Comments: "Apparent Evolution"

That’s exactly right, Obama has always said there would be residual forces and that he would be “redeploying” the “combat” troops (who only consist of about one half of all troops stationed in Iraq) which means sending them to Afghanistan.

From an Obama July Op Ed in the New York Times…

“As I’ve said many times, we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 — two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal.

In carrying out this strategy, we would inevitably need to make tactical adjustments. As I have often said, I would consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government to ensure that our troops were redeployed safely, and our interests protected. We would move them from secure areas first and volatile areas later. We would pursue a diplomatic offensive with every nation in the region on behalf of Iraq’s stability, and commit $2 billion to a new international effort to support Iraq’s refugees.”

The guy can speak out of both sides of his mouth at the same time. Leaving half the troops in Iraq is not ending the occupation, war, whatever you call it. And by referring to “tactical adjustments” he is leaving himself a trapdoor for keeping the troops there forever. Then there are the mercenaries who aren’t mentioned at all.

Also this…

”Ending the war is essential to meeting our broader strategic goals, starting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and Al Qaeda has a safe haven. Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been. As Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently pointed out, we won’t have sufficient resources to finish the job in Afghanistan until we reduce our commitment to Iraq.

As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there. I would not hold our military, our resources and our foreign policy hostage to a misguided desire to maintain permanent bases in Iraq.”

This should please the defense (war) contractors. More troops, more helicopters, more bombs, more guns, more death. Afghanistan will be a whole other ballgame, it’s the elephant’s graveyard of imperil endeavors. First Obama says he will keep half the troops in Iraq then he says he won’t hold our military and foreign policy hostage to maintaining permanent bases in Iraq. He can’t even write a few paragraphs without contradicting himself.

Posted by Rob Payne at December 9, 2008 04:09 AM

Um, Rob, that's certainly an unfair interpretation of what president-elect is saying. Learn to read, man. He's talking about a "misguided desire to maintain permanent bases in Iraq". US troops will stay in Iraq and permanent bases will be built - but they won't be maintained, they will be neglected. As promised.

Posted by abb1 at December 9, 2008 08:25 AM

NEITHER of you can read.

I want to hear more about exactly what the noncombat personnel and mercenaries will be doing/not doing in Iraq, and what they will be doing in Afghanistan, and how much money will be spent on military occupation vs civilian infrastructure in both countries. And what about the bases?

But it's been pretty obvious for several years to anyone with a brain that has matured beyond the age of 16 that no president could rapidly withdraw all US personnel from both countries any time soon without a risk of seriously negative political and geopolitical consequences. Both countries are a disaster and there is no time machine. But we owe the people of both countries a massive rebuilding effort---and such efforts need security, supposedly one of the "lessons" of Iraq.

And that's all Obama has been describing, in not much detail. I'd like the process to be faster, but it's not different from what he has said in the past and neither more nor less "realistic" (the NYT phrase deliberately disses the silly Left, everyone's favorite punching bag).

It only sounds contradictory if you can't hold two different thoughts in your heads at the same time. Did anyone truly think the end of these wars would be less ugly than their beginnings?

I'd like to see this blog and its commenters continue criticizing Obama and his blinder supporters as sharply as possible. But all that is occurring here is criticism of the PROBLEM, not Obama's proposed solution. Expressing sarcastic hatred of the War Parties is not new or interesting.

On December 26, will I see posts here about how you didn't get ponies?

Posted by Baldie McEagle at December 9, 2008 09:18 AM

As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down!

No liberal democracy can survive on its own unless/until it has a powerful army capable of suppressing its own unsatisfied citizens!

Posted by abb1 at December 9, 2008 09:36 AM

Did Obama change his position on Iraq or didn't he? Was he intentionally lying back then or was he told at some point that he has no option to change the policy?

There is a presumption that the universe is filled with either warmonger fascist politicians or warmonger fascist politicians who hide their true nature from the public until they're elected. Is that the extent of our humanity, to produce only political leaders who are fully aligned with the military-industrial complex, or does the military-industrial complex control the process so that only their guys win? And if they control the political process, then don't they control the government? And if they control the government, then is Obama the real problem, since he isn't in control?

Because as much as the defenders of Obama are becoming tiresome, so are the critics of Obama who lay all the blame at his feet without actually addressing the bigger picture.

