Belmont Club

A blast from the past

Here’s the platform Barack Obama ran on from www.barackobama.com. How much of this does the President still believe in? How much did the candidate believe in then?

We could have deployed the full force of American power to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and all of the terrorists responsible for 9/11, while supporting real security in Afghanistan. …

We could have strengthened old alliances, formed new partnerships, and renewed international institutions to advance peace and prosperity. …

George Bush and John McCain don’t have a strategy for success in Iraq – they have a strategy for staying in Iraq. They said we couldn’t leave when violence was up, they say we can’t leave when violence is down. They refuse to press the Iraqis to make tough choices, and they label any timetable to redeploy our troops “surrender,” even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government – not to a terrorist enemy. Theirs is an endless focus on tactics inside Iraq, with no consideration of our strategy to face threats beyond Iraq’s borders. …

It is unacceptable that almost seven years after nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on our soil, the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 are still at large. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahari are recording messages to their followers and plotting more terror. The Taliban controls parts of Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has an expanding base in Pakistan that is probably no farther from their old Afghan sanctuary than a train ride from Washington to Philadelphia. If another attack on our homeland comes, it will likely come from the same region where 9/11 was planned. And yet today, we have five times more troops in Iraq than Afghanistan. …

Senator McCain said – just months ago – that “Afghanistan is not in trouble because of our diversion to Iraq.” I could not disagree more. Our troops and our NATO allies are performing heroically in Afghanistan, but I have argued for years that we lack the resources to finish the job because of our commitment to Iraq. That’s what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said earlier this month. And that’s why, as President, I will make the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be. This is a war that we have to win.

What’s changed? Or has the President simply changed his mind now that he’s had a think about it? Was Afghanistan “a war that we have to win” from the beginning? Or is it an economy of force operation? And if it still is the Central Front in what used to be called the War on Terror, then is losing an option?

Or was Barack Obama wrong and is the President now arguing that geostrategic changes in other parts of the world, say the Middle East, can have an indirect but decisive effect on Afghanistan so that pulling out is now an option? Not the hated Iraq campaign, which everyone on the Left believes achieved nothing, but say the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, which it is widely hoped will change everything? So is there a linkage? This question takes on a new significance with new events in Iran that are hardly being covered by the media. Michael Ledeen says Islamic Republic of Iran is falling apart before our eyes:

These little stories illustrate a great event, indeed a world-changing event: the death of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, and the rest of the evil empire in Tehran, are all dead men walking. We don’t know the schedule for the funeral yet, but Iranians know it’s on the agenda. One will get you ten at my betting window that, aside from a very thin veneer of top officials (for whom there is no hope, for they will fulfill the demand of the nightly rooftop chants), anyone who is anyone in Iran today is trying to make a deal with Mousavi and Karroubi. They are all whispering that their hearts are green, and always were green.

Here’s a thought for historians writing about the recent past. What if George Bush was right and the center of gravity of Islamic fundamentalism lies in the regimes of the Middle East? In the Damascus-Baghdad-Teheran axis? Then what is the consequence of what the Obama administration is doing now? Open thread.


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