Today is the day Obama promised we’d be out of Iraq
The potentially big viral video of the day is this one. It’s of Barack Obama promising, 16 months ago, that by today – May 21st, 2010 – we’d be out of Iraq.
Now politicians make promises and politicians break promises. I wish they’d make fewer so that they’d break fewer, but I certainly hope they don’t keep the ones they make simply because they value their word over the reality on the ground. Sure, honesty is the best policy as the saying goes, but should Obama really withdraw all American troops out of Iraq simply because he promised he would a year and a half ago? Should he do this despite any and all possible ramifications this might lead to – including increased violence and instability there?
It would obviously have been better if we’d never gone to Iraq in the first place. Indeed, a better promise for us to recall now would be George W. Bush’s during his presidential bid against Gore. At the time, Bush painted himself as the non-interventionist and Gore as the nation builder. Here’s what Bush said in the last days of the campaign:
“Let me tell you what else I’m worried about: I’m worried about an opponent who uses nation building and the military in the same sentence. See, our view of the military is for our military to be properly prepared to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place.”
So here’s a question: What’s a worse promise to break – one that fudges the dates of a military withdrawal, or one that completely alters the entire concept of the foreign policy doctrine you plan on implementing?
In fairness, Bush was speaking in pre-9/11 terms here, but I do think we would have been better served by a more sober reaction following 9/11, and one that did not include bloody revenge against Saddam Hussein. Promises or no.