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Tilting at Windmills

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July 20, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

OBAMA, THE PRESS, AND IRAQ....The big story on Saturday was Spiegel's interview with Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki in which he endorsed Barack Obama's 16-month timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Bush administration was so unnerved by this that they mistakenly sent an email to the entire White House press corps headlined "Iraqi PM backs Obama troop exit plan." Oops. Then they followed this up by leaning on Maliki to retract, an effort made clumsily transparent by releasing the Iraqi statement via the U.S. military's Central Command press office.

The retraction claimed that Maliki's comments were "misunderstood, mistranslated and not conveyed accurately," which might be plausible if there were only a single sentence in question. However, how likely is it that Spiegel mistranslated three separate comments? Here are the relevant excerpts from the interview:

Today, we in Iraq want to establish a timeframe for the withdrawal of international troops — and it should be short.

....U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.

....Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic....The tenure of the coalition troops in Iraq should be limited.

There's just no way that all three of these passages were mistranslated. Maliki, for whatever reason (Mark Kleiman runs down the possibilities here), wants American troops out, and he wants them out sooner rather than later. There's really no way to spin that away.

This is, obviously, bad news for John McCain. As Joe Klein says, McCain's original support of the surge, which is his main talking point on Iraq policy, "is a small, tactical truth too complicated to be understood by most Americans. Maliki Endorses Obama Withdrawal Plan is a headline everyone can understand."

Which is true enough, but only if that's the headline the U.S. media actually decides on. Unfortunately, we're in sort of a fluid phase right now in which the press seems unsure of what narrative to adopt on the current state of American foreign policy. Consider: (a) negotiations with North Korea have recently started paying off, (b) we sent a U.S. diplomat to talk with Iran over the weekend and are apparently thinking about opening an interests section in Tehran, (c) the security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating, leading to calls for an increased troop presence, and (d) Maliki has endorsed the idea of a 16-month withdrawal timeline from Iraq. All of these are directions that Obama has endorsed for some time.

So does the press decide that this means Obama has shown good judgment and good instincts in foreign affairs? That seems like it would be the most reasonable interpretation, but alternatively the press could decide that what this really means is that there are now very few differences between Obama and McCain on foreign policy — without implying any judgment about who was right and who was wrong. That's a stretch, but it would be nice and faux-neutral, something that appeals to reporters.

Or, who knows? Maybe something entirely different will bubble up from the press corps. This ought to be a pretty good foreign policy moment for Obama, but we won't know for sure until the media narrative takes shape. Stay tuned.

Kevin Drum 1:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (65)

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Comments

The cooling of tensions with Iran and violence in Iraq helps the country be a bit more objective. I believe the country was emotional about Iraq war in 2004 so it was easy for Rove to control the message and make an AWOL Bush look better than a war-hero Kerry.

As we approach November, I believe the country will be more emotional about the domestic economy and will have less appetite for projecting violence abroad, so Obama's foreign policy message, which is generally well understood and is proving to be more in tune with reality than McCain's "bomb, bomb, bomb" and "100 years of occupation", will resonate with them.

Posted by: rational on July 20, 2008 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

I'm "only" 36, but I don't remember the media ever being as stupid as they've been this year, Iraq war included. I have no explanation for it. Why can't they just say the truth, that Obama is winning? One goddam SNL sketch?

Posted by: Chris on July 20, 2008 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

Chris, put yourselves in the corporate MSM's shoes. If they admit that Obama is better, they can't sell their shrill, left vs right "debate" shows. There want to keep as much controversy alive as they can to make money off of election coverage, manufacturing controversy if there isn't much to begin with. I think it is that simple -- follow the money.

Posted by: rational on July 20, 2008 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

I don't remember the media ever being as stupid as they've been this year

They aren't being stupid. They know exactly what they are doing. And what they are doing is putting as heavy a thumb on the scales as they can for McCain and against Obama. Why? because their corporate ownership renders the media unable to do anything other than be instinctively Republican.

The good news is it won't work - McCain is a weak candidate, and the election fundamentals are too strong for him to overcome even if he wasn't weak. The bad news is that this travesty of a media will continue just as before once Obama is elected. The question for the next presidential term will be whether the media is strong enough to stop Obama and/or force him to kowtow, or if the past few years have been enough to so damage their credibility that they'll be impotent.

Posted by: jimBOB on July 20, 2008 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

I am beginning to become more and more certain that Obama is getting more talented at nudging the press. His team will be able influence which mene gets play.

Posted by: keith g on July 20, 2008 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for addressing this in today's panel discussion. I'll try to be a little more articulate in posing the questions I had about these developments.

The premise is that National Security/Foreign Policy is the one area where McCain is polling better than Obama in terms of the public's trust and confidence. Everything else - the economy, health care, the environment - all are huge advantages for Obama.

So how do you exploit that advantage? By clumsily adopting Obama's message on Afghanistan? By opening talks with Iran? By agreeing on withdraw "horizons?" All in a matter of a couple of weeks?

