Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Obama, Clinton and Edwards compete on War positions

In the post game interviews last night of the three top actual or likely candidates in the Democratic Primary for President, there were no clear winners in terms of their discussion of the Iraq War. As conservative commentators have said about the Democratic critics of the War, after listening to them, you have to wonder if they really would prefer to win in Iraq. And, that statement is not meant to question their patriotism or that of any of the Democrats or Republicans who oppose the President on the War. It does raise issues as to the coherence of the views of Obama, Clinton and Edwards on the War.

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Keith Oberman interviewed Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards’ and Senators Obama and Clinton last night after the President’s speech.

Edwards’ main focus was to pick on Hillary for not saying she was wrong to have voted to authorize the President to take military action in Iraq. Edwards has already given the antiwar lobby the equivalent of a “maxima mea culpa” for Edwards vote in support of the War. Hillary, on the other hand, apologizes to no one and takes no prisoners. Hillary will say, ”If I had known then what I know now,” and Hill expects that will suffice. However, Hillary does favor capping the number of troops in Iraq at current levels.

Senator Obama one-ups Hillary by favoring a phased re-deployment of troops, but he is vague as to locations to which he would re-deploy. Obama says that the President deployed too few troops to begin with and that 21,000 additional troops are too few to make a difference now. On, the other hand, Obama would not support sending in more troops now than the contemplated 21,000—defending that with the statement a military victory in Iraq can’t be achieved-- apparently no matter how many troops are deployed, thinks Obama. On that issue, Senator Clinton agrees with Senator Obama.

Obama, Clinton and Edwards say what is needed here is diplomacy—diplomacy by someone to persuade the Shia Iraq Government to work things out with the Sunni insurgents. Obama says phased withdrawals are another mechanism to pressure the Shia government to reach an accommodation with the Sunni insurgents. But, if the Sunni insurgents don’t want to deal, what do the Shia do then? Obama has no answer for that.

And, the candidates are silent as to how to take care of Al Qaeda or other foreign insurgents in Iraq. One would think that problem would require a military solution.

Notwithstanding the above inconsistencies and shortcomings, the positions of Edwards, Obama and Clinton on the Iraq War are supposed to be much preferred by the nation, say the pollsters, to that of President Bush. As W.C. Fields said, nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American people.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at