On Sunday, Barack Obama met with 100 members of Cleveland’s Jewish community to shore up his “pro-Israel” creds. The NY Sun has a partial transcript of his remarks, but these were brought to my attention today at a political forum I post at and I wanted to share them with you:
I am not naÃ¯ve. There is a hard core of jihadist fundamentalists who we can’t negotiate with. We have to hunt them down and knock them out. Incapacitate them. That’s the military aspects of dealing with this phenomenon. Now somebody like a Richard Clarke would estimate that the hard core jihadists would gladly blow up this room maybe it’s 30,000 people, maybe it’s 40,000 people, maybe it’s 50,000 people. But it is a finite number. And that is where military action and intelligence has to be directed. So all the things I’ve talked about in the past – improving our intelligence capacity, improving our alliances, rolling up financial support, improving our homeland security, making sure that we have strike forces that are effective – that’s all the military, intelligence, police work that’s required.
The question then is what do we do with the 1.3 billion Muslims, who are along a spectrum of belief. Some extraordinarily moderate, some very pious but not violent. How do we reach out to them? And it is my strong belief that that is the battlefield that we have to worry about, and that is where we have been losing badly over the last 7 years. That is where Iraq has been a disaster. That is where the lack of effective public diplomacy has been a disaster. That is where our failure to challenge seriously human rights violations by countries like Saudi Arabia that are our allies has been a disaster. And so what we have to do is to speak to that broader Muslim world in a way that says we will consistently support human rights, women’s rights. We will consistently invest in the kinds of educational opportunities for children in these communities, so that madrasas are not their only source of learning. We will consistently operate in ways that lead by example, so that we have no tolerance for a Guantanamo or renditions or torture. Those all contribute to people at least being open to our values and our ideas and a recognition that we are not the enemy and that the Clash of Civilizations is not inevitable.
Sounds like BO, for all his bluster against the President’s Middle East policies, has chosen a form of the “Bush doctrine” for the Middle East himself, although it’s a little more nuanced than his “borrowing” of some of MA Gov. Deval Patrick’s more memorable applause lines.
It’s too bad that for all of Barack Obama’s talk about wanting to create “educational opportunities” for Muslims, he whines that the money we are using in Iraq for, in part, building the roads that take Muslim children to school and adults to colleges and the money we are using to, in part, build those schools and colleges that the children and adults attend there, the money we are using to, in part, train Iraqi security forces to keep their children and adults who attend these schools safe, could be “better used here in the US.” Maybe it’s in other Middle Eastern countries Muslims deserve those “educational opportunities,” hmm?
It’s too bad that for all his talk about wanting to protect human rights, in January 2007 he advocated a pull out of Iraq of all combat brigades, starting in May 2007, which he wanted complete a month from now. He also opposed the surge, a surge that by most accounts has proven to be successful. Had this surge not taken place, and all combat brigades been pulled out of Iraq as Obama advocated should take place, there is little doubt that a genocide would have broken out in Iraq by the “insurgency” forces and Al Qaeda terrorists who we are still fighting there, not to mention provided a fertile ground for Iran to step in and take control, because we would have left a not completely ready security force there to have to deal with a major problem they couldn’t handle on their own, which would have, in turn, created a human rights disaster on a massive scale.
Also, when BO starts talking about what he wants to do regarding Iraq, he really should at least put on a pretense of knowing what he’s talking about. Here’s what he asserted in last night’s debate:
RUSSERT: Senator Obama, I want you to respond to not holding oversight for your subcommittee. But also, do you reserve a right as American president to go back into Iraq once you have withdrawn with sizable troops in order to quell any kind of insurrection or civil war?
OBAMA: Now, I always reserve the right for the president — as commander in chief, I will always reserve the right to make sure that we are looking out for American interests. And if al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad.
Al Qaeda already has a base in Iraq.
Obama was responding, incredulously, to McCain’s suggestion that he’s unaware of the presence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which the Arizona Senator said earlier today was apparently “news” to Obama at last night’s debate.
“McCain thought that he could make a clever point by saying, ‘Well let me give you some news, Barack, Al Qaeda is in Iraq,’ like I wasn’t reading the papers, like didn’t know what was going on.” Obama said, leaning into his developing McCain impression.
He then described the context — a hypothetical question from Tim Russert — and said, “First of all, I do know Al Qaeda is in Iraq, and that’s why I said we should continue to strike Al Qaeda targets.”
“I have some news for John McCain,” Obama continued, “That’s there was no Al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain” began the Iraq war, he said.
Al Qaeda forces were in Iraq as early as September 2001.
There are good reasons not to trust Barack Obama when it comes to national security and foreign policy. These are just a few of them, and hopefully McCain will make sure to point them out as often as possible. No, Bush certainly has not been perfect, but at least he understands the consequences of what would happen if we lose there: The educational opportunities would be gone, there would be human rights abuses on a massive scale, and Iran would likely seize their opportunity to step in and create another brutal theocracy, and would be geographically closer to Israel – a country Iran claims should be wiped off the face of the map. These are all things Barack Obama says he opposes.
When people like BO start talking out of both sides of their mouth, eventually, their eloquent words are going to catch up with them.