Is Bush undermining McCain on purpose, or as you offered today, doing it out of a need for a legacy, and McCain is just collateral damage?

And if you're McCain, why would you want to de-emphasize the Foreign Policy/National Security differences with Obama, which can only result in spotlighting the differences you have with him on issues where he beats you badly?

I'm paranoid enough to think that it's all a set-up somehow, but I'm also open to believing that Bush doesn't give a shit about McCain and McCain's campaign is as hopeless as most of its moves so far indicate.

If Obamam wins, it might be this last two weeks, culminating in Maliki's endorsement, that put him over the top, removing the last big advantage McCain had going for him.

Posted by: Jim on July 20, 2008 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

Here is the Reuters lede.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki did not back the plan of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and his comments to a German magazine on the issue were misunderstood, the government's spokesman said on Sunday.

Notice how that sentence is written. Somebody skimming the damn thing would think there was some reason to believe the government. The Yahoo headline isn't any better.

This story is being buried, and buried fast. The press can't have the truth getting out. The are McCain's base after all.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 20, 2008 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

Rupert Murdoch is the Joseph Goebbels of our day. That the people of the United States have allowed Murdoch and his Fox minions to gain sway here is a damning indictment.

Unfortunately, I think not even a Kristallnacht will wake a majority of Americans out of their stupor. We shall see if Obama, backed by a Democratic Congress and facing a national economic emergency, can break the corporate media monopoly and put the country back on track.

Posted by: Trust Buster on July 20, 2008 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

if you're McCain, why would you want to de-emphasize the Foreign Policy/National Security differences with Obama

Whatever advantage McCain has here isn't based on the issues; it's based on people's personal assessment of McCain as tough guy. If you look at the issues themselves, people hate the war and want it over, and McCain wants the occupation to go on forever. So McCain's "advantage" on this will likely dissolve over time as people come to understand what McCain's real positions are.

This campaign will not end up revolving around issues. It's going to end up being about whether or not the GOP can ride racism back to power one more time. I don't think they can or will. But they're going to give it a good hard try. Reverend Wright and "he's a muslim" were the warmup, the main event will feature much more of the same as the campaign goes along.

Posted by: jimBOB on July 20, 2008 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

This story is being buried, and buried fast. The press can't have the truth getting out.

Yes, precisely as I would have expected. I'm amazed that anyone thought it would go any other way.

Posted by: jimBOB on July 20, 2008 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

Any claim which Obama may make to have good judgment founders utterly upon his opposition to the surge.

Posted by: a on July 20, 2008 at 5:47 AM | PERMALINK

Only Obama can force the media to acknowledge the truth of what Maliki said. They're not going to do it without some gentle poking. If Obama develops the right talking point (Iraq is a democracy, its people and its fairly elected prime minister have endorsed my withdrawl plan)and repeats it over and over, the press will have to repeat it.

Posted by: silver heron on July 20, 2008 at 5:55 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if other Americans (or at least those who actually consume the news) are as tired as I am of having David Petraeus insult our intelligence.

Posted by: Carla B. on July 20, 2008 at 7:08 AM | PERMALINK

"...David Petraeus insult our intelligence."
Posted by: Carla B.


How so?

Posted by: majarosh on July 20, 2008 at 7:36 AM | PERMALINK

How bad is the news for McSHAME if even on WJ this morning (with Fred Kagan as guest) the host shared the headline/story about Maliki's "retraction" of his comments!????? I'm betting that the MSM will make more of his pull back than they have of his original agreement with OBAMA...because as yet another sad caller on WJ bemoaned..."the DEMS are trying to take all the GLORY from Bush"...poor baby!

Posted by: Dancer on July 20, 2008 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

so the guy that barack obama has said is basically a bum that has squandered the opportunity that america has given him, nuri al-maliki, may have agreed with the notion of us troop drawdown...
and now he's a statesman that should be believed.

the left has to get beyond this 'useful idiot' thing where guys they previously revile and savage--brownie, mcclellan, now maliki--suddenly become truth tellers and geniuses.

at least when republicans trot out guys like lieberman and zell who were not completely trashed by republicans prior to there 'conversions'

i guess the closest the dems have is chuck hagel, who became a bit of a joke

Posted by: nitish on July 20, 2008 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

Maliki is very careful to not endorse Obama:

Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq would cause problems. Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans' business.

All he is saying is that Obama has the right idea on withdrawal while McCain is an idiot on this topic. Trust Americans who can never be subtle, to see subtlety where none is intended. No wonder the American Empire lasted all of about one minute before going into decline.

Posted by: blowback on July 20, 2008 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin is probably right. The corprotate media will spin this as showing that Obama and mcCAin are the same. I don't see how that hurts Obama, however. The people who are thinking of voting for him have enough sense and are well informed enough to notice that Obama is in favor of a pull out. That's the bottom line on foreighn policy.