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at December 9, 2008 09:39 AM

Baldie--Sarcasm breeds sarcasm--if you're bored with it don't use the same tactic. And you should be bored with attacks on the War Party, because our political system keeps doing the same sorts of things over and over again. All sarcasm aside, it really is boring to read about it all the time, but that's the way things are. I don't think Obama represents any fundamental change in the outlook of US elites.

As for security, I've never known to what extent our troops provide it in one way while taking it away in another. Yeah, violence has dropped in Iraq, but for various reasons, probably the most important being that the Sunni tribes decided they were losing a war fought simultaneously against the Shiites and the US, and they didn't like Al Qaeda either. So they switched sides, for the moment at least.

There are no good figures for how many Iraqi deaths have been caused by US forces--if you believe Lancet 2 it's somewhere in the 30 percent range or higher as of June 2006. There are polls online from early this year and last year that you can read where around 40 percent of Iraqis say they know of unnecessary violence against civilians by coalition forces in their neighborhood--this is probably why so many Iraqis approved of attacks on US forces. I don't want to take a kneejerk lefty position and assume that the troops are doing now what they were doing earlier in the war--maybe Petraeus really did cut way back on the violence inflicted against civilians by our troops. But we (or I) don't have any reliable way to know that level now or in the past.

Posted by Donald Johnson at December 9, 2008 09:41 AM

The majority of the Iraqi populace wants the soldiers already gone. They have for years. These people are sick of "Pottery Barn rules." They don't want military bases and residual forces, and aren't interested in what the U.S. political elite considers realistic. Why is this not relevant?

I think the war should have be defunded many years ago, and that to not do so wasn't political savvy, but complicity.

To make it even more black and white, they're all criminals, and I have no expectations of them. But one of my many bizarre, unrealistic ponies is for the U.S. to stop murdering Iraqis. The least we can do is to not stop talking about them, even if it ruins your Christmas.

Posted by Save the Oocytes at December 9, 2008 09:54 AM

@Save the Oocytes---You're entirely correct. What the Iraqis want IS relevant. The US should stop murdering them now, and leave as soon after that as possible.

The question is how to get there. And no, we shouldn't stop talking about that.

Posted by Baldie McEagle at December 9, 2008 10:15 AM

You know, clichés bother me, but is there any word more appropriate for Iraq then "quagmire"?

Everybody in the ruling class who matters agrees on one thing: We can't get out. The only question is whether we can send some troops off to a different war. But everybody agrees that it's simply impossible not to leave bases and troops in Iraq. It's the only option. We can't get out.

During the Democratic Convention I managed to catch a bit of Melissa Etheridge singing "Give Peace a Chance" and I don't think it was meant as a rebuke to Obama.

It bugs me quite a bit that Democrats seem to accept "somewhat less war, maybe" as synonymous with "peace".

Posted by Christopher at December 9, 2008 11:15 AM

Ya want out? Ya gotta IMPEACH. 1-202-225-0100

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 9, 2008 11:39 AM

Christopher, if "everybody" (which seems to mean American political elites) "agrees that it's simply impossible not to leave bases and troops in Iraq," it's probably bullshit, based on what "everybody" usually knows. But then, no one could have seen this coming, could they? ("No one" referring also to "everybody".)

During the Democratic Convention I managed to catch a bit of Melissa Etheridge singing "Give Peace a Chance" and I don't think it was meant as a rebuke to Obama.

Too bad. It should have been.

Posted by Duncan at December 9, 2008 02:34 PM

The evolution of Barack Obama on Iraq:

pre-election (March 19, 2008)
"I will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. We can responsibly remove 1 to 2 combat brigades each month. If we start with the number of brigades we have in Iraq today, we can remove all of them [in] 16 months. After this redeployment, we will leave enough troops in Iraq to guard our embassy and diplomats, and a counter-terrorism force to strike al Qaeda if it forms a base that the Iraqis cannot destroy."


post-election (December 7, 2008)
"We are going to maintain a large enough force in the region to assure that our civilian troops--or our, our, our civilian personnel and our, our embassies are protected, to make sure that we can ferret out any remaining terrorist activity in the region, in cooperation with the Iraqi government, that we are providing training and logistical support, maintaining the integrity of Iraq as necessary. And, you know, I--one of the things that I'll be doing is evaluating what kind of number's required to meet those very limited goals."
----
ooops! civilian troops -- he didn't mean to say THAT

Posted by Don Bacon at December 9, 2008 05:40 PM

OK, suppose there's a hundred (or so) Marines guarding our ginormous embassy, and another hundred (or so) U.S. military personnel working with the Iraqi military as "advisors." Anybody here object to that? Anybody here object to it enough to, say, get arrested in an act of civil disobedience?
If so, I say let's get started on those "U.S. out of Saudi Arabia!" protests while we're at it.

