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July 21, 2008

Comments

Yes, I'm breaking my blog hiatus for this one post.

Good Lord ! ! !

Could you possibly write less substance & put up more links EVER ? ? ?

I vote most inane Obsidian Wings post ever.

I vote most inane Obsidian Wings post ever.

Thanks! I treasure every vote.

The real story is that viewpoints on Iraq are converging.

If, by "converging," you mean that McCain and Bush are at long last showing signs of abandoning their folly and accepting the postition that Obama has been consistently advocating for several years.

Nice attempt at spin, though.

Yeah, rea beat me to it.

They're converging because even our stubborn Village Idiot-in-Chief finally sees that his position isn't politically viable and because McCain is trying to stop the bleeding. So yes, they're "converging" toward Obama's position.

[UPDATE 2: Deleted lyrics.]

Any reason why?

If, by "converging," you mean that McCain and Bush are at long last showing signs of abandoning their folly and accepting the postition that Obama has been consistently advocating for several years.

Well, I don't know, isn't the "as the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down" rhetoric effectively the same as Obama's position (assuming von's accurately characterized it here)?

If, by "converging," you mean that McCain and Bush are at long last showing signs of abandoning their folly and accepting the postition that Obama has been consistently advocating for several years.

Nice attempt at spin, though.

The smaller points: I don't think it's accurate to say that Obama hasn't also changed position -- or at least emphasis. In any event, McCain and Bush have consistently used the "they stand up, we stand down" framework, so I don't think your criticism works.

The larger point: Everyone has been (and continues) to spin here. (a) The practical reality is that current troop levels cannot be maintained. (b) The pragmatic reality is that any withdrawal plan has to include flexibility to ramp things up again. Whether you choose to emphasize (a) or (b) depends on whether you're addressing Ds or Rs.

Any reason why?

Thought they were distracting .... not everyone is a Fugazi fan.

It is a sad day when Joe Klein of all people sees through the McCain BS better than a Obsidian wings entry.
http://www.time-blog.com/swampland/2008/07/the_mccain_oped.html

"I vote most inane Obsidian Wings post ever"

First of all, there have been more inane posts. :-)

Secondly, really, this sort of comment is simply abuse; it has no other content, and as such, no value; you should be able to do better. Von's post has, in fact, plenty of content to argue with; it's your comment that has none whatever, beyond "I don't like Von's post!"

If you can do better, you should. If you can't: shame.

If you wish to argue with Von, argue.

assuming von's accurately characterized it here

Read Obama's New York Times Op-Ed (which I've linked). The emphasis is on withdrawal, but the caveats are real:

-- "After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal."

-- "In carrying out this strategy [of withdrawal], we would inevitably need to make tactical adjustments. As I have often said, I would consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government to ensure that our troops were redeployed safely, and our interests protected

First of all, there have been more inane posts. :-)

Many written by me!

I appreciate the note, Gary. That's now twice in the last five days .... when will this torrid lovefest end? :-)

So, von: when Randy Scheunemann and John McCain criticize Obama's Iraq policy, is it your view that they are engaging in an ironic, postmodern form of self-criticism, that they're being dishonest, or that they haven't appreciated the similarities between their views and Obama's?

I agree with Gary (not that that is anything new).

Actually, von's post does point out some cogent points. Where is the convergence coming from (and yes it is happening)?

What is the major difference?

Obama has always used the 16 month (with conditions) timetable as of when he takes office, despite what McCain is saying now.

McCain is really not making things better for himself by saying he is the one that knows what the Iraqis want.

Actually, looking at the rhetoric, however, it is pretty clear that Bush and McCain have chenged their positions more than Obama has changed his.

I still think that saying "Ill do X unless circumstances change" makes the statement's meaning almost completely dependent on what the circumstances are and what changes would be the result.

All I see them agreeing on at this point is that, under undefined circumstances, they would be Ok with troop reductions. I assume that anyone who does not want to turn Iraq into the 51st state agrees with this, no (particularly in light of the apparent Iraqi desire for the troops to leave)?

