The Campaign Spot

Can Obama’s Iraq Discussions Become a Major Issue?

I had been a little wary about the allegations of Amir Taheri in the New York Post. He quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as saying that during his Baghdad visit, Barack Obama demanded that Iraq not negotiate with the Bush Administration on the withdrawal of American troops. Instead, he asked that they delay such negotiations until after the presidential handover at the end of January.
Taheri’s claims have run into objections in the past, and he’s been unable to back up his claims to some outside observers’ satisfaction. It doesn’t mean he’s wrong now, but the past controversies called for caution. The other thing is, how reliable is the word of this Iraqi minister he’s quoting? Is it possible these comments are aimed to influence the current administration/McCain? Does he want to gum up the works in negotiations further?
Of course, the Obama pushback on this… well, pretty much confirmed the broad outlines, just asserting that telling Zebari to delay negotiations is okie-dokie. And while yesterday’s campaign response insisted that Obama didn’t want to delay the Status of Force Agreement, just the Strategic Framework Agreement, an NBC report at the time said it was indeed the Status of Forces Agreement that Obama urged be delayed.
Will voters object to Obama going off and telling Iraq not to reach a deal until after the elections? I wish they would, but I have doubts. A PAC is running an ad on this, but I’m not sure the average voter realizes the danger of a presidential candidate going around and making his own counteroffers to foreign governments. Maybe this will catch on if the argument is put simply enough: America has one commander-in-chief at a time; a country that has legislators posing as self-appointed diplomats trapsing around the globe, each seeking to negotiate their own separate peace, has no foreign policy at all.
Beyond all that, the Logan Act is the only law I know that’s less enforced than the 55 mph speed limit…

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