The editors of The Washington Post say “good morning” to Barack Obama today. The entire editorial is brutal, but here are some of the highlights:
After hinting earlier this month that he might “refine” his Iraq strategy after visiting the country and listening to commanders, Mr. Obama appears to have decided that sticking to his arbitrary, 16-month timetable is more important than adjusting to the dramatic changes in Iraq…
The real difference between the various plans is not the dates but the conditions: Both the Iraqis and Mr. McCain say the withdrawal would be linked to the ability of Iraqi forces to take over from U.S. troops, as they have begun to do. Mr. Obama’s strategy allows no such linkage — his logic is that a timetable unilaterally dictated from Washington is necessary to force Iraqis to take responsibility for the country.
At the time he first proposed his timetable, Mr. Obama argued — wrongly, as it turned out — that U.S. troops could not stop a sectarian civil war. He conceded that a withdrawal might be accompanied by a “spike” in violence. Now, he describes as “an achievable goal” that “we leave Iraq to a government that is taking responsibility for its future — a government that prevents sectarian conflict and ensures that the al-Qaeda threat which has been beaten back by our troops does not reemerge.” How will that “true success” be achieved? By the same pullout that Mr. Obama proposed when chaos in Iraq appeared to him inevitable.
…American commanders will probably tell Mr. Obama that from a logistical standpoint, a 16-month withdrawal timetable will be difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill. Iraqis will say that a pullout that is not negotiated with the government and disregards the readiness of Iraqi troops will be a gift to al-Qaeda and other enemies. If Mr. Obama really intends to listen to such advisers, why would he lock in his position in advance?
“What’s missing in our debate,” Mr. Obama said yesterday, “is a discussion of the strategic consequences of Iraq.” Indeed: The message that the Democrat sends is that he is ultimately indifferent to the war’s outcome — that Iraq “distracts us from every threat we face” and thus must be speedily evacuated regardless of the consequences. That’s an irrational and ahistorical way to view a country at the strategic center of the Middle East, with some of the world’s largest oil reserves.
Like I said, brutal.
It’s really hard to picture the Post endorsing McCain this year, but Obama is making their instinctive endorsement of the Democrat much more difficult. (According to Fred Hiatt, the last Republican that the Post endorsed for president was Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. Then the Post didn’t endorse anyone until 1976 (Carter), and it hasn’t endorsed a Republican since. It issued no endorsement in 1988.)
In the eyes of the Post, Obama has been wrong about the biggest and most pressing foreign policy decision facing the country, and continues to double down on a wrong position. Can they endorse a man who they have concluded is “ultimately indifferent to the war’s outcome”?