Posted by SteveB at December 9, 2008 06:29 PM

SteveB: Somehow I don't think BHO is talking about three digit numbers.

Posted by Save the Oocytes at December 9, 2008 07:15 PM

What irks me about the discussion above (and too many others I've seen U.S. peace activists engaged in recently) is that it treats the future of the U.S. in Iraq as if it is ENTIRELY a question of Obama's intentions (or Obama's intentions plus our willingness to press him.) No mention of the Iraqis, except as victims we should "listen to."

Um, okay, but, and I ask this honestly, suppose we insist on staying while the Iraqi government insists we leave: What happens?

Is it completely wrong to think that the Iraqis aren't capable of forcing us to withdraw?

If they aren't, then what else can you say but that we "should" listen to them?

Posted by Christopher at December 9, 2008 08:58 PM

Iraq is like UR dog biting U on the ass. Sure he's got a leash on and U hold the other end, BUT he's STILL chewing on UR ass and jerking the chain just pulls out chunks of UR ass.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 9, 2008 09:29 PM

The SOFA is not a treaty on the US side (the only side that counts) it is an executive agreement, a pact that's not worth the paper it's written on because whatever isn't nullified by a signing statement can be eliminated by executive order later.

Senators Obama and Biden, who in their campaign demanded "congressional approval" of such a pact, haven't made a peep about Senate advise and consent as required by the Constitution because they, like Bush, don't want this pact to be a treaty. A treaty would require Senate advice and consent (embarrassing to Bush) and would bind the future president to a withdrawal, which Obama doesn't want. On this Bush and Obama are in agreement, and Senator Reid is obviously in cahoots. While the Iraqi parliament is involved the US Senate is AWOL so as to preserve executive privilege for the next president.

Trash the Constitution and government by the people. Notice that Obama doesn't even mention the pact; he only says what he as the new Decider will do.

Originally this pact was in two parts, a Strategic Framework Agreement and a Status of Forces Agreement, with the US State Dept as lead agency on both parts. Now it is a SOFA only, with the Pentagon now principally responsible for foreign relations for a nation in global war and all power to the new Commander in Chief. Hail Caesar!

Posted by Don Bacon at December 9, 2008 10:25 PM

suppose we insist on staying while the Iraqi government insists we leave: What happens?

We don't have to wait until 2011 to see if this agreement is for real. Starting on Jan. 1, the U.S. has to either free the people it is detaining, or hand them over to Iraqi custody. On the same date, U.S. mercenaries lose the immunity from prosecution that was given to them by U.S. proconsul Paul Bremer. The Iraqi government will probably want to demonstrate its new powers to prosecute these gunmen by making an example of a few of them, which should lead to a relatively quick exodus of the rest of them from the country.

By June 30, all U.S. troops will have to be withdrawn from Iraqi towns and cities to U.S. bases, all U.S. military missions will need the approval of the Iraqi government (which may be a rubber stamp, or it may not - we'll see) and the U.S. will be prohibited from detaining any person without an Iraqi court order (ditto on the rubber stamp question).

In July it goes before the public in a referendum (remember, at this point the Iraqi public will have had six months to see whether the U.S. is complying or not, and how rubber-stampy the Iraqi gov't is being). If the agreement is voted down, the U.S. is left with no legal basis for continuing the occupation (exit the remainder of the "coalition of the willing"), which probably means starting the negotiations over again, with the U.S. in an even weaker position than before.

Sounds good, no? Doesn't it seem like this might have more impact on the U.S. status in Iraq than Obama's election? In which case, might this agreement merit even 1% of the pixels that have been expended analyzing Obama's entrails? I think so, but I seem to be a minority of one on that question.

Posted by SteveB at December 10, 2008 12:05 AM

The SOFA is not a treaty on the US side (the only side that counts) it is an executive agreement, a pact that's not worth the paper it's written on because whatever isn't nullified by a signing statement can be eliminated by executive order later.

I agree with you about the Bush administration's unconstitutional behavior, but suppose the agreement prohibits the U.S. from using Iraq as a base to attack other countries, like Syria and Iran (which it does). Don't we want the U.S. to comply with that prohibition, and don't we want to be able to at least raise some objection if the U.S. doesn't comply? In which case, how is "not worth the paper it's written on" a useful approach for us to take?

