Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Obama Chooses Kahl Over Katulis

It seems that Senator Barack Obama has finally taken sides: in light of his new "refining" re-examination of Iraq, Obama is taking the centrist approach being mapped out by Colin Kahl, rather than the leftist hyperventilation of the likes of Brian Katulis.

Many are describing this as political opportunism. Yes it is that, but it is also to be welcomed as a sign of maturity in Obama's Iraq discourse. I think the end result of all this is that Iraq will not be as critical an issue in the election debate come November, which means less Iraq-related assignments for leftie journos (...and less money).

I've always respected Colin Kahl, even though I may disagree with some of his conclusions. I've always had good things to say on this blog about his sober, methodical and rational approach in understanding Iraq. He's one of the very few real Iraq experts, on either side of the left-right divide, that I truly admire.

And even though I'd like McCain to win (...I just pasted McCain bumper stickers to my car yesterday!) and I know that Iraq is one of his strong-points, but I think that keeping Iraq out of the charged rhetoric of U.S. elections would be better for the people of Iraq, especially as they head into contentious elections of their own. McCain has plenty of other things going for him: he's a man of honor that one can trust, which can't be said about Obama.


Blogger Brian H said...

Yes, it's great that some sense may enter into some of the Oblabla campaign. If only to highlight how loony-tunes the rest of it is.

11:04 PM, July 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's great only if people remember that his position throughout has been to end the war, not win it.

It would be wise for McCain to continue to talk about the disastrous consequences which would have ensued if Obama's policy of ending the war had been pursued rather than winning it. He should talk about it throughout the campaign.

Now that it's clear the war will be won unless there is a premature withdrawal Obama says he may actually take conditions on the ground into account in determining how to withdraw U. S. forces.

Obama is now not completely irrational about Iraq, but this hardly makes him fit to be CIC.

Obama has been wrong about Iraq throughout. He opposed removing Saddam. Today Saddam would be developing nuclear weapons and still supporting terrorism if he had not been removed.

I hope that Iraq is a major election issue and that once it's understood that the mission is a success the debate as to whether the mission was wise will be more honest and rational.

If that happens McCain will win in a landslide.

Terry Gain

7:10 AM, July 05, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I won't be surprised if Obama picks Cheney as his VP. Nothing this guy does anymore surprises me.

Obama-Cheney '08!!!
Imagine how many heads would explode at Daily Kos !

8:58 AM, July 05, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nibras, don't you believe this for a second. Despite his recent attempts to try and get us to believe that he's a "centrist", at the core Barack Obama is an anti-war leftist. One look at his voting record in the US Senate is all you need to verify this fundamental fact. He wants us out of Iraq ASAP, and damn the consequences.

11:49 AM, July 05, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The situation in Iraq in January 2009 will be so such that even Obama may not be able to lose Iraq.

The knock on Obama is that he was prepared to abandon Iraq to al Qaeda and Iran even though the war was winnableand the consequences of withdrawal would have been disastrous: for Iraqis, the middle east, the war on terrorism and America.

What will he do when confronted with difficult choices?

His judgment is that of a leftie. No damn good.

Terry Gain

4:37 PM, July 05, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Obama: Rest assured, I’m still fully committed to abandoning Iraq

7:25 PM, July 05, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard that the tentative title of the big speech that Obama intends to give in Berlin is "Ich bin ein Flip-Flopper!"

Oh boy the NYT editorial board went after Obama today. Double Trouble!

July 4, 2008
Editorial New York Times

Senator Barack Obama stirred his legions of supporters, and raised our hopes, promising to change the old order of things. He spoke with passion about breaking out of the partisan mold of bickering and catering to special pleaders, promised to end President Bush's abuses of power and subverting of the Constitution and disowned the big-money power brokers who have corrupted Washington politics.

Now there seems to be a new Barack Obama on the hustings. First, he broke his promise to try to keep both major parties within public-financing limits for the general election. His team explained that, saying he had a grass-roots-based model and that while he was forgoing public money, he also was eschewing gold-plated fund-raisers. These days he's on a high-roller hunt.

