Jason Horowitz writing for The New York Observer tells the tale of how the Democratic candidates’ “Iraq point-people meet monthly at a Washington restaurant for a lunch presided over by former United Nations ambassador Richard Holbrooke.”
For John Edwards, the guy is Derek Chollet:
Mr. Chollet recently helped found the Center for a New American Security, whose first mission has been identifying how many American troops it would take to prevent what it calls “the three no’s”: stopping Al Qaeda from gaining a foothold in Iraq, keeping a civil war from spilling across Iraq’s borders, and avoiding genocide. He has been advising Mr. Edwards since 2002, after helping write the memoirs of two former Secretaries of State, James Baker and Warren Christopher, and then the speeches and Bosnia memoir of Mr. Holbrooke, who encouraged him to advise Mr. Edwards.
For Barack Obama:
Barack Obama, whose lack of foreign-policy experience puts him in danger of being this year’s John Edwards, is represented at the meetings by Senate staffer Mark Lippert, 34, whom Mr. Obama poached from the Senate appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations.
Mr. Lippert talks about Mr. Obama’s plan as a somewhat flexible (critics would say vague) set of goals: the withdrawal of an unspecified number of troops starting May 1 and of all combat troops by next March, but with the possibility of 90-day tour extensions as rewards to the Iraqi government if it starts meeting long-drawn deadlines for progress.
And for Hillary Clinton:
And then there’s Hillary Clinton’s day-to-day policy advisor on Iraq, Andrew Shapiro, 39, who is her Senate office’s senior defense and foreign-policy advisor. He worked for the hawkish Senator Joseph Lieberman in the 2000 Presidential campaign, and before that he was a lawyer with the Washington, D.C., law firm Covington & Burling.
What to conclude from that, I couldn’t quite say. Shapiro’s background — not only with Lieberman, but before that with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy — re-enforces my belief that Hillary Clinton and her circle have unsound instincts on national security.