Friday, November 2, 2007

He Will Talk With Them!

Barak Obama is not exactly known for concreteness – or perhaps we in the media simply haven’t figured out the policy implications of “the audacity of hope.” In his satire of the last Democratic debate, David Brooks perfectly captures the essence of Barackian rhetoric: ”[T]he goal of my campaign is to make this county as noble as I am."

Well, on the same day that this little ditty appeared, Barack actually did get specific in an hour-long interview with the New York Times– and not just on the geo-strategic necessity of reaching out to Kenya but the prickly issues of Iraq and Iran.

The headline for the article – as it was on the Drudge Report – was “I'D TALK DIRECTLY WITH IRAN...”

Needless to say, Obama's willingness to actually conduct diplomacy would be a marked improvement over the current administration’s thinking that talking with your enemies only means that you’re giving in. Although Obama’s way of diplomacy might get tiresome fast: he claims he would “engage in aggressive personal diplomacy.” Obama’s “personal” diplomacy strikes me as the diplomacy of the photo op, the diplomacy of publicly hugging cute-looking third-world types.

Reading through the Times story, a few other concerns come to the fore:

Overall Obama tried to play Mr. Realist, claiming “There are no good options in Iraq.” This is certainly better than “let us spread democracy,” but is he so much more in touch with reality?

In terms of exit strategy, Obama think that, “based on conversations we’ve had internally as well as external reports,” only two brigades can be pulled out per month. Thus, he envisions as 16 month withdrawal period – that is to say, with Obama in the White House, we’d be out of there by April 2010 at the earliest. With the war costing 8 billion per month, Obama would only throw another 128 billion into the sand pit -- not bad!

I’ve never understood why withdrawing in an extended, domino-like fashion is any more difficult than ordering everyone out all at once. As Gregory Cochran has argued, the notion that we need to take home everything that we hauled over there – the hundreds of thousands of porto-potties and church pews included – seems completely perverse. Obama’s claim that his 16 month figure derives from his numerous “internal” conversation seems to be an obvious case of simply passing the buck -- "well, this is what the generals said."

I'm sure there are others in the arms industry, with lots of exorbitant government contracts, who would warn Obama of the perils of ending the occupation early, if he'd only ask.

But if the invasion was a mistake, and if “there are no good options,” then why on earth does Obama want to prolong the agony!?!

My guess is that, like Edwards, Obama wants to stop the war but keep the empire. That is, he wants to halt major operations but then leave significant forces in the region ostensibly to “stop genocide.” He can thus be both the peace candidate for the move-on/dailykos liberals, but then continue ot expand America’s presence abroad to please the globalists.

This desire to seem like a figure of “change” – an Obama mantra – but then basically keep all the Bush-era policies also runs throughout Obama’s description of his “personal” diplomacy with Iran. In wooing Tehran, Obama says he’s willing to promises that “we won’t seek regime change.” As opposed to seeing intervention around the globe as an inherently unwise course of action, Obama wants to use it as a bargaining chip.