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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 8-Jul-2008
Obama "refines" his Iraq position, reflecting major change

Web Log - July, 2008

Obama "refines" his Iraq position, reflecting major change

Expect a lot more "refinements" to come

Barack Obama insisted this week that he hasn't changed his position on the Iraq war, only refined it.

Actually, it was a fairly dramatic change. He's previously demanded that President Bush "bring the troops home NOW," then said that as President he'd have them out in 2009, then within 16 months. And now he's refining his 16 month claim.

Ted Koppel on <i>This Week With George Stephanopoulos</i> <font size=-2>(Source: ABC)</font>
Ted Koppel on This Week With George Stephanopoulos (Source: ABC)

According to veteran news reporter Ted Koppel, appearing on Sunday on This Week With George Stephanopoulos, Obama will have to make many more refinements:

George Stephanopoulos: "It does look as if Barack Obama is in a double bind. If he does have a huge shift in emphasis, people will say he's unprincipled, he's coming off his positions. If he doesn't, he gets accusing of being out of touch, not listening to what's going on, not watching what's going on on the ground in Iraq."

Ted Koppel: "You know George, you said we were going to get to the energy thing later. Let me suggest we get to the energy thing right away.

I think Senator Obama's advisors have conveyed to him what I'm sure he has known all along. And that is that US troops are in a part of the world that produces -- not the majority -- but a huge amount of oil and natural gas. We will have US troops in that region for years to come, whether we want to or not. And I think Senator Obama has come to that realization, has come to realize that you cannot pull all the troops out of Iraq unless you put them somewhere else.

You talked a little bit about Iran, and about the dangers in Iran. This is not a time to be saying, "Yes, we're going to pull all the US troops out of there, come what may."

Stephanopoulos: "He's always said there's going to be some residual force in Iraq."

Koppel: "But I think people believed he was talking about maybe 20, 30, 40,000. I think you're going to have 80-100,000 troops in there 3-5 years from now. ...

And with the price of oil going up to $4.50 a gallon, imagine what would happen to the price of oil if we precipitously pulled troops out of the Persian Gulf. It's not going to happen."

That's one of many reasons why removing the troops from the Persian Gulf region could be disastrous. As I've said for many years, my expectation is that the troops will remain in Iraq until we HAVE to pull them out because of the Clash of Civilizations world war.

It's worth stopping a moment here, and comparing the political process today to the political process that was going on in 2002, prior to the Iraq ground invasion.

I've had about five people in the last month criticize me for something that I've been saying for years, most recently in my detailed Iraq war analysis in February: That if Al Gore had been President after 9/11, he certainly would have pursued the same Iraq policy, and we'd be in the same place as we are today.

I'll just briefly summarize the reasons again:

People who call themselves "antiwar" today have very short memories. Overwhelmingly, they and the general public and the politicians favored the Iraq war when they thought it was popular, they equivocated (as John Kerry did in 2004) when they weren't sure, they were opposed when it went poorly and became unpopular, and now, with the war going well after the "surge," there's an embarrassed silence.

If Obama has difficulty dealing with the Iraq issue today, the left-wing Democrats have no one to blame but themselves. They disgraced themselves early in 2007 by committing their careers to America's failure and humiliation. Democratic party sites like were populated by hard-left Gen-X nihilists almost determined to destroy the Democratic party by trying to force Congress into disastrous "antiwar" positions, such as ending all funding for the Iraq war. Many of these positions were close to treason. This continued even when the news showed signs of improvement, as when the "Anbar Awakening" began taking effect.

Now the Democrats in general, and Obama in particular, have to live those positions. They made huge bets that the "surge" would completely fail, and that America would be humiliated in Iraq, and now they have to answer for their bad judgment.

That's why Obama is now forced to "refine" his position. He was so totally committed to American failure in Iraq that he's going to have difficulty extricating himself.

Ironically, Obama's supposed allies on the left are going to make it even more difficult for him. Obama is trying to "move to the center" in order to win the votes of independent voters in the general election, but his hard-left allies are trying to prevent him from doing that.

Almost as shocking to them as his shifting position on Iraq is his new support of the "FISA" bill, allowing warrantless telephone wiretapping of foreign terrorists.

Thus, left-wing blogger Arianna Huffington said that Obama's move to the center was "Realstupidpolitik," and that "Moving to the middle is for losers."

Similarly, MSNBC's nutjob Keith Olbermann, who has been as committed as anyone to wanting America to be humiliated in Iraq, referred to the "FISA" bill that Obama is now supporting as "fascism."

So now let's compare George Bush in 2002 with Barack Obama today.

In 2002, Bush moved toward the ground invasion of Iraq because he was inclined to, and because the public overwhelmingly supported it. A President Gore would have done exactly the same thing.

Today, Obama has to move towards the center. In the case of Iraq, that means leaving the troops there as long as necessary to get the job done.

Obama's disadvantage, compared to Bush in 2002, is that Obama has a small cadre of hard-left activists determined to punish him for any move toward the center. So Obama MUST move toward the center, but the activists of his own party will make him pay for it.

Obama's success as a candidate this year is not dependent on having the totally inflexible hard-left view of the Iraq war. He's successful because Generation-Xers love his contempt for Boomer and Silent generation values. And most young people (unless they have a friend or family member there) couldn't find Iraq on a map, let alone care what happens there.

If Obama had the same political freedom to follow the public mood that Bush had in 2002, then Obama would "refine" his position suitably and probably win without a problem. He may still win, but his candidacy is being threatened by a small group of hard-left nihilistic Generation-Xer activists. Those activists may cause him to lose the election.

But win or lose, what happens in Iraq next year will not depend on what Barack Obama or John McCain or any politician wants. It will depend on the what the masses of people want, here and in the Mideast, and the consequences will almost certainly not be what anyone expects. (8-Jul-2008) Permanent Link
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