As those who’ve read Michael Crowley’s shrewd article on Barack Obama and Iraq, it’s far from clear that an Obama administration would, in fact, act expeditiously to withdraw all American troops from Iraq. It might, but then again it might not, and I actually suspect it’s something of a Schrodinger’s Cat situation where the candidate himself knows he best not think too hard about the question lest he end up alienating someone. But barring some dramatic change in the regional situation, we really ought to move expeditiously to withdraw all American troops from Iraq. How to get it done? Nick Beaudrot recommends supporting challengers who’ve embraced the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq:
It’s important to elect as may Democrats as possible who believe that they were sent to Washington to end the war, so that there’s sufficient pressure on the Democratic President that we don’t end up with some sort of semi-withdrawal where we’re still conducting some sort of significant mission in Iraq come 2010 or 2012.
Well I certainly hope that works. On the other hand, if congressional Democrats weren’t willing to force partisan enemy George W. Bush’s hand, it’s hard to imagine any kind of Democratic congress, no matter how bolstered with fresh liberal blood, forcing the hand of a President Obama who’d get more benefit of the doubt on this stuff. Realistically, whatever levers exist will probably have to act more directly on the White House. And, no, I’m not sure what the answer is.
I will say that the legitimate strategic arguments aside, there’s a perfectly good cynical argument for leaving, namely that if you run and win an electoral mandate to say “Bush screwed this up and we should leave” and then we leave and then the situation looks like a mess, that’s on Bush as per the election results. But if you stay and kinda sorta leave but really keep a lot of folks around and say “I have a better plan for Iraq” and then the situation looks like a mess, that’s on you as per your claims to have a smart plan for Iraq. Now I certainly hope the next president will consider substance as well as politics, but inevitably he (or she) will consider politics as well as substance, so anyone who thinks leaving is strategically correct had probably best be able to muster a political argument as well.