Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Manna From Heaven: The Iraqis Want Us To Leave

Seldom has fate dealt us such a fortuitous hand. The single most important bit of news this year and it's not getting nearly as much play as it should. I can only hope that the right people notice it.
Per the AP:
Iraq's national security adviser said Tuesday his country will not accept any security deal with the United States unless it contains specific dates for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces.
The comments by Mouwaffak al-Rubaie were the strongest yet by an Iraqi official about the deal now under negotiation with U.S. officials. They came a day after Iraq's prime minister first said publicly that he expects the pending troop deal with the United States to have some type of timetable for withdrawal.
President Bush has said he opposes a timetable. The White House said Monday it did not believe Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was proposing a rigid timeline for U.S. troop withdrawals.

It is looking more and more like the Iraqis won't agree to a security deal without a date certain. The White House seems to be balking. This is great news for a few reasons.

Per the State Department:
"The U.S. government and the government of Iraq are in agreement that we, the U.S. government, we want to withdraw, we will withdraw. However, that decision will be conditions-based," said U.S. State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos.

It hasn't really hardened yet, but the two sides appear to be digging in some. If this really does become an open confrontation then Senator McCain will be in a murderously tough position and Senator Obama will be in a fantastic spot. President Bush once said:
"We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. This is a sovereign nation. Twelve million people went to the polls to approve a constitution. It's their government's choice,’’ the president said during a Rose Garden news conference. "If they were to say leave, we would leave."

If he backs off of that there will be hell to pay, both with the Iraqis and with us here at home. Senator Obama could very easily pounce on this by saying something to the effect of "I'm all for a graceful and careful phased withdrawal, but if the Iraqis want us gone by a certain feasible date, well, then that's that." If he goes there then Senator McCain has to either agree with him or flat out insist on a hostile occupation against the stated position of the sovereign state of Iraq.
The smartest thing that President Bush could possibly do is to declare victory because the Iraqi state is finally ready to stand on its own (which he would not believe) and spin it as best he could. I doubt he's that smart, especially in light of the fact that the big oil companies have thus far been unable to negotiate the contracts they want with the Iraqi government (the oil companies want oil revenue sharing while the Iraqis want to pay them a fixed amount for services rendered).
Oh, and it gets our boys and girls home faster. That's absolutely fantastic. This is a win-win from every angle I can see, so long as the Iraqis can hold it together once we're gone.

My Zimbio
Top Stories

Monday, July 7, 2008

Swing for the fences!

Over-reach is good. Eyes bigger than your stomach are good. Cat-killing curiousity is great. Knocking a bunch of dingers out of the park is fantastic.

As has often been the case of late, my thoughts turn to the November election. While others have found cause for concern I have rejoiced. Senator Obama is plotting a course that substantively mirrors what I expected of him last year. He is demonstrating a pragmatism and frankly ideological consistency that many folks are missing. Far too many have accused him of peddling this "New Politics" and then delivering a centrist platform. They claim that this is some kind of "bait and switch." I find this notion hilarious.

Swinging for the fences does not require that you do something completely new and unexpected. Rather it means that you put as much power and heart into your swing as you've got. Either go big or go home. A lot of my erstwhile Liberal colleagues get that sentiment generally, but they sadly miss the point with Senator Obama. Some of my friends who supported Senator Hillary Clinton have accused him (and us) of pushing her aside for her willingness to work from the center only to have Senator Obama do the same. This assessment is fair, but it only works at first blush.

Senator Obama's position on nearly every controversial issue of late has been fairly consistent for the last few years. He has said repeatedly that he opposed the Iraq War at the start and intends to end it, but the means and method of withdrawal would be fixed around the actual facts of the matter. If our flag officers think we should slow the withdrawal or focus our ever-diminishing resources in a particular area, he'd probably do it. I think this is a sensible position, and its one that cost him some political points earlier on. I think a lot of folks missed the fact that his sixteen month timeline for withdrawal was aspirational.

If one looks at the other so-called "flip-flops" they will see that, with the exception of the retroactive civil immunity for the telecommunications companies, Senator Obama's substantive position has moved very little. Instead, two things have happened. First he has begun to emphasize those aspects of his positions that have an appeal to the center or indeed even the right. Second the Netroots folks have begun to realize that the Democratic nominee isn't looking to kick in Republican teeth. There's a bit of buyer's remorse going on here.

I expected that there would be some significant cognitive dissonance on the part of the Daily Kos and MoveOn types after Barack Obama clinched the nomination. The better angels of his nature tend to win out politically. He doesn't go for a knock out punch to win his political battles. He's more subtle, and more conciliatory. If you haven't before, I suggest you read up on his time running the Harvard Law Review. The Politico had a good piece on it (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0608/11257.html). In that article they make it plain that Obama secured the presidency of Harvard Law Review by assuring the conservative members that he would treat them fairly. He delivered on that promise. I recommend this article to anyone who has questions about Obama's disposition towards conservatives.

Why do I bring this up? Obama isn't looking to obliterate the other side. He's looking to defeat them, yes, but not humiliate them. It's pretty plain to me that he sees that conservatives generate some good ideas and serve as a useful brake on our liberal excesses in taxing and spending. Compromise isn't only useful as a tool for accomplishing a part of what you want in the face of opposition. Compromise can often moderate an overly-pure position that would be impractical if implemented.

I'm unabashedly liberal, but I do not think that liberals have a monopoly on truth or good policy. I make it a point to listen to my conservative friends and colleagues because I can learn from them (and hopefully vice versa). Reason and discourse have carried me this far and I don't intend to discard them anytime soon. I think I saw this in Senator Obama fairly early on and nothing he has done to this point disabuses me of that notion.

The Left will never really succeed in driving policy if it ignores the Right or its concerns. Our system of government is too respectful of minority rights for that to happen short of a seismic electoral shift. Barack Obama will take progressive ideas further because he's willing to make sane compromises that may lead to a better bill because of the involvement of the other side.

Good legislation is a synthesis.

My Zimbio
Top Stories

Bloggification Commencicon!

Good evening, Internets. I hope you can here me throughout this series of tubes. I have no idea if anyone will actually care to read any of this, or whatever is to follow. However unlikely an audience may be I think it is time to chip in what little perspective I've got. I think an introduction is in order.

I'm Reaper0Bot0. That's "reaper" followed by a zero, then "bot" followed by another zero. My handle is a reference to the game Quake, which apparently makes me something of a dinosaur. It is not pronounced "Reaper oh Bot oh." Rather, it is "reaper zero bot zero" or just "reaper bot." It is not some script kiddie reference or any other such foolishness.

I'm a law student at the University of Akron in Ohio. I have a year remaining in my studies and after that, well, I don't know. I have some ideas and I'm trying to work them out. I am center-left Democrat with considerable interest in foreign policy and somewhat less interest in social policy (though it still matters a great deal to me). I have been an avid supporter of Senator Barack Obama since the tail end of 2007. I am not here to bash Republicans or mock them generally. I believe in honest and meaningful discourse between the two parties. I am not an ideologue.

What can you expect from this blog? Political commentary, mostly, with discussion of the law, transportation, energy policy, and basically whatever else holds my attention long enough to post about it. I'm particularly hyperactive, which will either be a boon or an encumberance. We'll just have to see.

Please forgive the lack of substance in this first blog. I've been doing some blogging at MyDD.com and the Daily Kos to get acclimated. At this point and going forward I will try to focus my efforts here, with some cross-posting I would expect.

Thank you, to whomever actually reads this missive. More is to come, and there will actually be substance worthy of your time.

My Zimbio
Top Stories