And, while you say that Obama has changed emphasis, do you agree that McCain's position on Iraq (and Afghanistan) has moved considerably more than Obama's?

I vote most inane Obsidian Wings post ever.

If 'inane' were to mean "doesnt think like me", then this might be correct. Unfortunately for you, this is not what 'inane' means. If you're going to criticize people for not adding substance, perhaps a look in the mirror would be appropriate?

oh, and the point I made on the other thread: McCain has both called for 'cap and trade' and disavowed wanting to set a 'hard cap' on CO2. That doesn't seem to be a transition from one position to another, iirc he's articulated each of those at different times.
Given that, a single statement may not reflect the totality of his views- I think we may find more of the nebulous circumstances by examining those (eg the '100 years' statement),

when Randy Scheunemann and John McCain criticize Obama's Iraq policy, is it your view that they are engaging in an ironic, postmodern form of self-criticism, that they're being dishonest, or that they haven't appreciated the similarities between their views and Obama's?

I'm saying that it's (in part) a Kabuki show all around, Hilzoy. It doesn't bother me: Winning a campaign requires a candidate to distinguish him- or herself from opponents. It's not much of a distinction when you say, y'know, we're all pretty much saying the same thing. So Obama and McCain both argue that there are vast differences between them, while prudently including the caveats that bridge those same differences.

The Iraq war was an aberration: By and large, tactical US policy has had a lot of partisan tone but not much of a partisan edge. Even strategic changes tended to be exceedingly slow.

The Iraq war was different, but it only occurred because Bush had an unusual amount of political capital after 9-11. We're now back to the status quo.

By the way, that's one reason why I may yet vote for Obama: his policy on Iraq will be different from McCain's, surely. But only on the margins.

The problem with this post is that it says nothing you can't find elsewhere and says it rather "inartfully". Obsidian Wings has plenty of faults, but seldom posts in a way that reads like a derivation of conventional wisdom. Prissy, yes, unrealistic, yes, but seldom totally anodyne.

The real story is simpler but less evident. The real story is that viewpoints on Iraq are converging.

Obama has been fairly consistant -- withdraw the troops as soon as possible (now defined as 16 months) unless there's REALLY good reason not to.

Bush and McCain have also been consistant -- any talk of withdrawal, any timetable is "surrender".

So, yes, it is convergance. Like a watermelon thrown off the roof converges with the cement below. (See also McCain "converging" with Obama on Afghanistan, etc, etc.)

Seems to me that this is damning with faint praise if this is the best defence of McCain's "flip-flop" there is.

The problem with this post is that it says nothing you can't find elsewhere and says it rather "inartfully". Obsidian Wings has plenty of faults, but seldom posts in a way that reads like a derivation of conventional wisdom. Prissy, yes, unrealistic, yes, but seldom totally anodyne.

Inartful? Yes! "Derivation of conventional wisdom"? Yes! "Prissy"? Ummm .... OK! Sure! "Unrealistic"? Uhhhhhhh ..... not sure how it's that, but we'll go with it. Completely unrealistic and totally conventional: An unbeatable combination.

Finally, "anodyne": That's patent-pending anodyne to you. In the McCain Administration, posts like this will be the only form of pain reliever that are available to you common folk. You will soon be paying a reasonable royalty fee to read posts such as this.

Really, where is/are [this person/these people] coming from? I'm certainly worthy of criticism, but ..... Did tenth-grade AP English let out early?

Any of you von apologist/supporters click every link?

I didn't think so.

Carleton Wu: inane=no substance.

This post is the epitome of why I'm withdrawing from the blogOsphere & infernal LinkOrama. If you have something to say, say it. Write it out so I can read it. Make your point.

Posting rules probably forbid me saying what I'm thinking, Carleton Wu, but I'm really really thinking it.

