The Prowler at the American Spectator has all the details on how Obama, in a closed door session with Iraqi officials, tried to persuade them to not negotiate a troop draw-down agreement with the US government until after Bush left the White House.
The Obama campaign spent more than five hours on Monday attempting to figure out the best refutation of the explosive New York Post report that quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as saying that Barack Obama during his July visit to Baghdad demanded that Iraq not negotiate with the Bush Administration on the withdrawal of American troops. Instead, he asked that they delay such negotiations until after the presidential handover at the end of January.
The three problems, according to campaign sources: The report was true, there were at least three other people in the room with Obama and Zebari to confirm the conversation, and there was concern that there were enough aggressive reporters based in Baghdad with the sources to confirm the conversation that to deny the comments would create a bigger problem.
Instead, Obama’s national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi told reporters that Obama told the Iraqis that they should not rush through what she termed a “Strategic Framework Agreement” governing the future of U.S. forces until after President Bush left office. In other words, the Iraqis should not negotiate an American troop withdrawal.
This is another example of a politician saying one thing in public (pull troops out of Iraq immediately) and another in private (don’t draw down troops until Bush is out of office). Obama has a pattern of saying one thing in public and the opposite in private, something Governor Palin touched on in her speech at the RNC when she reminded Americans that Obama spoke out of one side of his face to voters in rural Pennsylvania just to denigrate them out of the other side of his face in private to another group in San Fransisco.
But the more important and outrageous issue at hand is that he tried to undercut negotiations between a sitting US president and a foreign government. That’s simply breathtaking in its disrespect and disregard for the President of the United States. A senator running for president does not have to right to march into a meeting with officials from a foreign nation and tell them to disregard any negotiations from the sitting President of the United States. Hubris is not a strong enough word to describe what Obama tried to do.
The mainstream media will do what they can to bury this in order to protect their candidate, so the McCain/Palin campaign will need to make a statement denouncing Obama for his actions. Senator Obama needs to be held accountable but he won’t be if the media deliberately ignores this story.
Lorie adds: Even if the McCain campaign is not making an issue of this yet, others are:
Vets for Freedom has an ad asking Obama to acknowledge that the surge has worked by supporting a Senate resolution to that effect.
Update: Pete Hegseth at National Review independently confirms that Obama tried to undermine US negotiations but a bigger concern to him is Obama’s naivety on military and diplomatic issues:
Taheri’s column comports with second-hand reports I’ve received from those with access to top U.S. decision-makers in Iraq. Rather than use his touch-down trip to Baghdad to fact-find and consult with senior Iraqi and American officials, Sen. Obama made a concerted effort to push his post-Bush administration agenda, undermining — in word and deed — current diplomatic efforts in Iraq. Tuesday, the Obama campaign essentially confirmed the details of Taheri’s reporting.
Some will see this interference in foreign policy during a time of war and cry, “Treason!” While the episode truly is a scandal, I will check my emotions — as I find the overabundance of outrage in our politics tiring and toxic. I believe, rather, that the underlying naivety of Obama’s overtures is the more disturbing lesson to be distilled from this discovery.
It’s not just that Sen. Obama doesn’t believe in the mission in Iraq, it’s that he still doesn’t get it (to plagiarize from the senator himself). Fundamentally, he doesn’t understand the mission in Iraq, what it takes to win a war, or the ramifications of the outcome of this war for the U.S.’s enduring national security. He just doesn’t get it.
In Obama’s world, foreign-policy contorts to meet domestic politics, and commanding generals accommodate arbitrary political timelines. From his perspective, facts on a foreign battlefield exist to the extent they comport with his judgment, rather than his judgment comporting to facts on a foreign battlefield.
Pete’s article is a must read.
Update II: Amir Taheri has another column today in the Post where he goes after Obama’s so called denial point by point:
The Obama campaign has objected. While its statement says my article was “filled with distortions,” the rebuttal actually centers on a technical point: the differences between two Iraqi-US accords under negotiation – the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA, to set rules governing US military personnel in Iraq) and the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA, to settle the legal basis for the US military presence in Iraq in the months and years ahead).
The Obama camp says I confused the two. It continues: “On the Status of Forces Agreement, Sen. Obama has always said he hoped that the US and Iraq would complete it – but if they did not, the option of extending the UN mandate should be considered.
“As to the Strategic Framework Agreement, Sen. Obama has consistently said that any security arrangements that outlast this administration should have the backing of the US Congress – especially given the fact that the Iraqi parliament will have the opportunity to vote on it.”
If there is any confusion, it’s in Obama’s position – for the two agreements are interlinked: You can’t have any US military presence under one agreement without having settled the other accord. (Thus, in US-Iraqi talks, the aim is a comprehensive agreement that covers both SOFA and SFA.)
Taheri also includes Obama’s statements to NBC which refute what the Obama campaign is now saying.