In today's misstep, Obama jumped on a mis-quote from a foreign paper to claim an endorsement of his policies by the Iraqi leader. As a candidate, this put our ally in a tough position of having to clearly clarify his remark and correct the error. If Obama was President, this would have been an international incident.
Any reasonably intelligent person would have known better than to believe everything you read in the papers. And while a LOT of bloggers and even some reporters jumped on the mis-reported information, we expect the leader of the free world to be more circumspect, to fully evaluate information before jumping to conclusions, and to NOT publicly humiliate other foreign leaders who are our allies in the war on terror.
First, from Fox News, Obama stepping in it:
The apparent endorsement of a cornerstone of Obama’s foreign policy drew swift praise from the Obama camp. But the White House stressed that any timelines are contingent on “security gains” in the region.
Senator Obama welcomes Prime Minister Maliki’s support for a 16 month timeline for the redeployment of U.S combat brigades,” Obama foreign policy adviser Susan Rice said in a statement Saturday. “This presents an important opportunity to transition to Iraqi responsibility, while restoring our military and increasing our commitment to finish the fight in Afghanistan.”
This forced Maliki to publicly dispute the report, which most certainly wasn't helpful for his leadership, but was necessary before Obama made any more stupid statements and really damaged our relationship. Iraqi PM disputes report on withdrawal plan:
But a spokesman for al-Maliki said his remarks "were misunderstood, mistranslated and not conveyed accurately."
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the possibility of troop withdrawal was based on the continuance of security improvements, echoing statements that the White House made Friday after a meeting between al-Maliki and U.S. President Bush.
In the magazine interview, Al-Maliki said his remarks did not indicate that he was endorsing Obama over presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain.
"Who they choose as their president is the Americans' business. But it's the business of Iraqis to say what they want. And that's where the people and the government are in general agreement: The tenure of the coalition troops in Iraq should be limited," he said.
This of course is what we all want, and what the President has been working for, and what McCain's position is -- that we will stop fighting when the war is won, that we will as quickly as we can get our troops out of harms way.
This is NOT what Obama wants. In fact Obama wanted all of our troops out by March of 2008. That's 5 months ago, before the surge had finished working, before the gains became so entrenched that we reasonably can say the war is over. Under Obama's plan, we never had the surge, we pulled out while Sadr's troops controlled the south, while Iran still ran all over the country, while the government was in disarray, and the Iraqi military unable to control the violence.
Obama's plan was to leave an Iraq embroiled in a civil war run by Iran, turning the country into an enemy of the United States, threatening the entire Mideast supply of oil, and causing terrible harm to the war on terror.
Obama has stubbornly stuck to his plan, even as Iraq met goal after goal related to the Surge. In fact, even now Obama is claiming there is no political process -- while Iraq announces that the Sunnis have rejoined the government. It is like a sad parody, almost any time Obama speaks anything of substance, he is proven wrong within the news cycle.
But remember -- at some time, Obama will be "right", because at some time it will be time to withdraw. At some time, it will be 16 months until we are done. It's quite possible that time is today -- things are going well after all.
But after saying for 17 months that we needed to pull out our troops, Obama can no longer rationally claim to be "right" when that day finally comes, any more than the guy who every day plays the same lottery ticket is somehow a "prognosticator" if one day he hits some of his numbers.