"I appreciate the note, Gary. That's now twice in the last five days .... when will this torrid lovefest end? :-)"

I have this fantasy that I mostly choose to defend or question someone based on what I like to think are something vaguely resembling objective criteria, though, of course, I know I'm not objective about this.

But content-free abuse is content-free abuse, and we hates that, we does, we hates it.

Taters, we likes. And feeeesssssh.

"Given that, a single statement may not reflect the totality of his views- I think we may find more of the nebulous circumstances by examining those (eg the '100 years' statement),"

In this post here, I threw in a link to Steve Benen's excellent set of links to McCain's no less than 66 substantial flipflops or contradictions, which Hilzoy has also mentioned or linked to several times. Joe-Bob says check it out.

"The Iraq war was an aberration: By and large, tactical US policy has had a lot of partisan tone but not much of a partisan edge."

Von, it seems extremely clear to me that John McCain has consistently maintained that the Vietnam War was lost only due to lack of American will, and the hated peacenik protesters whom he felt betrayed him and his fellow prisoners in Hanoi, and that much of his foreign policy orientation since then has flowed from a determination to never see the U.S. lose because of such an alleged lack of will again.

And thus we get all his harping when talking about Iraq, including today, about "not leaving without victory and honor."

Does this thesis seem wacky to you, or what do you think of it?

"Obsidian Wings has plenty of faults, but seldom posts in a way that reads like a derivation of conventional wisdom."

I love ObWi, but this really isn't so. The majority of posts aren't CW, but at least a few are, and some posts are much less substantial than others; really, folks, try arguing with Von on substance, rather than holding him up to standards not applied to all the other bloggers, and with only vague and non-falsifiable meta-critiques, as well.

John Miller, Carleton Wu, and Jeff all assert that McCain's position has moved more than Obama's. Maybe it has, but I think that argument is subject to how you frame it. McCain has always said, "if you do the surge, we have a chance to win and draw down troops." Obama opposed the surge, but consistently stated the need/requirement to draw down troops. McCain is trying to reframe the issue in terms of the conditions for draw-down -- i.e., his focus is clearly on the surge. (It's in everything he writes.)

Whether or not he's successful will depend in part on Obama's response, but moreso on whether the surge really has produced an effective change. If violence substantially upticks in September-November, McCain is probably toast.

Does this thesis seem wacky to you, or what do you think of it?

The thesis that we would have won in Vietnam but for the "will" is wacky. Even if true, it ignores the fact that there was a lack of will for a reason (really, several). But I disagree that McCain is effectively re-fighting Vietnam.

Oh, I'm sorry jivalammalayalam, I misread you: you accusing other posters at ObWi of being prissy and unrealistic, whilst I am conventional and anodyne.

There's a slogan lurking somewhere in there.

OK, GHusseinF, fine. I admit I'm laying all my pent up frustration on MRvonLINKoRama. So what? He wrote it. He posted it. He owns it.

Read his last comment. : "McCain is trying to reframe the issue in terms of the conditions for draw-down -- i.e., his focus is clearly on the surge. (It's in everything he writes.)"

Everything he writes? Christ. Was there a link I missed where McCain wrote something?

If so, my apologies.

the problem with all of their positions is that we can still be held there by anyone who benefits from our presence. if group al-X doesn't want us to leave, all they need to do is increase the level of violence.

it's time for our leaders to grow a pair.

Everything he writes? Christ. Was there a link I missed where McCain wrote something?

Well, it's certainly in his Op-Ed piece (linked, natch), but fair enough.

"This post is the epitome of why I'm withdrawing from the blogOsphere & infernal LinkOrama."

That'll teach us.

As I have said before, Dick and Dubya's Excellent Adventure in Iraq has never been about who wins over there, but about who 'wins' over here. Winning over here means, quite simply, getting the media to sell your spin to the electorate. And blogs are part of 'the media'.