Usually we have the T candidate framing foreign policy with the D running behind saying, "Me to, but not as much!" This year no matter how the corporate press spins it, tis the other way around.

Posted by: wonkie on July 20, 2008 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

>"Is Bush undermining McCain on purpose, or as you offered today, doing it out of a need for a legacy, and McCain is just collateral damage? "

Wondering if the repubs have written off a McCain presidency.

Now the party is merely attempting to hold onto seats in the Senate and House. I imagine there is probably a literal shitstorm of back-room pressure on Bush to 'do something right' before the elections. (detente with Iran comes to mind)

As I see it McCain is being tossed under the proverbial bus for the good of the party.

Posted by: Buford on July 20, 2008 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

This ought to be a pretty good foreign policy moment for Obama, but we won't know for sure until the media narrative takes shape.

Obviously, this is good news for McCain -- and for Hillary! And for Bush!

Remember, it is easier to change the government than to change The Master Narrative.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 20, 2008 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

And speaking of leaving Iraq, does anyone know if those western no-bid oil contracts were actaully signed?

Because this guy, "Lawrence J. Korb, assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information" delcares that the Iraqis have indeed SIGHED the no-bid oil contracts.

The Iraqi government now produces 2.5 million barrels a day, and with the contracts it has recently signed with Western companies, it soon will begin producing even more. This means that the Iraqis will be bringing in $100 billion to $200 billion a year.


With the exception of HUNT Oil and that whatever that congressman in Colorado had signed with the Kurds, WHAT other contracts were signed? It would seem like Lawrence J. Korb would know for sure? What contracts have we signed? IF indeed Iraq has signed with the Big Oil companies - why hasn't that been on the news?

Posted by: Me_again on July 20, 2008 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

>Is Bush undermining McCain on purpose, or as you offered today, doing it out of a need for a legacy, and McCain is just collateral damage?

I would not be surprised if the same "powers-that-be" behind today's Rethug party (you know, the crony capitalists that laugh at the evangelicals behind their back) Do Not Want The Next President To Be A Republican.

Deep down, or maybe not so deeply, I bet those people are fantasizing another Nixon-Carter-Reagan procession. I mean, what else do they have to cling to?

Maybe Clinton was supposed to work this way, too, but he was a bit too charismatic *and* they didn't manage to have a real "star" on their bench to go against him in '96.

McCain has no idea of this, of course.

Simply, this all makes sense if you just see them as a party of goddamed locusts:

1) Loot, steal, and generally fuck up America to the benefit of a very few.
2) Dump the damage on a Democratic administration whilst you go underground a bit, chomping at the roots of whatever he tries to do.
3) When some success does occur, find some "It's Morning in America" dude to replace the Democrat and start over again.

Look, this doesn't seem accidental anymore:
1) Nixon ("the new") - strong candidate, powerful president
2) Ford - nice well-liked guy, not a vote-getter
3) Reagan - very strong candidate, powerful president
4) Bush I - squeaked in somehow probably to his own backer's surprise. Don't let Bush II change your perceptions of this guy, he was pretty Eisenhower ("voodoo economics") just not blessed with a great backbone.
5) Bob Dole - well liked on both sides of the aisle, not a great vote-getter
6) Bush II - very strong candidate (young, apparently pedigreed, great glad-hander), powerful president
7) John McCain - well liked on both sides of the aisle, not a great .... hey, haven't I typed this before?

Posted by: doesn't matter on July 20, 2008 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Maliki is simply playing both sides of the aisle. What else would you expect him to do? If he choses A and B wins, then he is screwed. And why the sudden stock in what he has to say? He's gone backwards on his words many times before.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 20, 2008 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

"Obama conveyed ... that he is committed to supporting Afghanistan and to continue the war against terrorism with vigor"

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5i93McMPYxNe5I5luHeUstklGV2RgD921L6R80

I'm starting to wonder if Obama is a Rove plant. Or maybe he's been drugged with that kool-aid that apparently the Dems, recently elected to the house and senate, have been drinking, the stuff that's made them take completely contradictory positions to those they were elected to represent.

It's not too late for Gore!

Posted by: Dismayed on July 20, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

On another note, did you notice, Kevin, that Lee Siegel took unattributed the idea I first read here that the New Yorker Obama cover could have been improved by placing the scene in a thought balloon over the head of, as he put it, "a deranged citizen - or a ruthless political operative?"

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/20/weekinreview/20seigel.html?ref=weekinreview

He just can't help himself!

Posted by: chris feldmann on July 20, 2008 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

The McCain people already are saying what matters is U.S. military opinion, not Iraqi opinion. Translation: "I'm with us, he's with them." Obama needs to triangulate Maliki's quasi-endorsement with good words from one or more prominent Israelis and reinforcement from U.S. military/counterterrorism types (not including Wesley Clark). Also, Obama needs to keep emphasizing Afghanistan and Pakistan - today's battleground, vs. Iraq, yesterday's.

