FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
“Campaign Promises on Ending the War in Iraq Now Muted by Reality “
Hey, don’t scowl at me: scowl at the New York Times. It’s their headline:
WASHINGTON – On the campaign trail, Senator Barack Obama offered a pledge that electrified and motivated his liberal base, vowing to “end the war” in Iraq.
But as he moves closer to the White House, President-elect Obama is making clearer than ever that tens of thousands of American troops will be left behind in Iraq, even if he can make good on his campaign promise to pull all combat forces out within 16 months.
“I said that I would remove our combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, with the understanding that it might be necessary – likely to be necessary – to maintain a residual force to provide potential training, logistical support, to protect our civilians in Iraq,” Mr. Obama said this week as he introduced his national security team.
Publicly at least, Mr. Obama has not set a firm number for that “residual force,” a phrase certain to become central to the debate on the way ahead in Iraq, though one of his national security advisers, Richard Danzig, said during the campaign that it could amount to 30,000 to 55,000 troops. Nor has Mr. Obama laid out any timetable beyond 16 months for troop drawdowns, or suggested when he believes a time might come for a declaration that the war is over.
Permit me to translate: after roughly four years of telling the American people that he’d end the war lickety-split if only they elected him, the next President of the United States will… pretty much do what the current President of the United States is doing with regard to Iraq. 55K troops is more than South Korea’s, more than Japan’s, and about the same as Germany’s: it’s also a perfectly reasonable number of American forces to put there, under the circumstances, but try telling that to the antiwar movement. That last bit is a rhetorical flourish, by the way, as nobody in the Obama administration is going to bother trying to tell or persuade the antiwar movement anything. They’re just going to do it and assume that the progressives will come up with their own rationalizations about why the Master loves them, and would never betray them.
I must admit, there’s an existing history of precisely that behavior pattern.
PS: Incidentally, if any of you reading this are the sort who had decided to donate your luxury budget to the Obama campaign, on the grounds that getting him elected would end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan post haste… I just wanted you to know that I had a wonderful time in Hawaii.