Let's do some basic logic:
1) Either massive numbers of American soldiers will remain in Iraq forever, or they will leave at some point.
2) Leaving can be done two ways: bug out, or withdraw according to a detailed plan.
3) You can't keep a major logistical effort secret from 'the enemy' -- unless you plan to sneak out some night when 'the enemy' isn't looking.
4) So, no matter when a withdrawl plan is announced, and no matter what schedule it envisions, 'the enemy' will always be able to claim that he has expelled the infidel crusaders.

The difference between Obama and McCain is emotional maturity: Obama is sure enough of American greatness that he doesn't blanche at the prospect of 'Islamo-fascist' spin; McCain, not so much.

-- TP

3) You can't keep a major logistical effort secret from 'the enemy' -- unless you plan to sneak out some night when 'the enemy' isn't looking.

stop stealing from fafnir

As usual, cleek (6:16 p.m.) cuts to the quick.

I thought, perhaps incorrectly, that McCAin was for permenent bases and a relationship between the US and Iraq kinf of like our relationship to South Korea, whereas Obama was opposed to permenent bases and opposed to keeping residual tropps there in definately as part of a sattelite/puppet government/ sphere of influence kind of relationship.

But maybe I was just assuming things.

Another point: if Obama and McCain differ only in emphasis then Maliki's statement doesn't much tothe Republicans. But it does matter to them. It matters because it means that McCain either has to decide to run Dem-lite on Iraq or he has to be honest with the public about what he hopes to achieve by keeping troops there against thhe will of the iraq government. Either way hurts him in this election.

Picking up on what wonkie was saying, whatever happened to McCain's "100 years" comment?

Have things changed that much that quickly?

Seems to me that Obama is driving the agenda and McCain is looking less and less relevant.

McCain's Op-Ed column that the New York Times refuses to run

I just want to take slight issue with this. It seems to me that the NYT didn't run the op-ed because of stylistic reasons, http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/07/21/mccain.nyt/index.html?iref=newssearch> and a re-write would be acceptable. It doesn't look like it deserves the harsh wording of 'refuses to run.'

I read the updates and thought that there was a torch and pitchfork commentariat brigade chasing von and am surprised it is only two newbies.

The notion of convergence is a good point, and it is a measure of what a deep hole the Republicans have dug themselves into that it is such an anathema to even acknowledge they might want to move towards a position that Obama espouses. Change is weakness for this crowd.

I read the updates and thought that there was a torch and pitchfork commentariat brigade chasing von and am surprised it is only two newbies.

I'm actually genuinely curious if this argument has been made before. (I'm sure it has somewhere, but I'm not familiar with it.)

It doesn't look like it deserves the harsh wording of 'refuses to run.'

It is a "refusal to run." The fact that the Times says that it will run a different piece by McCain -- if the Times find such a piece suitable -- doesn't make it any less a refusal to run this piece.

Picking up on what wonkie was saying, whatever happened to McCain's "100 years" comment?

That comment has been repeatedly misreported, as this report from the Columbia Journalism Review notes. It's not inconsistent with McCain's current statements. (This doesn't answer the question regarding whether McCain has changed position, only that this comment doesn't show it.)

I thought that the argument was implicit in the fact that people supportive of Obama are pointing out that McCain is changing his position and that position is closer to Obama's. I am assuming that convergence doesn't require both McCain and Obama to move equal distances.

With all respect, von, I bet that the NYT gets enormous numbers of submissions to its Op-Ed page. I have no doubt they have turned down many pieces you would find incredibly insightful, not all of them submitted by McCain. I have no evidence that they accepted Obama's manuscript as submitted; do you? This whole line of attack smacks of whining, to me.

But back to serious things: would you describe for us, please, under what conditions McCain (or you) would describe a PLANNED withdrawal from Iraq as something other than 'surrender', given that whenever it happens SOME jihadist will SPIN it as surrender?

-- TP

McCain has always said, "if you do the surge, we have a chance to win and draw down troops."