Posted by: allbetsareoff on July 20, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the real wild card that may surprise us all regarding Iraq and Afghanistan: Bush throws McCain under the bus and in effect endorses Obama's approach.

I know that sounds absurd, but it may not be as absurd as one might think. It's hard to believe that Bush cares that much about getting McCain elected, or even helping a Republican party that has been instructed to run as far away from Bush as possible. What Bush really cares about is being vindicated about Iraq. I don't think he really cares about permanent bases in Iraq as much as he cares about being able to declare victory. Now if he adamantly insists on keeping troops there, in the face of opposition of the Iraqi government, he hands the permanent resolution of the issue over to (most likely) Obama. If Obama then comes to an amicable agreement with Maliki, American troops withdraw, and Iraq remains stable, then Obama is likely to get the credit.

Instead, I could see Bush *beginning* the process of serious withdrawals, with the agreement of Maliki, then handing over an ongoing process to Obama. Obama would then only be in the position of executing a Bush-directed victory plan. Bush would be seen as the one bringing the war to a "successful" conclusion (if you forget all the horrid stuff that happened in between).

That, of course, would destroy McCain. Would Bush care? Probably no more than the Republican Congress cared, which decided to compromise with Clinton on welfare reform, unemployment compensation and other issues in 1996, thereby cutting Bob Dole off at the knees.

Likely to happen? I don't know. But I wouldn't be hugely surprised if it did,

Posted by: santamonicamr on July 20, 2008 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Maliki, for whatever reason ... wants American troops out, and he wants them out sooner rather than later. There's really no way to spin that away.

In a just world, yes, but the Repukes will be forced to try, and the so-called "liberal media" will do its best to abet them.

Posted by: Gregory on July 20, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see how it hurts Obama. The trip brings him considerable political capital, plus videos I saw of him with the troops--smiling, visibly happy soldiers shaking his hand... genuine- seeming moments, plus a basketball shot he made.
What a screw up--Bush's white house emailing by mistake the news favoring Obama.... No amount of spin can change the orginal positive impression of Maliki favoring Obama's position, especially with the now-worthless rap McSame has saying Obama lacks credibility in foreign affairs.
That's yesterdays news, so to speak--people are too cynical to think CNN-type outlets wouldn't be spinning it once the old Cheney/Bush imperialists were pissed about how it all came down. Staggering, really.

Posted by: consider wisely always on July 20, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Most people responds to visuals rather than statements. The name "Malaki" might as well be some skin disease they heard about from a coworker. Bottom line: Maliki's statement in itself won't shift the underlying campaign dynamic although the media will be forced into some confusing explanations. That McCain isn't automatically ceded the upper hand erodes the dominant narrative.

What works are the visuals. Obama in Afghansitan. Obama playing basketball. Obama smiling. Troops smiling!

After a week of Obama on tour, look for a three to four point poll bounce. McCain's campaign will become increasingly shrill. Obama will start looking inevitable. And people will get used to the idea of him as president. It may well be a landslide.

Posted by: walt on July 20, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Maliki has just learned a lesson about the US media and their obsession with Obama. He has to be careful about what he says, thinking it is for internal, Iraq, political purposes. Obama and his sycophants will take Maliki's slip and use it to cut his legs off. Depending on how this turns out, it may be fatal for Maliki. He's learning the hard way that Obama and the Democrats don't care what happens to Iraq.

Posted by: Mike K on July 20, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Don't know why you worry about what will "bubble up" from the press corp. Fact is, obama has proven himself to be a capable liar all by himself.

*He sold us out on FISA

*Has gone from "Iraq war was wrong and a mistake" to "lets continue the war crimes and crimes against humanity for at least another year

*Advocates endless wars for Israel in the Middle East

*Does not support meaningful healthcare reform, just want to give handouts to large healthcare providers and insurance companies

*Has already indicated he will start the Social Security bamboozle tour again by promoting the lie that it is in "crisis"

*Instead of providing any meaningful leadership or answers to high concentrations of poverty and dysfunctional schools in urban communities with large populations of African Americans, he place the "personal responsibility" card, blaming victems of structural poverty

The press doesn't have to lie about obama, he is capable of doing all the double-talk and lying himself.

Posted by: on July 20, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Der Spiegel Stands by its reporting of the interview:

http://digg.com/2008_us_elections/SPIEGEL_Full_Al_Maliki_Interview_Transcript_and_MORE

Posted by: SarahJane on July 20, 2008 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K wants the occupation to last forever, how else can one explain his idiotic spin that this is Maliki learning a lesson about Obama. When a nation's leader says "we want the Americans out sooner rather than later" there is simply no way to spin that as "We want to see McCain and his 100 year plan for Iraqi subjugation."

No one who supported the brutal assault on the Iraqi people has any right to criticize anyone on their concern for Iraq. How many murders did it take for us to get this far Mike K? How many wounded? How many displaced? What's the current violent death rate under George W. Bush? Compare and contrast that with Saddam Hussein circa 2002.

