Well, Senator Obama has announced his plan to end the war in Iraq. And it’s rather… um… worthy of discussion.
Obama’s plan is based on four points:
1. “Immediately begin to pull out troops engaged in combat operations at a pace of one or two brigades every month, to be completed by the end of next year.”
Also known as “surrender on the installment plan.” This gives the enemy a nice little calendar they can mark off. All they have to do is hang on a little longer, and they can declare victory by default.
2. “Call for a new constitutional convention in Iraq, convened with the United Nations, which would not adjourn until Iraq’s leaders reach a new accord on reconciliation.”
Would this be the same UN that oversaw the Oil For Food program, also known as “Saddam’s license to bribe people around the world?” The same UN that mocked US offers for security in the early days of the occupation, then ran like hell when they were attacked? The same UN that has so little credibility with the general populace that, when it was reported some UN bureaucrat had a vial of poison gas in his office as a “souvenir” from Iraq, almost no one questioned the possibility it was true? (Fortunately, it turned out to be an erroneous report, but my point remains valid — it wasn’t until after the substance in question was proven safe that the nay-sayers started mocking those who had taken the initial reports seriously — NOT when the reports first came out.)
Also, I’m not that well-versed in the current Iraqi constitution, but I feel fairly certain that it doesn’t contain language granting the United States the right to demand they set it aside and write a new one from scratch.
3. “Use presidential leadership to surge our diplomacy with all of the nations of the region on behalf of a new regional security compact.”
The four biggest influences right now on Iraq are immediate neighbors — Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. The Turks are mainly interested in keeping the Kurds (both in Turkey and in northern Iraq) from getting too uppity. The Saudis’ motives are purely selfish; they want to keep a handle on their own crazies, and encouraging them to go “fight the infidels in Iraq” keeps the pressure off them. Meanwhile, Syria and Iran are just-short-of-openly challenging the US from establishing a free and democratic Muslim state in the heart of a near-absolute region of tyrannies. (In this context, Israel doesn’t count.) Their interests and ours are diametrically opposed, and no amount of “surge diplomacy” (gee, I wonder where he picked up THAT term) will change that.
4. “Take immediate steps to confront the humanitarian disaster in Iraq, and to hold accountable any perpetrators of war crimes.”
Well, part of the humanitarian disaster going on is that the bad guys there like shooting, blowing up, beheading, or otherwise killing the people who are there offering humanitarian assistance. So killing, capturing, or otherwise neutralizing them would be a good first step.
As far as the second part… that’s a nice idea, but it seldom works. I hate to say it, but I think the best model to follow would be that of South Africa, with its “Truth And Reconciliation” commissions. Perpetrators of crimes and atrocities could win amnesty for their deeds under the old regime by publicly confessing them. Yes, absolute justice is denied, but in the long run it does a halfway decent job of ending the cycle of violence and retribution and revenge.
I’ve always thought that Obama could be a decent candidate, and perhaps even a decent president, but not just yet. He’s far too “green” for the big leagues. He’s spent nearly his entire career as a legislator. He could use some time in some sort of executive position, or perhaps (dare I say it) a stint in the private sector to broaden his experiences.
This just reinforces that belief.