A treaty would require Senate advice and consent (embarrassing to Bush) and would bind the future president to a withdrawal, which Obama doesn't want.

I agree with you that this agreement isn't binding on Obama in terms of a withdrawal schedule, but not in the way you think. The agreement explicitly states that the U.S. can completely withdraw it's forces "at any time." Nothing in this agreement "binds" Obama to keep troops in Iraq until 2011, or prevents him from withdrawing all our troops on Jan. 21, if he wanted to. I think that's an important point for those of us who are trying to pressure Obama to agree to a quick(er) withdrawal.

Posted by SteveB at December 10, 2008 12:16 AM

Incidentally the English version of that agreement has not been made available. For some reason I'm quite certain that there are enough loopholes and vague language in all those SOFAs to drive a tank brigade through.

And frankly, they don't even need any loopholes, they just do what they want and that's all there is to it. Consider the case of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, for example. And so - no insult intended, but - all this talk that "the agreement prohibits the U.S. from" this or that is just silly nerd-talk.

Posted by abb1 at December 10, 2008 09:25 AM

Ah, so it is published. It wasn't for a at least a few days after it was signed. Anyway, my point is that if they want to stay there for the next 50 years - they will. And, absent some dramatic development, I'm pretty sure they will stay indeed. I know I would. Build bases around the major oil fields, outposts along the pipelines and stay there for as long as those pumpjacks keep nodding. It's an excellent spot for bases, and Dick Cheney is not an idiot.

Posted by abb1 at December 10, 2008 01:56 PM

abb1: NO, but George is, call Nan @1-202-225-0100 and mention that.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 10, 2008 03:06 PM

Too late, Mike. She just got elected, and she is The Archduchess for the next two years.

What you could've done is running a credible well-financed decisively pro-impeachment primary candidate against her, starting the last spring. Then she might've acted in the summer, if she had gotten scared enough. Small chance, but at least some chance, and you only needed $15-20 million.

Posted by abb1 at December 10, 2008 04:16 PM

I thought I understood the point of the post until I read the criticism of FAIR's coverage. Isn't FAIR's take just exactly the same as Jeremy Scahill's? That is, that Obama's Iraq position always involved the unacceptable "residual forces" (with absolutely no commitment on their numbers)?

Posted by Nell at December 10, 2008 05:09 PM

my point is that if they want to stay there for the next 50 years - they will.

Well, if you're determined to believe that, I'm sure there's nothing I can do to persuade you otherwise. I just don't see what it's based on. That the U.S. always gets what it wants? You really can't think of any historical examples where the U.S. (or other powerful imperialist nations) didn't get what they want?

I always figured it would be difficult for the American ruling class to adjust to the decline in U.S. power under the Bush administration. Looks like some of us on the left will have a hard time adjusting, as well.

Posted by SteveB at December 10, 2008 05:17 PM

"In which case, how is "not worth the paper it's written on" a useful approach for us to take?"

Um, when he says that it isn't worth the paper it's written on, it's not an invitation to ignore it, for either side.

What are you arguing? That the Government is going to say, "Hey, you yourself said that the agreement wasn't worth the paper it's written on, so you have no standing to object to us if we don't follow it."?

You make an excellent point about the Iraqi government and SOFA, but I think one reason people want to disagree is that you pepper your argument with these bizarre complaints about innocuous language.

Incidentally, I'm slightly confused about this:

If the agreement is voted down, the U.S. is left with no legal basis for continuing the occupation (exit the remainder of the "coalition of the willing"), which probably means starting the negotiations over again, with the U.S. in an even weaker position than before.

If I'm reading you right, you're saying that in the event that the occupation becomes blatantly illegal, it will nonetheless most likely continue anyway?

Posted by Christopher at December 10, 2008 06:27 PM

abb1: True possibly, but my ONLY weapon to fight with is YOU.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 10, 2008 06:30 PM

Nell: Isn't FAIR's take just exactly the same as Jeremy Scahill's? That is, that Obama's Iraq position always involved the unacceptable "residual forces" (with absolutely no commitment on their numbers)?

Their positions share that data point, but their overall messages are much different. Scahill is saying that anyone who took the time to look past Obama's campaign rhetoric of bringing an end to the war could see that his plan boiled down to down-sizing and rebranding the occupation—so he's explicitly recognizing that Obama's official positions contradicted his campaign rhetoric. But this is FAIR's spin:

If anyone's not being clear here, it's the New York Times; as the paper notes, Obama's withdrawal plan always focused specifically on combat troops--as both supporters (Media Matters, 12/4/08) and critics (Huffington Post, 12/5/08) of Obama on the left have pointed out--so it's hard to see the "contradiction" that is now revealing itself.