George W. Bush and the Republicans care about Iraq as a domestic political weapon and idiots like Mike K are pissing their pants seeing that taken away.

Posted by: the on July 20, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently Lawrence J. Korb doesn't know what he is talking about when it comes to signed oil contracts.

FOXNews:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Five of the oil fields up for longer-term development — Rumaila, Zubair, West Qurna 1, Maysan and Kirkuk — are also included in the no-bid contracts under negotiation, a senior oil official said Thursday. For this reason, the Iraqi government decided to limit those short-term deals to one year instead of two, he said.

"We want to avoid any overlap in this process," the official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media about this issue.

He said the government will soon ask the majors to submit one-year proposals.

Al-Shahristani was expected to announce the completed contracts at the end of last month. But he said the government was still negotiating the deals because the firms wanted to participate in oil field production rather than simply provide consultancy services for cash.

The whole surge issue was to create stablity and buy time to get the oil contracts signed but the surge officially ended and Iraq still hasn't signed the contracts.

Iraqi officials have stressed that the contracts are only for technical advice and equipment and the companies will receive money in return, not a share of oil production. (ouch) They say the deals are meant as a stopgap measure to boost oil production until the government completes a bidding process next June on the development of six major oil fields and two natural gas fields.

Next JUNE, that is June 2009 that Iraq is talking about here, when Bush is no longer in office. We have spend trillions in Iraq and have come away with nothing. We have a military base in Turkey that can look after Hunt Oil - and that is the only base we really need.

Poor Nancy Pelosi, she said same ole, same ole, but is it same ole? Bush seems to have conceded that Iraq is a major waste of time and he might get out of this war before Obama even gets to his Denver convention. But of couse that would leave McCain with nothing to talk about. We won't need a POW guy with no understanding of economics trying desperately to make Afghanistan a big threat issue.

Posted by: Me_again on July 20, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of translation, there must be good, disinterested Arabic translators who would tell us the best slant on Maliki's statements. (I looked at Juan Cole's blog, but didn't see direct translation points made there.) Any scoop/ anyone here know the language well enough?

Posted by: Neil B. ♪ ♪ ♪ on July 20, 2008 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Sadly for Obama, it's July.

The news media have a vested interest in the campaign being a major generator of stories for months to come. Any storyline that suggests there the race is over would be against that self-interest, even if it is factually true. So, instead of "Obama was right all along" the spin will be "there's no difference between Obama and McCain" because it allows them to continue to portray McCain as a viable competitor in an ongoing race, instead of a cranky old man who's best ideas are the ones he takes from Obama.

Even those reporters who aren't on the McCain donuts & BBQ dole will need to keep ignoring stories that sink McCain until at least the fall. There are column-inches and airtime to fill, and right now it's all scheduled for campaign stories. Baring space alien invasion, nothing will keep them from reporting a contest this year, not even the facts.

Posted by: biggerbox on July 20, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

The media in the US is more hawkish (towards Arabs) than the US population, and more hawkish than even US politicians.

61% of Democratic US House members, and 42% of Democratic Senators voted AGAINST the war with Iraq. About 35-45% of the US population opposed the Iraq war, but NONE of the US major newspapers (NYT, Washington Post, LA Times) took even a skeptical tone regarding the war, and some made official editorial endorsements of attacking Iraq.

The US media is not trustworthy regarding foreign policy in the Middle East. They will adopt the narrative that makes attacking Arabs or Iran more likely.

Posted by: flubber on July 20, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

I'm starting to wonder if Obama is a Rove plant.

Like you?

Posted by: Brad on July 20, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Any misconception that Barack Obama is running in the 2008 election as an “antiwar” candidate should have been cleared up Tuesday in what was billed by the Democratic presidential campaign as a “major speech” on national security and the US war in Iraq.

Fusion center

The reality is that the resistance to the US-led occupation has grown dramatically as a direct product of the escalating slaughter of civilians, as seen in the July 6 US air strike that killed 47 members of a wedding party, the vast majority of them women and children.

Speaking before a backdrop of massed American flags at the Reagan Building in Washington, Obama made it clear that he opposes the present US policy in Iraq not on the basis of any principled opposition to neo-colonialism or aggressive war, but rather on the grounds that the Iraq war is a mistaken deployment of power that fails to advance the global strategic interests of American imperialism.

What emerges from the speech by the junior senator from Illinois is that the November election will not provide the American people with the opportunity to vote for or against war, but merely to choose which of the two colonial-style wars that US forces are presently fighting should be escalated.

Posted by: on July 20, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

The main reason I cannot buy into the republican rants about the "surge" is that this was not a surge. We have 14,000 troops MORE in Iraq than when the "surge" began. If they had called it what it really is, an escalation of the war, then I could at least give them credit for credibility. They have no credibility if they use words which have no meaning when held up to the facts on the ground. Those 14,000 troops could have been used to bolster our real war in Afghanistan where we need to put the Taliban and bin Laden permanently in the ground.