Even his own chief money collector, Penny Pritzker, suggests that the magic of $20 donations from the Web was less a matter of principle than of scheduling. "We have not been able to have much of the senator's time during the primaries, so we have had to rely more on the Internet," she explained as she and her team busily scheduled more than a dozen big-ticket events over the next few weeks at which the target price for quality time with the candidate is more than $30,000 per person.

The new Barack Obama has abandoned his vow to filibuster an electronic wiretapping bill if it includes an immunity clause for telecommunications companies that amounts to a sanctioned cover-up of Mr. Bush's unlawful eavesdropping after 9/11.

In January, when he was battling for Super Tuesday votes, Mr. Obama said that the 1978 law requiring warrants for wiretapping, and the special court it created, worked. "We can trace, track down and take out terrorists while ensuring that our actions are subject to vigorous oversight and do not undermine the very laws and freedom that we are fighting to defend," he declared.

Now, he supports the immunity clause as part of what he calls a compromise but actually is a classic, cynical Washington deal that erodes the power of the special court, virtually eliminates "vigorous oversight" and allows more warrantless eavesdropping than ever.

The Barack Obama of the primary season used to brag that he would stand before interest groups and tell them tough truths. The new Mr. Obama tells evangelical Christians that he wants to expand President Bush's policy of funneling public money for social spending to religious-based organizations — a policy that violates the separation of church and state and turns a government function into a charitable donation.

He says he would not allow those groups to discriminate in employment, as Mr. Bush did, which is nice. But the Constitution exists to protect democracy, no matter who is president and how good his intentions may be.

On top of these perplexing shifts in position, we find ourselves disagreeing powerfully with Mr. Obama on two other issues: the death penalty and gun control.

Mr. Obama endorsed the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the District of Columbia's gun-control law. We knew he ascribed to the anti-gun-control groups' misreading of the Constitution as implying an individual right to bear arms. But it was distressing to see him declare that the court provided a guide to "reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe."

What could be more reasonable than a city restricting handguns, or requiring that firearms be stored in ways that do not present a mortal threat to children?

We were equally distressed by Mr. Obama's criticism of the Supreme Court's barring the death penalty for crimes that do not involve murder.

We are not shocked when a candidate moves to the center for the general election. But Mr. Obama's shifts are striking because he was the candidate who proposed to change the face of politics, the man of passionate convictions who did not play old political games.

There are still vital differences between Mr. Obama and Senator John McCain on issues like the war in Iraq, taxes, health care and Supreme Court nominations. We don't want any "redefining" on these big questions. This country needs change it can believe in.

1:06 PM, July 06, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is unfair to call Obama a flip=flopper when he is clearly a flop-flipper.

1:26 PM, July 06, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never doubted that Obama would eventually move to the center. He's a politician, not an ideologue, and he wants to win the presidency. I never believed he would want to go down in history as the president who lost a winnable war. Every move he made so far is carefully calibrated to win him more votes. Sure enough, he may lose the New York Times and some voters on the leftist fringe, but he'll win more among independents and some Republicans not fully convinced of McCain. Nibras, you did the right thing recognizing and welcoming Obama's shift having secured his party's nomination. Now, he'll systematically move to make McCain redundant as far as national security is concerned. His speech at AIPAC on Iran was just the beginning. Call it opportunism, or whatever you like. Show me a politician who is not opportunistic, and I'll show you an idealist with no chance of winning elections. McCain opposed the tax cuts for the rich, before he supported the cuts. I wouldn't characterize Obama's recalibration on Iraq as flip-flopping -- certainly not as dramatic as that of McCain. Obama always said "we need to be as careful pulling out of Iraq as we were careless going in". I interpret that as a commitment not to withdraw precipitously in a manner that would amount to losing the war. I can't see Obama changing course in Iraq. In fact, I believe he will, more or less, carry on with the Bush policy there. We shall see.

3:40 PM, July 06, 2008

Blogger Bill Baar said...