There's that wonderful and nebulous (wonderful because it is nebulous) word "win" again. All we have to do if define "win" in a way that meets McCain's requirements (eg. he can walk through a market-place protected by air-ships and ground patrols and it don't get blowed up until after he leaves) and we "win"! Yippie!!!!

The surge "succeeded" and only because of increased troops. al-Sadr is "on the run"; al Quida is finished (again). All is peace and harmony, so bring those boys home!

Who cares about Iraqis without power, seperated from one another by concrete barricades? Who cares about expats afraid to come home, because home is in the "wrong" part of Iraq? Who cares if a truly free and honest election is years away, at best? We "won"! Mission Accomplished! (How does McCain look in a flight-suit?)

===============

lj: I am assuming that convergence doesn't require both McCain and Obama to move equal distances.

von said "they are saying essentially the same thing", not that McCain was moving toward Obama. Thwere's no indication in the post, nor in follow-on posts, that Obama was right and that McCain is catching up.

Notice also that von does not address the fact that both Bush and McCain said that time-tables meant surrender.

Von,

You're catching a lot of flack here, most of it unfair in my opinion. So I'd like to address one of your points.

How do we define a "residual force"? A thousand troops? Ten thousand? Fifty thousand?

This is where I think we'll see the difference in the various proposals.

Frankly, you don't need 1.3 billion dollars worth of military bases for what I consider a residual force. And Bush/Cheney wisely ensured that the appropriation for those bases was folded in with the never ending "emergency appropriations" for Iraq and Afghanistan so that the issue of a permanent presence in Iraq was never truly brought before the congress or the public in any meaningful way.

To me, this is the question for the candidates.

Define your idea of a residual force, it's size, and components.

And one other thing Von.

Speculation on the Times requesting a re-write before running McCain's Op Ed is a waste of time without knowing what his original submission contained.

I submitted the following to them for an Op Ed.

Send more troops and pay off all the bad guys.

???

Victory!

And the jerks wouldn't run mine either.

;0)

Belay my last Von.

I really had no idea that the McCain campaign would provide that bastion of journalistic integrity Matt Drudge with the actual submitted Op Ed.

For a war hero, the guy is a world class whiner.

Davebo: we do know what the original submitted -- assuming you take McCain at his word on this, which I do. It's at von's link in the original post.

von: I assumed that I was the prissy one. ;)

that McCain op piece was lame. it was all about trying to tear Obama down, he had almost nothing to say about what he would do.

anyone need any more proof that McCain is running as "not Obama" ?

can i be the prissy one?

von: I like this post, although I disagree with it. I think it captures an argument that is being made all the time but rarely gets aired in print. Certainly, the center-right types I know view the two candidate's positions in more or less the way you lays out here.

Underpinning this line of thought, in my experience, is a sort of technocratic view of Iraq in which it is assumed that everyone has the same basic goals for Iraq, and presented with a limited set of policy tools with which to pursue those goals, both candidates are likely to end up in roughly the same place.

But this line of argument ignores the very real fact that there is a disagreement over ends as well as means in Iraq. For Obama, the goal in Iraq is to reach an acceptable result at the lowest possible cost to other (he would say more important) undertakings. For McCain, the goal is achieving a result that can unambiguously be labeled a triumph, regardless of the cost.

In a period where troop levels are high and violence levels are low, these two positions can seem similar, because both views dictate troop drawdowns under those circumstances. But that doesn't make the two positions the same. McCain is still fundamentally concerned with unambiguously winning in Iraq, and that will affect his course at every stage there. And Obama's goals remain merely to achieve basic stability and get the hell out, which will affect his course as well.

We have a real choice on Iraq. It may not be as dramatic as some people portray it, but it is real.

If you have something to say, say it. Write it out so I can read it. Make your point.

geez, did you read this before you wrote it? I can only think not, as you'd have died from the irony overdose. You haven't critiqued a single thing here, just offered up inane (congrats on using the dictionary), bland, pointless, and spineless whining.

If you actually have a point where you disagree with von (nb I sure do), try explaining what that would be. It's not hard; it may even be easier than serially complaining about the post's lack of content.

