Obama's Muddled Foreign Policy
A good critique of Obama's position on Iraq by Niall Ferguson in the LaTimes.
Obama's stance on Iraq may yet prove to be his biggest vulnerability. Take a look at Obama's arguments for a speedy U.S. withdrawal. Last month, he asserted that "redeployment remains our best leverage to pressure the Iraqi government to achieve … political settlement between its warring factions." The key is "to give Iraqis their country back" because "no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else's civil war." But Obama's claim that a U.S. withdrawal would somehow "pressure the Sunni and Shia to come to the table and find peace" is a fraud. Withdrawal is much more likely to lead to an escalation of the internecine conflict that is tearing Iraq apart.In this sense, Obama I think would be wiser to shift to the Biden position of soft partition. Again I don't really want the US to lead the initiative because one conspiracy theory that is prevalent in the Arab world is that the US invaded Iraq in order to split it out. That conspiracy theory would then prove a correct one. I think the partition is happening on its own. I don't know how at this point there is any middle ground between staying in huge numbers for a decade or more and serious escalation of bloodshed. Even the Baker-Hamilton plan which would call for phased drawdown, increased troop training would led to some violent surge. In fact the training of the Iraqi Police only furthers the tension as the Police/Army are Shia institutions. But even staying in large numbers with or without a surge of 20,000 is not stopping the violence. It certainly isn't on the scale that it would be, so I don't know if a phased drawdown would split the difference or just lead to all out hell in all directions (I imagine some period of that is inevitable) as a scramble as the end game is in sight.
Obama also has accused the Bush administration of doing too little to stop the murderous policies of the Sudanese government toward the people of Darfur. In an article in December 2005, he went so far as to urge the deployment of "a U.N.- or NATO-led force." Wait a second. Here are two civil wars, each likely to spiral out of control. But in one (Sudan), Obama recommends intervention, while in the other (Iraq), he recommends military withdrawal. Am I missing something?
Bosnia again. NATO only had success in the former Yugoslavia once all the groups were separated (more or less). The dealing isn't going to begin as Ferguson correctly notes once the Americans just leave. It will only begin once the populations are self-segregated. There are a number of reasons I find myself pulled to Obama, but this is definitely not one of them.