Posts Tagged ‘Pelosi’
First off, I would like to voice my disappoint in the United States’ Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who by her recent actions regarding the torture issue, has shown she values politics over national security. It is sad to know that she is third in line for the presidency. This embarrassing fiasco she end in her resignation as Speaker.
While Pelosi has been squirming, President Obama has been leading. His presidency has been full hard decisions regarding the US position and strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, one of the most dramatic being his recent firing of Gen. McKiernan and promotion of Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Obama clearly has a view of how he wants the Afghanistan conflict to be fought and he’s putting all his chips in, showcasing strong leadership that will hopefully be followed by good policy, well executed. It is important to note that Obama’s main domestic challenge in promoting and furthering his Afghan strategy will be from his own party. He has shown a willingness in this policy realm to push his agenda, but as the clock continues to tick, he will face greater rancor and upheaval over whether this fight is worth fighting from parts of his base. It is during these challenges, which will be coming sooner rather than later (and in some cases are already here), that Obama’s leadership on this issue will be put to a real test and he must be ready to spend political capital on the issue, just like Bush had to in regards to his Iraq policy.
While Obama has shown strong leadership on Afghanistan, his time and focus on Iraq has been somewhat wanting. Early in his term (it’s still early in his defense) he made his keynote speech on ending the war in Iraq and made a stopover in the country to praise our troops and push the Iraqi government towards reconciliation. But besides those moves, Obama has kept the strategic US and international security issue off the front pages and as a clear secondary issue compared to Afghanistan, showcased most dramatically by not getting an Ambassador (the experienced and talented Christoper Hill) into the precariously stable country until April 24.
CSIS scholar Anthony Cordesman has written an excellent piece calling for Obama, Congress, and the rest of us to not ‘forget’ this war. Cordesman states:
“Iraq has become both a perceived “victory” and a war that many Americans and members of Congress would like to forget. As a result, we may rush toward the “exit” without a strategy — and lose both the ongoing war and the peace that could follow.”
From this view point, Cordesman believes that the US should be extremely flexible in terms of removing US troops and personnel, especially if the Iraqi government wants them to stay. To Cordesman, the US should ‘make clear that we will be flexible about the speed and level of our withdrawal of U.S. forces if an elected Iraqi government needs a limited amount of added help to defeat al-Qaeda and establish national security.’ Cordesman also notes the crucial factors of making sure Iraq gets through their upcoming elections and low oil price-induced budget shortfalls in the next few years.
Obama’s Iraq policy and SOFA both left room for changes if the Iraqi government chose or conditions on the ground changed, but Obama’s emphasis on ‘ending’ the war will put him in a domestic political bind that will cost him political capital to get out of. I know that I have argued this before, but when I read the New York Times argue that the Afghan conflict is a ‘must win war’, I think, well what is Iraq then? A ‘maybe win war’? As I stated in GPP’s 2nd Podcast, if I had to choose, I would rather ‘win’ in Iraq than in Afghanistan. This is not downplaying the importance of Afghanistan by any means, but as Cordesman asserts, in ‘strategic terms, Vietnam was always expendable. Iraq and the Gulf are not.’ Contrary to what many say about US chances of stabilizing Afghanistan, Iraq has already proven to be a place where progress can be made and probably secured. Iraq is a key state of a key region. Its future will deeply impact America’s future and it deserves our FULL ATTENTION.