Posting rules probably forbid me saying what I'm thinking, Carleton Wu, but I'm really really thinking it.

Me too. Except Im thinking it about your mother.

von said "they are saying essentially the same thing", not that McCain was moving toward Obama. There's no indication in the post, nor in follow-on posts, that Obama was right and that McCain is catching up.

Good observation. I just want to note that I'm not accusing von of pointing out the obvious, though the way I phrased it might have made it sound like that, for which I apologize. My point is that if McCain and Obama are converging, they are converging on something, and that something looks an awful lot more like Obama's position than McCain's. However, many of those who support McCain seem to be of the "Whatever it is (that Obama likes), I'm against it" school. So pointing out the convergence is an important foundation point and the question becomes, as you note, who is converging who? I'd be interested to know if von would argue that Obama is moving more than McCain is and if he thinks so, what does he present as evidence.

"Except Im thinking it about your mother."

Im in ur comment, not writing about yr mother.

Perhaps convergence.

Still, one candidate has arrived at this point from the direction of the invasion was a gross policy blunder, the stated aim is to get the US troops out as quickly as feasible, but doing so must reflect that we screwed Iraq up and should not leave them in a total shambles, security-wise. And the other candidate thinks the decision to invade was the right one and the troops can start to leave because we're "winning".

Even if they agree about what should happen starting in January, a fairly stark choice for the voters.

refusal to run

It amuses the heck out of me that the same people who are horrified by the prospect of a Fairness Doctrine applied to the public airwaves feel privileged to invent one and apply it to a private newspaper. If McCain's piece doesn't meet the Times's standards for an Op/Ed they can't sensibly be criticized for not running it.

(It occurs to me that if someone points to a Bill Kristol column, and mouths "standards?" I have no good response except to applaud the Times for being willing to hire the handicapped, morally or otherwise.)

However, many of those who support McCain seem to be of the "Whatever it is (that Obama likes), I'm against it" school.

Folks I know are having a difficult time identifying exactly what Senator Obama really does like.

I hate to say this, but I think most of you are simply kidding themselves about Obama's Iraq plans. This war has always been about permanent bases designed to establish a strategic foothold in the ME that will enable the US to protect its interests there.

As far as I can see, Obama will not do anything that puts these ultimate war aims at risk, he's just better at selling them :

Question: What do you mean when you say residual force?

Obama: (...) The missions that I've called for: as you said, protecting diplomatic forces and civilians, U.S. civilians or foreign civilians in Iraq, making sure that we are protecting our bases, training Iraqi forces, if, as long as we are [sure] of the fact that we are not training them to engage in sectarian war but rather training them for the integrated force structures that are needed to protect them, and to have a counterinsurgency force that can act swiftly if you start seeing the reemergence of al Qaeda in Iraq.

This war has always been about permanent bases designed to establish a strategic foothold in the ME that will enable the US to protect its interests there.

Perhaps, but my comment wasn't related to trying to discern Obama's true policy stances (I can easy imagine a Reagan in Lebanon situation where the troops are pulled after a seriously damaging attack) but the reactionary nature of the McCain campaign. I honestly believe that if a reporter said something like 'Obama has come out in favor of motherhood and apple pie, do you have a response Sen. McCain?', McCain would be an attack both, or accuse Obama of really hating apple pie and only liking peach pie.

"I vote most inane Obsidian Wings post ever."

Yup,that about sums it up.

I think Obsidian Wings current political makeup can be best described by the late Johnny Cash:

Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear was a Methodist (or "burned his driving licence", depending which verse you think we've got to).

Novakant nails it with regard to Obama. The only country where the US withdrew a military presence is Saudi Arabia, and it took 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq to get that to happen.

The fullscale occupation will go: the permanent military bases will stay: regardless of who gets into the White House next January, though McCain may drag the occupation out longer and slower on account of not wanting to have to admit that the previous Republican president was such a complete egotist that he wouldn't end the occupation in his term of office.