Posted by: Tommy on July 20, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

You see, there are those out there who are not Obama kool-aid drinkers and pay attention to what he says, not the way he says it. Let's be clear and honest here. Obama opposed the surge from the very beginning saying that rather than calm the violence in Iraq, it would exacerbate it. Based upon conditions which existed at the time,and if we did what he postulated, we would have withdrawn the troops which would have been a disaster. Bush(with MaCain's support), in the face of incredible opposition, did something remarkedly courageous; he sent MORE troops to Iraq which we now know worked. You people on the left need to be honest and acknowledge this. Obama"s alleged good judgement, on one of the most significant issues of the war, failed.Please don't try to sell this BS to people who really know what is going on. Obama, the community organizer, is completely unfit to be president of the United States. But for his clueless followers(who I understand have started referring to him as "our dear leader") and enablers in the MSM, there in no way this joker should ever been taken seriously as a canidate but "what a long strange trip it has been"

Posted by: Thinker on July 20, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

As Joe Klein says, McCain's original support of the surge, which is his main talking point on Iraq policy, "is a small, tactical truth too complicated to be understood by most Americans.

It's all about the oil, and it isn't too complicated, it's just that MOST would understand it all too well. So Joe's lying again, nothing new there.

Gosh, with all of Obama's talk on his Face the Nation reel there, about maintaining troops in Afghanistan while moving troops from Iraq. It's this how they keep troops in Iraq but pretend it's really Afghanistan that is issue?

It sort of seems like something fishy is going on with this move to Afghanistan talk. The corporate owned media is so control that we wouldn't know if we had presents in Iraq 16 months from now or not. Lying to voters seem to be a mutually understood agreement between Republican and Democratic congress members and I fed up with it. This is how they never get Osama, because if they did, mission over.

Posted by: Me_again on July 20, 2008 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Referencing "the real war is in Afghanistan" etc., did anyone see this coffee-smell article:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/us_world/2008/07/19/2008-07-19_afghanistan_experts_say_john_mccain_and_.html
Those experts say both candidates (hah - still technically "presumptive") are mistaken about Afghanistan, and the real problem is in Pakistan - but Obama is more hip to that.

Posted by: Neil B. ♪ ♪ ♪ on July 20, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

How many murders did it take for us to get this far Mike K? How many wounded? How many displaced? What's the current violent death rate under George W. Bush? Compare and contrast that with Saddam Hussein circa 2002.

It took about 3000 on 9/11 for it to get to this. Had we not been attacked, Saddam would still be in power, probably with nuclear weapons.

Iraq is settling down and was on track to be the only free country in the middle east outside Israel. Maliki may have blown his chance by giving the Democrats the cover they need to dump Iraq.

If you want to know where the real threat is, you might read this. Afghanistan is hopeless if Pakstan goes and that is an even chance now. With Bambi Obama as president, I give it a 5% chance.

Posted by: Mike K on July 20, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately since Drudge seems to be sitting this election out, most in the dumbass media are taking their cues from MarkHalperin and The Page. Halperin is completely in the tank for McCain and is playing the story as a straight mistaken quote by Maliki. There is no one stronger than Halperin right now in determining the direction of the story. Obama can not push it because it will only embarass Maliki and force him into a corner.

Posted by: teresa on July 20, 2008 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K, what a fucking baboon you are. No, that's not fair. Even a baboon isn't so moronic as to claim Saddam Hussein was within five years of having nuclear weapons capable of being delivered to the United States.

Do you hear that laughter Mike K? Even the right-wing nuthouses are laughing at you. Those calls of "stooge," "nitwit," "clueless?" Those are directed at you for continuing to propagate the most laughable of conspiracy theories. Even Bush admits there were no WMDs. The reason even the right-wing idiots laugh at you is that your talking points are nearly five years out of date. The one you want is "humanitarian goals." Sure, those are baseless lies too, but they have at least the sound of plausibility.

9/11 was the work of zero Iraqis. It had, and required, zero operational support from Iraqis.

Of course, in the real world stepping down our efforts against terrorist threats aided and abetted the 9/11 hijackers. Hm...which President did that?

Posted by: the on July 20, 2008 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Note that only at 5:30 pm on Sunday -- after Chait at TNR's Plank--called him out did Halperin update the Page to indicate that Maliki changed his statement after a call from the US embassy.

Jonathan Martin at Politico says Reuters is reporting that this is a deliberate strategy by Maliki to pressure Bush into signing a deal with timelines and that Maliki is playing Bush v Obama.

Posted by: teresa on July 20, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

New media narrative: Obama equals a third Bush term!!

Posted by: Speed on July 20, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on July 20, 2008 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

As Joe Klein says, McCain's original support of the surge, which is his main talking point on Iraq policy, "is a small, tactical truth too complicated to be understood by most Americans.

He's right - only the smart, serious folk understand that talking point.

and the folks who saw the Emperor naked were ignorant and incompetent.

