Barack Obama, my former state senator, has been running to the left as the anti-war candidate in the Democratic primary. Since he wasn’t in the Senate in 2002, he can say that is the only major Democratic candidate to not vote for the war. But when John Kerry offered an amendment in 2006 to pull out, Obama went down to the Senate floor to fight against the Kerry amendment:
For all these reasons, I would like nothing more than to support the Kerry Amendment; to bring our brave troops home on a date certain, and spare the American people more pain, suffering and sorrow.
But having visited Iraq, I’m also acutely aware that a precipitous withdrawal of our troops, driven by Congressional edict rather than the realities on the ground, will not undo the mistakes made by this Administration. It could compound them.
It could compound them by plunging Iraq into an even deeper and, perhaps, irreparable crisis.
This guy was pretty articluate in defense of a responsible strategy in Iraq, even recognizing the moral obligation to stay that was so well explained by the Moms of Fury.
We must exit Iraq, but not in a way that leaves behind a security vacuum filled with terrorism, chaos, ethnic cleansing and genocide that could engulf large swaths of the Middle East and endanger America. We have both moral and national security reasons to manage our exit in a responsible way.
Now that Obama is running for President, he has changed his position, even though he hasn’t been to Iraq since this statement was made. Yesterday he said:
I believe that letting the Iraqi government know America will not be there forever is the best way to pressure the warring factions toward this political settlement, which is why my plan begins a phased withdrawal from Iraq on May 1st, 2007, with the goal of removing all combat troops by March 31st, 2008.
So is Obama contending that the facts have changed, even though he hasn’t been to Iraq since his June 2006 statements? People who have been there recently like John McCain or Max Boot (blogging here and here) disagree. Or is Obama contending that it is ok to have a "withdrawal of our troops… driven by Congressional edict rather than the realities on the ground?" Or is he arguing that there will not be a "security vacuum filled with terrorism, chaos, ethnic cleansing, and genocide that could engulf large swaths of the Middle East and endanger America?"
Or is he just double-talking for votes? And so much for "moral … reasons to manage our exit in a responsible way."