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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Friday, April 04, 2008


Obama will not withdraw from Iraq

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, April 04, 2008 permalink View blog reactions
as I have been arguing repeatedly, no Democratic President will leave Iraq. This is just further evidence.

A key adviser to Senator Obama's campaign is recommending in a confidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.

The paper, obtained by The New York Sun, was written by Colin Kahl for the center-left Center for a New American Security. In "Stay on Success: A Policy of Conditional Engagement," Mr. Kahl writes that through negotiations with the Iraqi government "the U.S. should aim to transition to a sustainable over-watch posture (of perhaps 60,000-80,000 forces) by the end of 2010 (although the specific timelines should be the byproduct of negotiations and conditions on the ground)."

and, frankly, I think "conditional engagement" is valid and that a total withdrawal of all combat forces would be foolish to our self interest as well as Iraq's. Withdrawal and stay the course need not be the only options. Staying the course as McCain would have us do is of course untenable, but there is a blood cost to total withdrawal as well.

A good question for Obama would be, does he support the Euston Manifesto? Where does he disagree, if at all?

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However, it's not what many Obama voters think they're getting, and it's not what Obama's selling in many of his speeches when he attacks the war as a waste of resources.

For those of us who want all the way out of Iraq, "A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq" is the major vehicle, and we're adapting to the notion of being in opposition to a Democratic president, too.

I think you're wrong about Iraq. We're now involved willy-nilly in taking sides in an endless civil war; given our resources vs. Iraqis, that simply prolongs that Sunni vs Shia vs. Shia civil war and postpones a political settlement rather than hastening one. The recent episode of supporting Maliki vs Badr bears me out, I think.


Isnt it wierd, Thomas, how you and I started out on opposite sides of the Iraq war question and now find ourselves where we are? Not that we have simply inverted our positions; I think we both have moved forward, but in different directions.

At any rate, i have seen the Responsible Plan but without the chess piece of some troop presence in Iraq, I don't see how any of the other relevant planks (diplomacy, humanitarian concerns) can be executed. I would be very grateul for a debate on this, though, especially if you were to critique my piece on "blood cost of withdrawal" in particular.

As far as Iraq's situation now, there is no civil war. Thats finished. Maliki and Sadr are both Shi'a - and the misconception that the problem is still Suni vs Shia violence is prevalent on the left. Overall I find the level of information very poor among those who advocate total wthdrawal.

In Iraq now it's basically an armed power struggle between Shi'a factions, layered onto a number of other issues, all of which are resolvable with better leadership in Washington - which we get in 2009. But in the absence of some meaningful troops in the country, we tie our hands.

To be honest, if you read the VSP crowd (Aardvark, CSIS, AF, etc) regularly you will see a very different picture of Iraq emerge than what you get from the leftblogsphere.


Aziz...thanks for taking the time to correct my post. I have reread your post and it is the verbiage that still has me befuddled a bit.

I have corrected the post.

I would appreciate it if you took another look at the post to see if the correction is acceptable.



done, no worries. thanks for updating it.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.