Posted by: Hans Christian Anderson on July 20, 2008 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like McCain will be profitting of the sale of Budweiser to InBev

Posted by: Jet on July 20, 2008 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by Mike K on July 20, 2008 at 5:09 PM

How many murders did it take for us to get this far Mike K? How many wounded? How many displaced? What's the current violent death rate under George W. Bush? Compare and contrast that with Saddam Hussein circa 2002.

It took about 3000 on 9/11 for it to get to this. Had we not been attacked, Saddam would still be in power, probably with nuclear weapons.

-----------------------------------

Thanks for proving beyond any possible doubt that you have no interest whatsoever in honest debate.

Posted by: tanstaafl on July 20, 2008 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K, that article you linked reinforces the one I linked to, and shows that Pakistan is indeed a major problem area *just as Obama says it is* and that Iraq was a distraction that took valuable resources away from pressuring Al Qaeda etc. in their own neighborhood. Now our military is near broken, and we will be hard pressed to get enough units bordering Waziristan etc. even if Obama's modest 16-month goal (the same as expressed by Maliki - intended for their "internal" consumption you wish, so that Americans don't find out that Iraq's own leaders want us out in the same manner as Obama but not McCain.

Less obviously sold-out and hopelessly transparent trolls, please.

Posted by: Neil B. ♪ ♪ ♪ on July 20, 2008 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K, what a fucking baboon you are. No, that's not fair. Even a baboon isn't so moronic as to claim Saddam Hussein was within five years of having nuclear weapons capable of being delivered to the United States.

Do you really think this is debate ? Does this use of obscenity and abuse make you think you are clever ?

Iraq was a distraction that took valuable resources away from pressuring Al Qaeda etc. in their own neighborhood.

No, I will not try to explain it to you again but Iraq was the center of gravity of the middle east. Afghanistan is a sideshow except that it harbored al Qeada while it planned 9/11. Clinton could have gone in there with CIA covertly and stopped it. Actually, this was a place where Gore gave him good advice, according the accounts I've read. Gore has lost his mind since 2000 but he seems to have been less risk averse than Clinton when something could have be done to prevent 9/11.

Obama, if he is elected, will lose this war. It won't be a big battle but we start to see the sort of stories that we see in the British press now about three year olds being accused of racism if they don't like spicy food. He is totally unprepared to be president but Maliki might have provided the cover needed for Democrats to shirk national responsibility. Your childish rhetoric tells me all I need to know about how well your candidate is prepared.

Posted by: Mike K on July 20, 2008 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Your childish rhetoric tells me all I need to know about how well your candidate is prepared."
Breathtaking logical fallacy in formal terms, although perhaps you mean it as a metaphor for like attracts like. However, note again your own reference about Pakistan, mine about Afghanistan, and Obama's understanding of both the greater importance of that region as well as the *necessity* to transfer force there, and Maliki also wants to start US pullout out of Iraq (maybe he even gets the point about the Af-Pak nexus.)

Posted by: Neil B. ♪ ♪ ♪ on July 20, 2008 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K., Saudi Arabia is the center of gravity in the middle east. Osama Bin Laden's stated purpose in attacking us on 9/11 was to run us out of Saudi Arabia. It worked. We left Saudi Arabia. We had to invade Iraq so the social promotion baby in chief could avoid admitting our retreat.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 20, 2008 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K.: I don't see how one blogger's childish response to you means that their candidate is prepared or ill prepared. That kind of leap in logic discredits your comments.

You have to give Obama his due: He was right before the war on the war being a stupid idea, as we had no enemy there in regard to 9/11; Obama was right on Afghanistan, as both McCain & Bush is getting behind him there; Obama was right on Iran, as Bush is now falling in line on Iran; Obama was right on the surge, it didn't achieve the intended goal, it had unintended benefits that have lead to McCain saying it's working, but that's not the same thing, and now Obama is right on Iraq troop withdrawals, again saying he wants to withdraw them but be circumspectual about it.

For some guy that's ill prepared, he sure seems right much of the time. Of course if being right made someone prepared for Presidency, Bush would still be in Texas.

Meanwhile McCain is reliant on others to handle economic policy, he's reliant on Lieberman to explain to him the differences between Iran and Iraq, Shia and Sunni, and he is reliant on his wife to send email messages on the internet. I'm wondering if he has a firm grasp on anything materially important for the job.

Meanwhile the neoliberal supply-side economic policies are causing the demand side of our economy to collapse, as they did every other time in history that they were used from the collapse of Ancient Egypt's New Kingdom, to the Roman Empire, to Pre-Islamic Mecca (Islam was a reaction to it), to Byzantine Empire, to Medieval Japan, to Hapsburg Spain, to Bourbon France, to Romanov Russia, to Coolidge/Hoover America, triggering Hitler's rise to power, WWII and the Holocaust.

At some point you would think that the Republicans would realize that their positions are unsound civics, but that would mean a remedial literacy in civics, history and geography. At some point they will be the only ones who know that their policies don't work.

