Editorial Column: Obama’s Edge Over McCain on Iraq War

The Huffington Post

October 7, 2008 – Both McCain’s and Obama’s Iraq policies are too ambiguous for the layperson to comprehend. It is clear that if you want to expedite the process of getting out of Iraq, Obama is your candidate. If you want to remain in Iraq indefinitely to acheive a so-called “victory” prior to redeploying our troops, McCain is your candidate. Both candidates claim they want stability Iraq, but their plans to acheive that stability are polar opposites. The question is: Who has the best plan? Clearly it is Obama. Now more than ever Obama needs to effectively articulate his plan to the American people in order for them to make an informed decision when they vote on election day — especially for those who are voting on the issues of Iraq and the economy.

Senator Obama’s plan recognizes the strain on our military and significantly cuts troop levels in Iraq by one to two military brigades per month. If this plan were to be carried out successfully, almost all U.S. military personnel would be out of Iraq by 2010 — with the exception of residual forces left behind to protect U.S. diplomats, conduct counter-terrorism operations, and train Iraqi security forces. Also, the Obama plan to leave troop elements behind would have conditions: the Iraqis would have to politically reconcile and end sectarianism.

This plan sounds almost perfect. However, it doesn’t clearly define exactly what military component the residual forces will consist of, how many will remain, and for how long. Would we depend solely on elite units such as Special Operations? Or would we leave behind an entire military division? If we were to pull our troops out and Iraq fell back into a chaotic civil war, how could the residual force pacify a large scale Iraqi uprising? This plan seems to be crafted under the assumption that the insurgency and Al-Qaeda would no longer exist and American troops and civilians could possibly move about safely in Iraq without a sizable military presence.

John McCain’s plan is to continue on the current path. Senator McCain takes great pride in the tactical success of the “surge” strategy implemented by General Petraeus and has repeated his perceived necessity to see it through. However, the last of the “surge” brigades have already redeployed stateside and we still have the same number of troops in Iraq as we did prior to the escalation.

McCain’s main case for a successful completion of the mission in Iraq is indifferent from that of President Bush: When Iraqi forces can safeguard their own country, American troops can return home. When will that be? When it costs the American taxpayer 10 billion dollars per month and the lives of our troops we deserve to have some estimated time for an end point.

McCain’s Iraq policy also includes an undefined plan that would supposedly jumpstart a “vibrant” and “growing” economy that would provide alternatives for young Iraqi men who have turned to extremist/insurgent organizations for monetary reasons. Our own economy is in absolute turmoil, and under the McCain plan American money would be used to provide jobs and economic prosperity to Iraqis who have been murdering our service-people.

There is something treasonous about telling American troops they have to fight and die in Iraq while we pay off and cut deals with those who are killing them. If I were Obama I would hammer that message home — because it’s the honest truth. How do you tell the mother of a U.S. soldier killed in action that her son died at the hand of an insurgent now on our payroll?

The political climate is perfect for Obama. His campaign just needs to unleash the arsenal of dreadful truths of the McCain-endorsed Bush policies in Iraq that has unnecessarily caused the deaths of over 4,000 U.S. troops and an uncountable number of Iraqi civilians, run up our national debt, empowered our adversaries, alienated our allies, and left the world a worse place then when George W. Bush found it — all done with the full support of Senator John McCain.

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