In other words they're pretending that Obama never even suggested anything but that he planned to down-size and rebrand the occupation, which is as absurd as saying that Bush never suggested a connection between Iraq and 9/11. So Scahill is criticizing Obama for his slippery rhetoric, while FAIR is criticizing the media for criticizing Obama despite his crystal clear rhetoric.

Posted by John Caruso at December 10, 2008 08:32 PM

SOFA is just a stopgap to buy time for a re-instatement at the UN. George couldn't swing it but Obama can.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 10, 2008 11:21 PM

here's a link to a Real News report on the SOFA:

http://therealnews.com/t/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=2942

Posted by Susan - NC at December 11, 2008 12:31 AM

You really can't think of any historical examples where the U.S. (or other powerful imperialist nations) didn't get what they want?

Sure I can, but can you think of any historical examples where the U.S. (or other powerful imperialist nations) didn't get what they want just because someone signed some agreement with it?

Posted by abb1 at December 11, 2008 06:40 AM

can you think of any historical examples where the U.S. (or other powerful imperialist nations) didn't get what they want just because someone signed some agreement with it?

This agreement is a symptom of declining U.S. power, not a cause of it. Sometimes, agreements like this are worthless pieces of paper (e.g. the hundreds of treaties the U.S. signed with Native Americans) and sometimes they're not. Which is the case depends on the relative balance of power between the parties.

I think this agreement is significant because it's a demonstration that the Iraqi people have been able to defeat the main U.S. aim of an endless U.S. occupation of Iraq, with dozens of bases, from which the U.S. can threaten and strike other counties. The fact that it also opens Blackwater's hired killers up to prosecution in Iraqi courts is a plus, too.

Just to put things in perspective, just imagine if Dennis Kucinich or Maxine Waters had been able to get any ONE of these provisions through our own Congress. Would we have questions about whether the U.S. military will comply? Of course. Would we still consider legislation like that to be a a significant accomplishment? I think we would. And if it's significant when U.S. legislators do it, why isn't it significant when Iraqi legislators do it?

Posted by SteveB at December 11, 2008 08:12 AM

SteveB wrote: "Just to put things in perspective, just imagine if Dennis Kucinich or Maxine Waters had been able to get any ONE of these provisions through our own Congress. Would we have questions about whether the U.S. military will comply? Of course. Would we still consider legislation like that to be a a significant accomplishment?"

Of course, we would have questions as to why the U.S. military would comply with U.S. legislation, but WHY would we suspect that they wouldn't? It's because, relatively, in the real world, measuring real power, the military has more power than Congress and, I might add, the Executive Branch. What does that say about our democracy? How did it happen? How do we change it? And why do people waste time looking for hypocrisy by parsing Obama's campaign promises? Isn't the bigger point that his, or any President's, campaign promises are beholden to the whims of the military-industrial complex?

Check out Silvestre Reyes' comments today.

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at December 11, 2008 09:33 AM

Fair enough, it could be a symptom. Or it could be a fig leaf to maintain the appearances for the next couple of years.

As far as whether a legislation like that would be a significant accomplishment - I dunno about that either. A bunch of incidents during the 1970s and 80s (like the Iran/contras, for example) indicate that legislations in the realm of foreign policy don't mean much at all. Who will enforce them? How?

Posted by abb1 at December 11, 2008 09:45 AM

A bunch of incidents during the 1970s and 80s (like the Iran/contras, for example) indicate that legislations in the realm of foreign policy don't mean much at all. Who will enforce them? How?

Actually, the Boland Amendment (prohibiting U.S. aid to the Contras) is a good example. No, it didn't prevent the Reagan administration from aiding the Contras, but it did mean that the Reagan administration had to break the law to aid the Contras. And that meant two things: 1) the total amount of aid was probably less than if they had simply been able to stick the taxpayers with the bill, and 2) it gave opponents of aid to the Contras one more tool - a legal tool - with which to fight that aid, once it had been exposed.

People in power always have a Plan B (and a Plan C, and a Plan D...) but nevertheless, it's important to note when you've managed to push them off of Plan A. That's not nothing, and it's really the only way we ever really win against those in power - doggedly closing off their options until there are no more options left.

Posted by SteveB at December 11, 2008 12:26 PM

SOFA is just a stopgap to buy time for a re-instatement at the UN. George couldn't swing it but Obama can.