Things are not looking to strong for you guys in this regard. Last week the Nevada Republican party canceled it's convention. It is possible that by the time the first week of September rolls around, McCain will be giving his acceptance speech to an empty room.

Posted by: Bub on July 20, 2008 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K., Saudi Arabia is the center of gravity in the middle east. Osama Bin Laden's stated purpose in attacking us on 9/11 was to run us out of Saudi Arabia. It worked.

I have to partially agree with you here. Have you read Bob Zubrin's book ? If not, you should.

Mike K.: I don't see how one blogger's childish response to you means that their candidate is prepared or ill prepared. That kind of leap in logic discredits your comments.

That's a fair point but I just don't see any serious response here anymore. That's a shame. Yours is an exception.

You have to give Obama his due: He was right before the war on the war being a stupid idea, as we had no enemy there in regard to 9/11

True in part but the reasons for why Iraq had to be dealt with I have posted here beforehand but most of my comments were deleted.

Obama was right on Afghanistan, as both McCain & Bush is getting behind him there;

No. Obama has no clue about strategic interest. Afghanistan is defensible only as long as Pakistan cooperates and that is over. The logistics are impossible.

Obama was right on Iran, as Bush is now falling in line on Iran

Bush just proved that dealing with Iran one-on-one is a waste of time. Nick Burns is no supporter of Bush but he cannot make the Iranians even fake it until Bush is gone. They are intransigent.

Obama was right on the surge, it didn't achieve the intended goal

Not true. You have to really want us to lose to say that. 15 of 18 milestones have been met and 10 of 18 provinces have been turned over to the Iraqi Army.


it had unintended benefits that have lead to McCain saying it's working, but that's not the same thing, and now Obama is right on Iraq troop withdrawals, again saying he wants to withdraw them but be circumspectual about it.

Obama has changed his stance and now is about where Bush was a year ago. Go back and read his statements. You can't find them on his website as it has been whitewashed.

I do appreciate a serious response.

Posted by: Mike K on July 20, 2008 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

Now the "experts" say any timframe is dangerous.Meaning: "we have not met our profit projections.To maximize profit potential we must stay active at this level until 2020 at the earliest."
Since all the media present this version in one form or another the truth never gets in the way.
Don't ever forget there has been a 50 year headstart in media manipulation.Truth lost it's value way back.
Didn't you notice?
It's all about stealing with grand deception.
Oh, and add some "right or wrong we're right, or whatever they told me to say."

Posted by: johnsnottoodistracted on July 20, 2008 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Many possibilities. Maliki may pandering to the populace, always a mob with its thumbs down; or he may feel that he can't strike his enemies and assume dictatorship until the US is gone; or he may have poor judgement; or....

Posted by: Luther on July 21, 2008 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

Mike K, you don't deserve a serious response, you are a fucking moron. That Bush is moving towards Obama is a sign that he's trying to salvage his legacy. That you think this is movement by Obama demonstrates just what a clueless nitwit you are. Of course, anyone so incredibly stupid as to reference 9/11 in response to the nation of Iraq has already demonstrated that to the satisfaction of everyone with two brain cells to rub together.

How can anyone so stupid as to think Bush's assault on the Iraqi people - a vile act of aggression from which the Iraqis still have not recovered (how many helicopters should it take to protect an American walking in a market?) imagine that he has anything useful to say on foreign policy? Oh, that's right, kill them all and let God sort them out is more Mike K's speed.

You idiot. Thank God we are soon to be done with moronic foreign policy directed by the slow kids like Mike K.

Posted by: the on July 21, 2008 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Beyers: Saudi Arabia is the center of gravity in the middle east.

did you know..
bush and cheney visited saudi arabia 3-times this year!!
bush in jan. and may...
cheney in march..
3-visits in just 5-months...
wow..
(fyi...record oil prices after each visit)
meanhile....

saudi's fund 9-11 = they get numerous exec. branch visits..
iraq nothing to do with 9-11 = they get invaded..

Posted by: mr. irony on July 22, 2008 at 7:19 AM | PERMALINK

mike k: The logistics are impossible.

another whiner....

Posted by: phil gramm on July 22, 2008 at 7:21 AM | PERMALINK

mike k: 15 of 18 milestones have been met and 10 of 18 provinces have been turned over to the Iraqi Army.

Government Study Criticizes Bush Administration’s Measures of Progress in Iraq
NYT Published: June 24, 2008

Beyond the declines in overall violence in Iraq, several crucial measures the Bush administration uses to demonstrate economic, political and security progress are either incorrect or far more mixed than the administration has acknowledged, according to a report released Monday by the Government Accountability Office.

meanwhile...

Bush called for security in all 18 Iraqi provinces to be turned over to Iraqi forces by November of this year. Jan. 2007


mike k this is why non one treats you seriously..

you tout the failure to achieve the security goal...as an example of success...

ouch

Posted by: mr. irony on July 22, 2008 at 7:28 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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