Obama's tour de farce
The Iraqis have reason to be troubled by Obama's position regardless of what they say in public. Obama's position is that they would be better off with a genocidal despot still in power, and barring that with a terror regime run by supporters of al Qaeda.
TERMED a "learning" trip, Sen. Barack Obama's eight- day tour of eight nations in the Middle East and Europe turned out to be little more than a series of photo ops to enhance his international credentials.
"He looked like a man in a hurry," a source close to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said last week. "He was not interested in what we had to say."
Still, many Iraqis liked Obama's claim that the improved situation in Iraq owed to Iraqi efforts rather than the Gen. David Petraeus-led surge. In public and private comments, Obama tried to give the impression that the Iraqis would've achieved the same results even without the greater resources America has poured into the country since 2007.
In private, though, Iraqi officials admit that Obama's analysis is "way off the mark." Without the surge, the Sunni tribes wouldn't have switched sides to help flush out al Qaeda. And the strong US military presence enabled the new Iraqi army to defeat Iran-backed Shiite militias in Basra and Baghdad.
Nevertheless, in public at least, no Iraqi politician wants to appear more appreciative of American sacrifices than the man who may become the next US president.
Iraqis were most surprised by Obama's apparent readiness to throw away all the gains made in Iraq simply to prove that he'd been right in opposing the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein. "He gave us the impression that the last thing he wanted was for Iraq to look anything like a success for the United States," a senior Iraqi official told me. "As far as he is concerned, this is Bush's war and must end in lack of success, if not actual defeat."
Even so, Obama knows that most Americans believe they're still at war with an enemy prepared to use terror against them. So he can't do what his antiwar base wants - declare an end to the War on Terror and the start of a period of love and peace in which "citizens of the world" build bridges between civilizations.
That's why Obama is trying to adopt Afghanistan as "his" war. He claims that Bush's focus on Iraq has left Afghanistan an orphan in need of love and attention. Even though US military strategy is to enable America to fight two major wars simultaneously, Obama seems to believe that only one war is possible at a time.
Today, with the sole exception of Spain (where the mildly anti-American Socialist Party is in power), pro-US parties govern Europe. These parties feel pressure from the Bush administration to translate their pro-American claims into actual support for the Afghanistan war effort. By promising to shoulder the burden, Obama is letting the European allies off the hook.
Obama doesn't seem to have noticed the European scene's subtleties. Despite his claim that he came to listen, he seems to have heard nothing of interest during his 10,000-mile trip.
His position that the Iraqis could have defeated al Qaeda without the US surge is ignorant on several levels. It shows an ignorance of cunterinsurgency warfare which is guided by tring to get the host nation forces into the battle. That was one of the principal accomplishments of Petreaus strategy.
Getting the new Iraqi army forces into the action and flipping the "Sons of Iraq" forces created the force to space ration needed to cut off the enemy's movementto contact and it also protected the people so that the provided intelligence on enemy operations.
Taheri's point on the Europeans is interesting too. In fact Obama is not only taking the pressure off them with his policy, he is also taking the pressure off of al Qaeda with his retreat from Iraq.