Obama supporters mugged by reality (and learn not to believe in change!)

Summary:  As I said during the campaign, Obama ran as a pro-war president — for both Iraq and Afghanistan.  And so it has proven to be.  Folks who thought otherwise were either not paying attention — or letting their hopes overrule their minds. 

Text of today’s message

Today’s we have more evidence that Only our amnesia makes reading the newspapers bearable (from my post of 30 April 2008).  James Taranto, editor of the Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web  feature, notes an interesting contrast between two editorials of the NYC grey lady.

  1. Barack Obama for President“, the endorsement of Obama by the New York Times, 24 October 2008
  2. Campaign Promises on Ending the War in Iraq Now Muted by Reality“, editorial in the New York Times, 3 December 2008

1.  Barack Obama for President“, the endorsement of Obama by the New York Times, 24 October 2008 — Excerpt:

The unnecessary and staggeringly costly war in Iraq must be ended as quickly and responsibly as possible.

While Iraq’s leaders insist on a swift drawdown of American troops and a deadline for the end of the occupation, Mr. McCain is still talking about some ill-defined “victory.” As a result, he has offered no real plan for extracting American troops and limiting any further damage to Iraq and its neighbors.

Mr. Obama was an early and thoughtful opponent of the war in Iraq, and he has presented a military and diplomatic plan for withdrawing American forces. Mr. Obama also has correctly warned that until the Pentagon starts pulling troops out of Iraq, there will not be enough troops to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

2.  Campaign Promises on Ending the War in Iraq Now Muted by Reality“, editorial in the New York Times, 3 December 2008 — Excerpt:

On the campaign trail, Senator Barack Obama offered a pledge that electrified and motivated his liberal base, vowing to “end the war” in Iraq.

But as he moves closer to the White House, President-elect Obama is making clearer than ever that tens of thousands of American troops will be left behind in Iraq, even if he can make good on his campaign promise to pull all combat forces out within 16 months.

… military planners are drawing up tentative schedules aimed at meeting both Mr. Obama’s goal for withdrawing combat troops, with a target of May 2010, and the Dec. 31, 2011, date for sending the rest of American troops home that is spelled out in the new agreement between the United States and the Iraqi government.

That status-of-forces agreement remains subject to change, by mutual agreement, and Army planners acknowledge privately that they are examining projections that could see the number of Americans hovering between 30,000 and 50,000 — and some say as high as 70,000 — for a substantial time even beyond 2011.

… 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.

They “might be forgiven” for paying attention to the New York Times (we’re all frequently guilty of stupidity, and hence should forgive it in others). 

For another perspective on this see “Liberals voice concerns about Obama“, Carol E. Lee and Nia-Malika Henderson, Politico, 8 December 2008.

Afterword

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To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp relevance to this topic:

Forecasts on the FM site about the “defense” policies of the Obama Administration:

  1. How the Iraq and Vietnam wars are mirror images of each other, 7 February 2008 — Now we have McCain, the leading Republican Presidential candidate, talking of an open-ended commitment to victory in Iraq.
  2. What do blogs do for America?, 26 February 2008 — As our problems reach critical dimensions and our economy sinks into what is (at best) a severe recession, our national leadership will likely move into the hands of someone with astonishingly little capacity to govern. 
  3. A look at the next phase of the Iraq War: 2009-2012, 1 March 2008 — What is next in Iraq?  None of the leading candidates have expressed any intention of leaving Iraq – except in the distant and vague future.  Obama has been quite explicit about his plans.
  4. Our metastable Empire, built on a foundation of clay, 3 March 2008 — We can elect leaders with vast ambitions (foreign for McCain, domestic for Obama), but can no longer afford them. 
  5. Secretary Gates would be a hero – if speeches could reform DoD, 6 May 2008
  6. I was wrong about SecDef Gates – here is a more accurate view of him, 7 May 2008
  7. America gets ready for new leadership (or is it back to the future?), 14 November 2008
  8. “Don’t Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart” by Tom Engelhardt, 21 November 2008

7 thoughts on “Obama supporters mugged by reality (and learn not to believe in change!)

  1. As a pro-Iraq Freedom supporter, I’m glad that looking at the reality of leaving and losing in Iraq looks worse than staying. I didn’t believe voters should trust Obama; but now I’m glad he’s decided to CHANGE.
    This gives me a lot more HOPE.
    :)

    Too bad he’s gonna follow the Bush-Dem unending bailout for big boys plan, starting with auto workers.

  2. I am not aware of Obama ever once even hinting at dismantling the international network of US bases (over 700 and counting), nor doing so with the 4+ major ones in Iraq. As long as the US maintains this policy of maintaining garrisons all over the world, any notion of ‘withdrawing’ from Iraq is a deliberate red herring and always has been.

    This is also yet another example of discussing surface logistical topics without addressing the fundamental issues involved (like with current financial debacle).

    Furthermore, since election there has been no intimation that such a change is even being considered and especially given his solid, mainstream appointments in the defense sector, the only chance of any substantive ‘change’ is, unfortunately, structural economic collapse sufficiently dire as to render the maintenance of such far-flung, massively expensive military infrastructure essentially unaffordable.

    Although still unlikely, this seems far more possible than it did only a year ago. But clearly, there is no home-grown impetus to dismantle this, rather intimations of expansion into the Afghani-Paki-stan areas despite the recent setbacks due to European push back to the US drive to include Georgia and Ukraine in NATO.

  3. But as he moves closer to the White House, President-elect Obama is making clearer than ever that tens of thousands of American troops will be left behind in Iraq, even if he can make good on his campaign promise to pull all combat forces out within 16 months.

    I, like many other people, am left scratching my head because I apparently failed to read the fine print in the Obama campaign.

    But that is not the point.

    Despite Obama’s current hermeneutics,I remain sure that Napoleon, like Obama, doubtlessly intended to remain in Moscow for a substantial period of time. Things turned out otherwise, however. This is the point.

  4. I am reminded of William Lind’s frequent comment. He has said several times, the longer we leave our people out there, the more likely it is that we will be defeated in the field. We have never had an army defeated in the field. I hope we never do. What would a defeat do to us economically? Strategically? Psychologically?

  5. Well let’s see…They’ve been mugged by the reality that selling a US Senate Seat tends to royally peeve Federal prosecuters.

    Yes, Barack Obama is doing what nearly every other politician ever elected has done in the weeks after his triumph. He has made a list of which of his solemn promises that he knew was utter BS and has been quiretly looking for opportunities to piggy-back onto events of the day as an excuse to break them…

  6. During the election it was analogized that Obama running for POTUS was like the dog that relentlessly chases the car. What would he do if he ever catches it? Well, he’s caught it, and like that dog, he’s finding it’s not so clear what to do with it.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: What is the basis for your belief that this is not what he intended to do? The simple assumption is that he was sufficiently vague to get elected (like Nixon about Vietnam in 1968), and will now carry out his plans.

  7. Some promising steps here: “Obama and Affirmative Disclosure“, John Wonderlich, Sunlight Foundation, 8 December 2008:

    The Obama transition team released two new policies this week, a Creative Commons license and a radical disclosure policy. These changes don’t just signal a new relationship to the public, but also create a paradigm shift in how government manages information, and could lead to much bigger things to come from the administration. Requirements for affirmative disclosure move the onus of dissemination to the government (unlike FOIA, which relies on citizen requests), and might just revolutionize the way our government views its communications.

    To summarize, the transition team has decided that all policy documents and recommendations presented at official meetings with outside groups will be posted online, and they’re defining “official meetings” as those at which three or more representatives attend.

    This is a brave, bold move, and the transition team deserves our praise.”

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