Tommy was kind enough to part ways with his Tonka Trucks and run inside to be with the grown ups yesterday, and guess what!?!?!? He has something important to say!
In 2003, the United States, under President Bush, invaded Iraq to change the regime. Terrible postwar execution and unrelenting attempts by Al Qaeda to provoke a Sunni-Shiite civil war turned the Iraqi geopolitical space into a different problem — a maelstrom of violence for four years, with U.S. troops caught in the middle. A huge price was paid by Iraqis and Americans. This was the Iraq that Barack Obama ran against.
In the last year, though, the U.S. troop surge and the backlash from moderate Iraqi Sunnis against Al Qaeda and Iraqi Shiites against pro-Iranian extremists have brought a new measure of stability to Iraq. There is now, for the first time, a chance — still only a chance — that a reasonably stable democratizing government, though no doubt corrupt in places, can take root in the Iraqi political space.
Uh, nope. Obama ran against the very idea that we went there in the first place. He got his street cred from speaking at a rally when he was a nobody with no burden to vote or knowledge of the intelligence a Senator has access to. Whatever criticisms he levied were not rooted in knowledge but in ideology and political posturing. He not only opposed the surge and argued that any sectarian bloodbath which might ensue if we left was fine by him but refused to acknowledge the success of the surge, acknowledge the heavy moral component to our engagement there in the first place or so much as think in terms of victory.
The fact that Obama has talked tough re: Pakistan is merely a variant on the standard rhetorical ploys of the left. The old "the sanctions on Iraq are killing children/what's that? Depose Saddam?/The sanctions on Iraq are working" shuffle.
Like an opportunistic dillhole, Friedman is doing the little boy's work of returning to the scene of an intervention he advocated but hiding behind the skirt of someone who opposed the bad stuff which ensued, just like he did, and pretending that the two positions were borne of comparable insights.
That is the Iraq that Obama is inheriting. It is an Iraq where we have to begin drawing down our troops — because the occupation has gone on too long and because we have now committed to do so by treaty — but it is also an Iraq that has the potential to eventually tilt the Arab-Muslim world in a different direction.
I’m sure that Obama, whatever he said during the campaign, will play this smart. He has to avoid giving Iraqi leaders the feeling that Bush did — that he’ll wait forever for them to sort out their politics — while also not suggesting that he is leaving tomorrow, so they all start stockpiling weapons.
If he can pull this off, and help that decent Iraq take root, Obama and the Democrats could not only end the Iraq war but salvage something positive from it. Nothing would do more to enhance the Democratic Party’s national security credentials than that.
This is where I lose my lunch. The Iraq that Obama is inheriting is in no way to his credit. And when Friedman assures us that the Lightworker will play this smart, what he of course means is that Obama now has the burden of being a grown up. The left could blame Bush for rendition in spite of it being a practice which predated his administration. They could raise holy hell about Guantanamo and FISA when they were abstract principles rather than a function of their burden to keep Americans safe. They could call Bush a liar for faulty intelligence in spite of concurrence among our putative allies, even those who opposed our "illegal invasion" to enforce UN resolutions which were the result of a cease fire agreement when Clinton bombed the shit out of the country not long before.
Only the left could argue that this whole venture was an unholy corporate venture for oil and simultaneously rant about Iraq's massive oil revenue surplus while we foot the bill for their reconstruction. These people are a gaggle of hideous emotional infants.
Nothing which transpires from here on in will enhance the Democrats' national security credentials. They forfeited any pretense of it with eight years of bad faith and ill will. History will be the final judge for Bush, but for a weasel like Friedman who is trying to have it both ways the judgment is already in.