What Obama will do in Afganistan and Pakistan is the question no one is asking of him.

Iraq seems locked on a positive course it will be hard to stray from... but Afganistan is different.

11:03 AM, July 07, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nibras, I know your are specialized in politics, but could you please enlighten your readers on the qualification right of the Iraqi Football team for the 2010 Wolrd Cup in South Africa. According to one Iraqi sports forum, Qatar should lose their qualification to the Iraqi team. Qatar has cheated in letting the Brazilian player (Emerson) play with them to win 2-0 against Iraq. According to the FIFA law, any player who have played to any national team, is not allowed to play to another national team (Emerson played for Brazil Youth team in 1999 and for Qatar national team in 2007-2008). This is against the FIFA law. In such instance, Iraq should qualify. You can read more about this subject here:



4:55 PM, July 07, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is from Wikipedia:

Nationality issue

In April 2008, it was revealed that Emerson has also played for Brazil under-20 team which makes him ineligible to play for the Qatari national team because he has already played for Brazil. Taking that into consideration and that he represented Qatar in the World Cup qualifier against Iraq on the 26th of March, Qatar breaches FIFA rules and Qatar could lose the 3 points they gained from the game against Iraq. It comes as a worrying signs as Qatar did not play Emerson in the World Cup qualifier vs. China on the 2/6/08 which proves that it is a serious issue that has to be looked at by FIFA. FIFA has confirmed the breach of laws but has said that QFA is not responsible for any wrongdoing and that Emerson has since not played for Qatar.


5:08 PM, July 07, 2008

Blogger Anand said...

Where is Colin Kahl's blog?

Obama might be more hawkish than McCain on Iraq. It is hard to tell.

I would rather Iraq was "NOT" discussed much during the Presidential election.

10:02 PM, July 07, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it's good to know that Obama has at least one good advisor.

4:34 PM, July 08, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting recent events, Maliki and his security advisor are demanding a time table for withdrawal of US Troops. Looks like Obama has the right plan after all....all us troops out of Iraq within 15 months. The Iraqi Military needs the very least 5 years to fully arm and train, and another 10 years to build a new Air Force. Sadr and his Iranian friends just might have the last laugh after all...

8:06 PM, July 08, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Al-Maliki, meanwhile, called Obama's suggestion of a 16-month withdraw of U.S. combat troops as "the right timeframe."

In an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel magazine released Saturday, al-Maliki said he was not seeking to endorse the Illinois senator.

"That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes," al-Maliki was quoted as saying. "Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of U.S. troops in Iraq would cause problems."

Too bad Obama did not get his way 18 months back, 1,000 US soldiers would not have died in vain for a Shia/Iranian style government soon to be put in place. When we leave we should hand most of our weapons over to the Kurds

1:34 PM, July 19, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Nibras - why has Maliki given Obama this huge free kick?

btw that is a term that relates to the idiosyncratic rules of Australian League Football!

2:04 AM, July 20, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

╠ When we leave we should hand most of our weapons over to the Kurds ╠

Did you know that Ansar il-islam is largely Kurdish

I agree with you that it's strange that Maliki is friends with both Bush and Ahmadinejad.
These Iraqi Shia weirdos believe that this somehow makes sense.

Anyway, now that Maliki (may Allah torch him in hell) has requested a withdrawal, which he of course won't get because he is controlled from Washington,
that should finally put to rest the debate over whether he is a real sovereign ruler or a puppet.

Unless of course Obama wins, because Obama is an undercover muslim and he'll actually do the withdrawal.

2:32 AM, July 20, 2008

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1:27 AM, August 28, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

These Iraqi Shia weirdos believe that this somehow makes sense.

Politics (particularly of the sort where you have to get along somehow) can be 'strange' like that; just look at the bipartisan lauding of Ted Kennedy when his tumor diagnosis made the news. I've heard of Iran itself also trying to stack the deck by getting in good with as many non-state actors as possible in Iraq.

11:00 PM, August 29, 2008

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