Thursday, June 07, 2007
Clarifying the "Obama-Zakheim" Plan
In discussing a hypothetical Obama-Zakheim plan, my point was to say that if we use their positions as a starting point, we might then be able to find some common ground for thinking about Iraq policy.
Following his participation in the TNI symposium, Zakheim, in early January 2007, outlined further his view of "operating at the borders" in Iraq. In an op-ed in the Financial Times, he noted:
"... the US must reposition its forces to foster regional stability and minimise casualties. Up to two brigades should be devoted to Kurdistan and a roughly equal number to the far west of Anbar province. ...
"By operating from Iraq's borders American forces would be well placed to prevent the establishment of terrorist training camps anywhere in Iraq, including Anbar province. In addition, it ensures that US forces have a realisable mission. They may be unable to bring stability to all of Iraq, but they can certainly bring a degree of stability to the region."
Meanwhile, in November 2006, Obama had observed:
"Drawing down our troops in Iraq will allow us to redeploy additional troops to Northern Iraq and elsewhere in the region as an over-the-horizon force. This force could help prevent the conflict in Iraq from becoming a wider war, consolidate gains in Northern Iraq, reassure allies in the Gulf, allow our troops to strike directly at al Qaeda wherever it may exist, and demonstrate to international terrorist organizations that they have not driven us from the region."
This is why I think that there is at least the genesis of a workable, bi-partisan, pragmatic approach. And alongside "Baker-Hamilton", Obama-Zakheim certainly has a nice ring, doesn't it?
I take strong exception to your mischaracterization of both Nixon and Carter.
Nixon was a great strategic thinker with deep grasp of US position in the worldd. He promised to get US out of the neo-liberal fantasy war in Vietnam and he did that; leaving America with a fig leaf to cover herself. His shortcoming was his loyalty to his associates to the point of obstructing Justice; a grave crime from the highest magistrate of the land.
As for Carter, he got the Camp David Accords. Yes, he was indecisive perhaps but he did not drag US's reputation through blood and mud.
I would have preferred something like "Obama would be worse than Bush II."