Saying Too Much, Saying Too Little

I’ve had a little fun taking shots at Barack Obama of late, and I think it’s time for a few more.

One of the constant criticisms I (and others) have made against Obama is that he’s largely an “empty suit” — he says little of substance, but manages to say it in remarkably compelling ways. Well, a few remarks by Obama and his wife have struck me as worthy of note.

Recently, Michelle Obama spoke to a bunch of women in Ohio. As part of her spiel, she told them to tell their children “don’t go into corporate America.” That’s a fine, noble, liberal sentiment. A pity that the Obamas themselves have done quite well with corporate America.

As the National Review notes, Mrs. Obama was a part of a high-powered Chicago law firm, and works at the University of Chicago Hospital, where her salary has almost tripled in the last few years.

And her husband has also raked in quite a bit of money. He made quite a handsome amount of money from “The Audacity Of Hope” and “Dreams From My Father,” thanks to the small, scrappy, feisty independent publisher he chose, Three Rivers Press.

Whoops, my bad. Three Rivers Press is the nameplate of Crown Publishing, which is owned by Random House, the biggest English-language general publisher in the world. But I’m sure they’re not really part of “corporate America.”

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about Senator Obama’s position on Iraq. I have to admit, at first I thought he was just annoying. You know those people (often mothers-in-law and the like) who, when you have a problem, simply can’t wait to tell you “I told you so!”? Well, for some time I’ve thought of Obama that way. The first thing anyone says about Obama’s position on Iraq is to say “he was against it from the beginning.” The second thing is usually the same, rephrased. There is seldom a third thing.

So I went straight to the horse’s mouth and read his web site to see if I could find out anything more.

First, two paragraphs of Obama saying “I told you back then it was a bad idea.” Then a summation of the “problems” as he sees them — and I disagree. Then, his solution:

Another recap of “you should have listened to me,” citing his position in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006.

Then, finally, once we’ve all been properly impressed with his solid judgment, his plan:

Bringing Our Troops Home

Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.

I guess, in all his remarkable education, no one ever told him “loose lips sink ships.” When you’re fighting, you do NOT publish your troop movements.

You also don’t set deadlines for your withdrawal, unless you like the idea of the enemy realizing they can just hunker down and hold on, and they can win by default.

You also don’t rule out permanent bases in Iraq, at least until the Iraqi government asks you to. Our world-wide network of permanent bases (mainly in places we won in battle) exist solely because the host countries have found, by and large, that having a sizable US military presence is a GOOD thing. Further, we have a superb record of leaving when we are no longer welcome — just ask Saudi Arabia and the Philippines, two countries where we left our “permanent” bases when they asked us to. I’m glad he’ll keep some “troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats;” that’s one of the duties of the Marine Corps worldwide. As John McCain notes, al Qaeda already has a healthy (well, failing health) presence there. And we saw how well “targeted strikes” worked during the 90’s.

Other than that, it seems just fine.

Press Iraq’s Leaders to Reconcile

The best way to press Iraq’s leaders to take responsibility for their future is to make it clear that we are leaving. As we remove our troops, Obama will engage representatives from all levels of Iraqi society – in and out of government – to seek a new accord on Iraq’s Constitution and governance. The United Nations will play a central role in this convention, which should not adjourn until a new national accord is reached addressing tough questions like federalism and oil revenue-sharing.

Iraq’s leaders are already working on reconciling. No, it’s not as fast as I’d like, but it’s making progress. And I would keep the UN as far from Iraq as possible — they were the ones who empowered Saddam through the incredibly-corrupt “Oil For Food” program, they cut and ran from Iraq at least once, and “UN Peacekeepers” ought to be required as sex offenders wherever they deploy.

Regional Diplomacy

Obama will launch the most aggressive diplomatic effort in recent American history to reach a new compact on the stability of Iraq and the Middle East. This effort will include all of Iraq’s neighbors — including Iran and Syria. This compact will aim to secure Iraq’s borders; keep neighboring countries from meddling inside Iraq; isolate al Qaeda; support reconciliation among Iraq’s sectarian groups; and provide financial support for Iraq’s reconstruction.

OK, let’s take a look at Iraq’s region, in particular its immediate neighbors:

Syria — a Baathist dictatorship, much like that of Saddam’s that we overthrew. One of the biggest sponsors of terrorism in the world. Plays a key role in supporting the insurgency in Iraq.

Turkey — recently committed an incursion into northern Iraq to fight the Kurdish separatists/terrorists/insurgents who’ve been launching attacks on Turkey.

Iran — The main supporter of the Iraqi insurgency. Already has many, many of its military in Iraq, training the insurgents and carrying out their own attacks. Fought an incredibly bloody, years-long war with Iraq. Working on developing nuclear weapons.

Saudi Arabia — the source of the largest group of foreign fighters in Iraq — disaffected Saudi dissidents who are “encouraged” by the Saudi government to go elsewhere to raise their mischief.

Jordan and Kuwait also share a border with Iraq, but they’re largely benign.

Humanitarian Initiative

Obama believes that America has a moral and security responsibility to confront Iraq’s humanitarian crisis — two million Iraqis are refugees; two million more are displaced inside their own country. Obama will form an international working group to address this crisis. He will provide at least $2 billion to expand services to Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, and ensure that Iraqis inside their own country can find a safe-haven.

Oddly enough, it’s the humanitarian groups that have been targeted by the terrorists. Aid workers have been kidnapped, tortured, and executed by those Obama wants to turn Iraq over to.

Then, once again, we need to be reminded that Obama opposed the Iraq war from the outset.

When I take a close look at Barack Obama’s policies, I find it hard to take him seriously as a presidential contender. Then I take a close look at his delegate count, and realize that there’s a pretty good chance he actually might be our next president.

And that thought just makes me all hopey and changeful.

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