Von's support for McCain demonstrates that some people will support anyone so long as they come with an (R) on the tin.

Didn't von support Kerry over Bush? It may be the heat here, but I seem to remember that. Which means you get a ranking like

1. McCain
2/3 Kerry/Obama
4. Bush
5. Gore

Again, it may be the heat here, but it's like creating a bunch of metrics for the greatest rock band ever and then finding that your algorithm just popped Flock of Seagulls.

I denounce cleek for failing to specify what the candidates ought to grow a pair of, but I'm guessing he doesn't mean ovaries.

So I denounce him as a macho, chestbeating sexist if I'm right, and I denounce myself if I'm wrong.

Hell, I denounce myself anyway, for failing to denounce the comments decrying von's post as inane for their inanity. And I denounce garyb50 for really really thinking. You could hurt yourself, you know.

"I denounce cleek for failing to specify what the candidates ought to grow a pair of, but I'm guessing he doesn't mean ovaries."

He didn't mean a pair of ponies for everyone?

How embarrassing for me.

I denounce cleek for failing to specify what the candidates ought to grow a pair of, but I'm guessing he doesn't mean ovaries.

they should grow a pair of frontal lobes, obviously.

they should grow a pair of frontal lobes, obviously

Ah. Once again, then, I must denounce myself.

Leo, you may be on to something with this:

Underpinning this line of thought, in my experience, is a sort of technocratic view of Iraq in which it is assumed that everyone has the same basic goals for Iraq, and presented with a limited set of policy tools with which to pursue those goals, both candidates are likely to end up in roughly the same place.

But this line of argument ignores the very real fact that there is a disagreement over ends as well as means in Iraq. For Obama, the goal in Iraq is to reach an acceptable result at the lowest possible cost to other (he would say more important) undertakings. For McCain, the goal is achieving a result that can unambiguously be labeled a triumph, regardless of the cost.

But this view holds only if you believe that the goals can be separated from the policy tools. My argument is that they can't: The tools are so blunt that abstract goals don't matter in most cases. There is only so much one can do with the options at hand.

Obama may have a radically different goal than McCain -- 'tho I don't think that's clear -- but the fundamental goal is to keep Iraq intact and functioning. There are not that many ways to do that other than to pursue policies that are going to end up looking a lot like McCain's.

Foriegn policy is about choosing between a range of hammers. Your choice is the big hammer or the small hammer, and whether to offer pie or pie a la mode to the hammerees. And, some times, no matter what you want, the little hammer just won't do.

That sounds blunt and stupid, I know. The nuance comes in realizing the implications.

How do we define a "residual force"? A thousand troops? Ten thousand? Fifty thousand?

Neither candidate has defined this term -- purposefully. I agree that the size of remaining bases may be affected by who's president, but either McCain or Obama is going to maintain some "permanent" presence in Iraq.

And, although I likely disagree with Novakant on a whole host of other issues, I fully agree with his July 22, 2008 post, stamped at 04:41 am.

My apologies if I haven't been able to respond to other posters.

Incidentally, in answer to my Update 4, Steve Inskeep (of ye olde NPR) made the exact same point as this post in a conversation with Juan Williams this morning during my drive in to the office. I don't know where that puts me in on the inanity scale -- a day ahead of inane? Perhaps it depends on how many Inskeep fans are in the audience.

but the fundamental goal is to keep Iraq intact and functioning.

This is McCain's fundamental goal? I thought Bush's and McCain's fundamental goals were to keep the US military occupying Iraq for as long as the US government feels like keeping it there - a goal in direct contradiction to keeping Iraq "intact and functioning".

not everyone is a Fugazi fan.

It's a fallen world we live in.

a goal in direct contradiction to keeping Iraq "intact and functioning"

it's all about how you define "functioning".

Folks I know are having a difficult time identifying exactly what Senator Obama really does like.

