Yesterday I, like many other bloggers, wrote about Amir Taheri’s column in the New York Post in which he asserts that Obama tried to get Iraqi officials to postpone the agreement for a US troop draw-down. The Obama campaign supposedly flatly denied Taheri’s claims, but Glenn Reynolds, after examining the Obama campaign’s response, doesn’t think it’s much of a denial. From the AFP:
“He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington,” Zebari said in an interview, according to Taheri.
“However, as an Iraqi, I prefer to have a security agreement that regulates the activities of foreign troops, rather than keeping the matter open,” Zebari reportedly said.
The Republican campaign of John McCain seized on the report to accuse Obama of double-speak on Iraq, calling it an “egregious act of political interference by a presidential candidate seeking political advantage overseas.”
But Obama’s national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said Taheri’s article bore “as much resemblance to the truth as a McCain campaign commercial.”
In fact, Obama had told the Iraqis that they should not rush through a “Strategic Framework Agreement” governing the future of US forces until after President George W. Bush leaves office, she said.
That’s a confirmation of Taheri’s column, not a denial. So, Obama, in fact, did interfere with the negotiations between the US government and Iraqi government on troop draw-down. My comments, therefore still stand:
We can only guess what Obama’s motivation was for postponing the negotiations until after the election and a new administration – who wouldn’t assume he meant his administration, he was at the height of his celebrity then – is in charge. This truly is the height of hubris. He is a junior senator from Illinois and just because he is a candidate for president doesn’t give him any authority to act as if he already is president, so he had no business trying to scuttle those troop draw-down negotiations.
Senator Barack Obama’s actions were not only completely inappropriate but they may have treaded on some illegal and unethical ground.
Update: Bob Owens has a column about this at Pajamas Media and writes this about Obama’s interference:
If the claims in Taheri’s article are accurate, then Senator Obama is playing a dangerous and duplicitous game.
It would mean Barack Obama attempted to pressure American military commanders to make a declaration that he would have used as a political tool during his presidential campaign to undermine both his opponent and the current president, perhaps undermining the credibility of the U.S. military as an apolitical group loyal to the United States instead of political parties. It was wrong to attempt to put American commanders at war in such a predicament, where their words could be used against their sitting commander-in-chief as a political bludgeon. Either Obama did not think of that, or he was simply untroubled by the thought of abusing the careers of American commanders for political gain.
Seriously, I don’t know which is worse.
Lorie adds: I agree with Kim. The “denial” is almost a complete confirmation of everything Taheri said, even including the part about the Congress needing to be involved in the negotiation. Here is the other thing though, even if Obama tries to say that his statement is somehow different than what Taheri said, at the VERY least he is saying he was not even clear enough about what he said to the Iraqis for them to understand what he meant. Definitely NOT someone who needs to be negotiating on behalf of the United States. I expected the Obama campaign to claim the story was completely fabricated, but in confirming what Taheri said, I don’t see how this is not a really serious big deal. Do I think the media will see it that way — of course not. It will be up to McCain to make sure voters know about this.