After 9/11, it was common to hear talk from the Neocons about how the U.S. wasn't just a superpower, we were a hyperpower. As Karl Rove famously said, "We create our own reality." The U.S. was invincible, and we were going to roll up "bad" regimes one after the other, from Damascus to Tehran to Pyongyang.

We don't hear that kind of talk from the Neocons any more (at least not in public). But it seems that some of Bush's critics have absorbed the dogma of American invincibility. It's just not possible to imagine that the U.S. can be defeated, or even suffer a serious setback to its aims. Any apparent setback must really be a trick. Just you wait, the U.S. will get its way - they're not fooling us!

Posted by SteveB at December 11, 2008 12:38 PM

Fair enough. I guess I got carried away a bit, thanks for being patient. Damn internets.

Nan, still. If you think about it as a strategy game like chess or go - sure, you make your moves, derail their plan A, their plan B, but come on, in the end you lose anyway, because there is always plan Z - the pieces flying off the board.

Like the Iraq war, for example. They try to get a UN resolution, they can't - ah, the hell with it. Illegal? Who cares. They have all the weapons, all the money, most of the media. Can't fight the city hall, as they say.

Posted by abb1 at December 11, 2008 12:48 PM

Let's take just one example.

Balad Air Base is one of the largest American military bases in Iraq. Balad is the central logistical hub for forces in Iraq and the busiest air base in the world operated by the United States Department of Defense. It is currently the second busiest airport in the world, after Heathrow.

In a couple of years, the story goes, the US will hand over the keys for this expensive, busy, vitally strategic activity to the Iraqi government, an Islamic government closely allied, including a mutual security pact, with Iran. This would allow Iran to station the combat air wing of their Revolutionary Guard, or of their regular air force, at Balad where it could be used in operations against US allies in the Caucuses and western Middle East.

Uh - huh. Sure. Because the SOFA says so? This SOFA is not a treaty and is not a law. Bush and Obama have made sure of that. It is simply a political agreement to tide things over until the American people can be distracted by a new threat somewhere. The Iraqi people? They never have counted and they never will.

The Pentagon rules right now, people, so get used to it. Obama has obviously got the message, loud and clear. As one wag wrote: They escorted him into the smoke-filled room, the little screen came down, and . . .Presto, a new vision from the new messiah, the new "Decider."

Posted by Don Bacon at December 11, 2008 01:08 PM

...I discovered with some horror that Norman Solomon was an elected Obama delegate to the Democratic national convention.

Yes, I was disappointed when I first heard that, though it was consistent with his trajectory since 2004 (when he made it his mission to help Kerry by attacking Nader—much like FAIR founder Jeff Cohen did).

One of the clearest examples of the difference between FAIR's criticism and Scahill's is illustrated by FAIR's choice to lay into this paragraph from the NYT story:

There always was a tension, if not a bit of a contradiction, in the two parts of Mr. Obama's campaign platform to "end the war" by withdrawing all combat troops by May 2010. To be sure, Mr. Obama was careful to say that the drawdowns he was promising included only combat troops. But supporters who keyed on the language of ending the war might be forgiven if they thought that would mean bringing home all of the troops.

But this is essentially the same thing Scahill was saying (albeit in a milder form). So by attacking the NYT for it, FAIR was effectively attacking Scahill's position as well.

Posted by John Caruso at December 11, 2008 04:01 PM

Regarding the coverage of Obama's positions on Iraq, that is: What will the new Decider decide? -- it is a worthless conversation because the basic assumption is that the US is not a nation of the people but a nation where our principal political occupation is to clarify the thoughts of The Decider. And if that's the case then what is the use (WITU)?

The actual case is that these problematical thoughts of the Decider aren't really his thoughts at all but those of the ruling elite, the banking and armaments industries that mostly benefit from disorder and warfare. In this real-life scenario then it's WITU once removed, and is especially a waste of time.

Or, to put it another way, Obama's constant and/or changing views are only informative as to what the real powers want, which obviously in the case of Iraq is an overwhelming, continuing military presence. The next Iraqi crisis will be Shi'ite vs, Kurd, an impending civil war that will require a US military presence.

Now where have we heard that before? We have heard that before as an impending Shi'ite/Sunni civil war, sparked by the Samarra mosque bombing in February 2006 in which the US was complicit, which required -- you remember, all together now -- an ongoing US military presence.

Posted by Don Bacon at December 11, 2008 04:37 PM