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Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Obama: Hoist by his own petard

John McCain is scoring points on Barack Obama by touting the alleged "success" of the "surge," and Obama is reduced to arguing that there hasn't been "political reconciliation" in Iraq, and that the U.S. should be focusing on escalating (a word he avoids, just as Bush and McCain avoided using it with respect to Iraq) the war in Afghanistan, and increasing the U.S. response to Iran (where Obama continues to lie by claiming that "Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons") and Russia (where Obama also lies by claiming that "There is no possible justification for Russia’s actions" - he should read this article by a Canadian professor of philosophy if he's looking for a "possible justification") and Pakistan.

Why can't he take on the argument directly? Because he's hoist by his own petard, a victim of the fact that, from that start, he never had a principled opposition to the invasion of Iraq. I've written about this several times, but let's look at what he said to the Veterans of Foreign Wars:

"Six years ago, I stood up at a time when it was politically difficult to oppose going to war in Iraq, and argued that our first priority had to be finishing the fight against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in Afghanistan...I warned that war would fan the flames of extremism in the Middle East, create new centers of terrorism, and tie us down in a costly and open-ended occupation."
From the start, Obama's opposition to the war has been a "cost-benefit analysis." Not once has he said the war was illegal or immoral. He can't condemn the invasion itself as a war crime that has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and displaced millions of them, not only because that would make him persona non grata with the American ruling class in whose good graces he must remain in order to be elected, but also because he simply doesn't believe that.

Take a look at his "rebuttal" to the "success" of the surge:

"We have lost over a thousand American lives and spent hundreds of billions of dollars since the surge began, but Iraq’s leaders still haven’t made hard compromises or substantial investments in rebuilding their country."
So the "cost" of the surge according to Obama has been entirely to the Americans; evidently no Iraqis have died in that time. But the blame for the alleged lack of success of the "surge," according to Obama, is entirely on the Iraqis.

Obama's lack of principled opposition to the invasion wasn't just words, of course. All along, until (if I recall correctly) the very last vote, he has voted for every allocation of money for the war (not "for the troops," what a load of you-know-what), votes which were a direct consequence of his unprincipled opposition to the war. Because once the war has started, then the only possible objection Obama could make would be the "throwing good money after bad" argument, i.e., a continued cost-benefit analysis. As a result, Obama has a hard time countering McCain's attempt to rewrite the history of the Iraq war as beginning with the "surge," because he too fundamentally accepts the idea that the war on the people of Iraq can be "won" by the United States.

Hoist by his own petard.

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