Friday, September 12, 2008
Rookie "Luck" -- Or Something Deeper?
Well, is it possible that Obama's judgment -- or political prescience -- has been demonstrated more than just once? Well, noting George W. Bush's reported decision to send special forces into Pakistan, my on-time boss says:
It is worth recalling that in his first major foreign-policy address, in August 2007, Barack Obama proposed raids against al-Qaeda in Pakistan without consultation, and making
the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional, and I would make our conditions clear: Pakistan must make substantial progress in closing down the training camps, evicting foreign fighters, and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan.
I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.
If the story is correct — and it reads like an official leak — the July date indicates Bush approved this plan while Musharraf was still in power. (He resigned his office in August.) He was, however, vastly weaker and more compromised this past July than he was when Obama made his speech in 2007.
I was among many people who ridiculed the Obama proposal at the time, on the grounds that a) no nation violates the territorial integrity of an ally, even if that ally is problematic, and b) Obama’s bellicosity seemed entirely unbelievable, given that he spoke in the wake of his remarks about meeting with the leaders of the world’s worst regimes “without preconditions.” On the latter point, he was and remains wrong and foolish.
On the former point, though, he was, apparently, precognitive, and may be due an apology.That's an amazing statement coming from a reliable strong hawk like JPod. And, he was hardly alone in saying that Obama's view on Pakistan demonstrated his inexperience and "confused leadership." Actually, this may be the third or fourth time that subsequent events have actually endorsed an Obama viewpoint rather than that of John McCain.
Obama called for greater focus on Afghanistan -- and moving more troops there -- months before McCain agreed that more needed to be done to prevent further deterioration there. And, of course, Obama called for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq very early on -- Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki agreed with him and even the Bush administration has had to (rhetorically, at least) come around to that view. That left McCain the odd man out, taking the awkward position that he knew the views of the Iraqi people better than their own prime minister.
Now, two caveats: 1) McCain was right from the start on the surge, the success of which created the on-the-ground conditions that allowed Maliki to push for a timetable. But, that is undermined by the fact McCain refuses to, as the saying goes, "declare victory and get out." 2) Obama may find it uncomfortable that, as much as he says that McCain is a "third term for Bush," in fact Obama and Bush seem pretty close in worldview these days. Ah, irony is wonderful thing.
One last point, seven years and one day after the terrorist attacks on this country: conservative talk show host Michael Smerconish explains why Bush's failure to get the guy responsible for that day is making him listen closely to Barack Obama.