You need to hang out with smarter folks (ones who can read, perhaps). This blog is a good start. Unless you include yourself in such "folk". I'm not sure I can help then.

Folks I know are having a difficult time identifying exactly what Senator Obama really does like.

Yeah--if only he would post his policy positions on the internet or something . . .

http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2008/07/campaign-websit.html

Obama may have a radically different goal than McCain -- 'tho I don't think that's clear -- but the fundamental goal is to keep Iraq intact and functioning. There are not that many ways to do that other than to pursue policies that are going to end up looking a lot like McCain's.

So is the desire to vote for McCain based on the fact that Obama is doing better at masking those fundamental goals?

cleek: it's all about how you define "functioning".

Advantaging US companies that are big Republican donors?

Yeah.

Jeff from July 21, 8:05 pm:
"There's that wonderful and nebulous (wonderful because it is nebulous) word 'win' again."

McCain was all over TV before I came to work today in news clips blabbering his favorite word.

Win.

Win.

Win.

The good senator sounds like Humphrey Bogart in the "Cain Mutiny" (great movie, by the way) talking about his strawberries.

"The good senator sounds like Humphrey Bogart in the "Cain Mutiny" (great movie, by the way)"

So is The Caine Mutiny, which is a good Herman Wouk novel.

The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, also by Wouk, is also a good play. It was also a good tv play in 1955, and again in 1988.

There was also the good Bogie movie. But it's nice to remember the actual writer, too.

The book ends differently, too.

Thanks, Gary.

Bogie and the Duke are probably my two favorite actors.

"The Caine Mutiny" is a role, I think, that shows Bogart was a better actor than people give him credit for.

von, I apologize...

I've re-read this link riddled post & have decided you're even more right than you think. They're ALL converging: Bush, Obama, McCain, Petreaus, al-Maliki, Chalabi, my left foot, and the most wonderful dog in the world, Katy - all believe the Surge is a Success & Al-Qaeda has been run out of Iraq & into Afghanistan & boom boom boom - let's delicately move on out of Iraq in some fashion & hit those damn Afghan Taliban. We all agree. I agree. Boom Boom Boom, the bastards.

but the fundamental goal is to keep Iraq intact and functioning.

This is McCain's fundamental goal? I thought Bush's and McCain's fundamental goals were to keep the US military occupying Iraq for as long as the US government feels like keeping it there - a goal in direct contradiction to keeping Iraq "intact and functioning".

I don't why you think McCain is insincere here, Jes. I don't know how one thinks that the US military could continue to remain in Iraq if Iraq wasn't "intact and functioning".

Garyb50, if you keep practicing and improving your skills, you'll someday be a real troll! Won't that be a happy day?

Happy days, von? There's nothing happy happening that I see. Maybe aspiring trolls see it that way.

"I don't why you think McCain is insincere here, Jes. I don't know how one thinks that the US military could continue to remain in Iraq if Iraq wasn't "intact and functioning"."

WTF ??

Nice post von. I wish you would post more often, but then, well, I see why not. Still, no like McCain…

I vote most inane Obsidian Wings post ever

I vote most inane Obsidian Wings comment ever. Same diff…


Gary: That'll teach us.

Snort. As in, bubbles in the sinuses snort.

von still hasn't explained how moving from "timetables = surrender" to "amorphous strawberries of timetables-in-all-but-name" is less than or equal to moving from "out of Iraq as soon as possible" to "out of Iraq in 16 months, unless there's REALLY good reason not to".

von: I don't why you think McCain is insincere here, Jes.

Because his lips are moving?

I don't know how one thinks that the US military could continue to remain in Iraq if Iraq wasn't "intact and functioning".

I don't actually understand that sentence. All the words make sense, but it's like reading something from the po-mo generator.

You appear to be saying that if Iraq ceases to be "intact and functioning", the US military will have to leave. That suggests in turn that you think the state Iraq is in right now is "intact and functioning".

Maybe Jeff's right: you just meant to say "Strawberries".

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