Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Weighing Obama versus McCain

Marko Attila Hoare sums it up.

Daniel Stark closes with a quote from the Wall Street Journal.

Most of my earlier posts on the US election:

Segregation, parts one and two.

A couple of people have said that Obama will be more like Clinton than Carter. This I do not find reassuring. 

Who wants another president who will hesitate for years over a massacre like Bosnia, with more care for domestic opinion polls than for doing what is right?

Who wants another Somalia? A scramble to withdraw in the face of public unhappiness, a disaster which strengthened Al Qaeda and left that country in a disastrous state from which there is still no sign of recovery.

Who wants another Rwanda?

But Samantha Power was one of his advisers, so surely he will act against such atrocities? Sorry, no, I get no reassurance from an academic who can describe victims of ethnic cleansing as exercising a choice.

The issue of Iraq has faded from consciousness as violence falls, and while Obama has never withdrawn his ‘withdrawal in 16 months’ policy, it has been allowed to be forgotten for now, along with his vociferous opposition to the surge.

Here though is a reminder of what the consequences would have been of following Obama’s policies over the last two years, from David Kilcullen:
The question of whether we were right to invade Iraq is a fascinating debate for historians and politicians, and a valid issue for the American people to consider in an election year. As it happens, I think it was a mistake. But that is not my key concern. The issue for practitioners in the field is not to second-guess a decision from six years ago, but to get on with the job at hand which, I believe, is what both Americans and Iraqis expect of us. In that respect, the new strategy and tactics implemented in 2007, and which relied for their effectiveness on the extra troop numbers of the Surge, ARE succeeding and need to be supported. In 2006, a normal night in Baghdad involved 120 to 150 dead Iraqi civilians, and each month we lost dozens of Americans killed or maimed. This year, a bad night involves one or two dead civilians, U.S. losses are dramatically down, and security is restored. Therefore, even on the most conservative estimate, in the eighteen months of the surge to date we have saved 12 to 16 thousand Iraqis and hundreds of American lives.
Who would have preferred Obama’s path?

Of course you can always hope, like Hitchens, that Obama is learning. But my hopes for Obama are more than equalled by my fears.


Anonymous said...

You can add this to the list, Clinton's (lack of) response to the bombing of the USS Cole.

Acknowledging Clinton's faults, I still prefer him to Carter. I was young when Carter was president but I remember waiting in long lines just to get a few gallons of gas, the hostage crisis, stagflation, etc.

Roland Dodds said...

Very good points Kellie; gave me an opportunity to read some of your pieces I have missed. Some very convincing arguments.

In the grand scheme of things, while Clinton failed in a number of ways (and I don’t count myself among the Clinton faithful), he was surely a better and more effective President than Carter. His administration was far to slow to act in the Balkans, but they thankfully did turn to the right position eventually. This was also during a time when many Republicans were hounding him over this “unnecessary” humanitarian adventure, the same way Democrats have railed against Iraq on the grounds that it was built on a “lie.” For that alone, I have some respect for Clinton.