“Disgrace! Obama discourages troop negotiations for personal political gain”

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“Obama-Biden Reservations Confirmed”

http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=13897

STANDING BY THE STORY

The Obama campaign spent more than five hours on Monday attempting to figure out the best refutation of the explosive New York Post report that quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as saying that Barack Obama during his July visit to Baghdad demanded that Iraq not negotiate with the Bush Administration on the withdrawal of American troops. Instead, he asked that they delay such negotiations until after the presidential handover at the end of January.

The three problems, according to campaign sources: The report was true, there were at least three other people in the room with Obama and Zebari to confirm the conversation, and there was concern that there were enough aggressive reporters based in Baghdad with the sources to confirm the conversation that to deny the comments would create a bigger problem.

Instead, Obama’s national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi told reporters that Obama told the Iraqis that they should not rush through what she termed a “Strategic Framework Agreement” governing the future of U.S. forces until after President Bush left office. In other words, the Iraqis should not negotiate an American troop withdrawal.

According to a Senate staffer working for Sen. Joseph Biden, Biden himself got involved in the shaping of the statement. “The whole reason he’s on the ticket is the foreign policy insight,” explained the staffer.

“OBAMA OBJECTS”

http://www.nypost.com/seven/09172008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/obama_objects_129453.htm

My account of Obama’s message to the Iraqis was based on a series of conversations with Iraqi officials, as well as reports and analyses in the Iraqi media (including the official newspaper, Al Sabah) on the senator’s trip to Baghdad. It is also confirmed by Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

In a long interview with the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, Zebari says: “Obama asked me why, in view of the closeness of a change of administration, we were hurrying the signing of this special agreement, and why we did not wait until the coming of the new administation next year and agree on some issues and matters.”

Again, note that Zebari mentions a single set of agreements, encompassing both SFA and SOFA.

Zebari continues: “I told Obama that, as an Iraqi, I believe that even if there is a Democratic administration in the White House it had better continue the present policy instead of wasting a lot of time thinking what to do.”

In other words, Obama was trying to derail current US policy, while Zebari was urging him not to “waste time.”

Zebari then says: “I pointed out to him [Obama] that the agreement being negotiated [with the US] was not to be necessarily binding on the future administration unless it wanted to cooperate with the people of Iraq instead of [causing] crises and problems from its very start.”

According to Zebari, Obama said “some media reports that I want all [American] forces withdrawn are wrong. I want to keep American forces [in Iraq] to train [the Iraqi army] and fight terrorism.” This is precisely what US troops have been doing in Iraq for the last five years.

Zebari then says that he had the impression that US policy in Iraq wouldn’t change: “The US has permanent strategic interests in our region. A change in the administration would not change realities and priorities and would not mean a change of policy as a whole.” (Full text of the Zebari interview is available on Asharqalawsat.com)

Contrary to what Obama and his campaign have said, Iraqi officials insist that at no point in his talks in Washington and Baghdad did Obama make a distinction between SOFA and SFA when he advised them to wait for the next American administration.

The real news I see in the Obama statement is that there may be an encouraging evolution in his position on Iraq: The “rebuttal” shows that the senator no longer shares his party leadership’s belief that the United States has lost the war in Iraq.

He now talks of “the prospect of lasting success,” perhaps hoping that his own administration would inherit the kudos. And he makes no mention of his running mate Joe Biden’s pet project for carving Iraq into three separate states. He has even abandoned his earlier claim that toppling Saddam Hussein was “illegal” and admits that the US-led coalition’s presence in Iraq has a legal framework in the shape of the UN mandate.

In his statement on my Post article, Obama no longer talks of “withdrawal” but of “redeployment” and “drawdown” – which is exactly what is happening in Iraq now.

While I am encouraged by the senator’s evolution, I must also appeal to him to issue a “cease and desist” plea to the battalions of his sympathizers – who have been threatening me with death and worse in the days since my article appeared.


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