may wonder why experience matters?