On Point: Obama's War Change: Hope for Iraq?

by Austin Bay
July 9, 2008

We've now seen enough of Barack Obama's campaign to get an idea of hisremarkably agile strategic plan. Obama bills himself as the candidate of "changeand hope" -- and change is a key component in his plan, if by change we meanradical political flexibility characterized by dramatic shifts in fundamentalpolicy, or quickly substituting today's iron-clad principles for last week'srusting certainties, or adroitly morphing his eternal verity of Old TestamentMay into a revised piety befitting New Age July.

Obama's change isn't simply the expedient replacement of once-upon-a-timeprinciple, exemplified by his rejection of public election financing. When thewinds shift, Obama's strategic plan changes people. Since the end of March,Obama's "campaign of change" has used his grandmother and booted the Rev.Jeremiah Wright. Convicted Chicago grifter and Obama buddy Tony Rezko? He's sochanged he's vanished.

Fair bet Obama holds firm with one personality, however: bomb-wieldingterrorist, connected elite and hard-left political radical Bill Ayers. Call it asuspicion, based on years of watching wealthy white radicals in California andTexas move from dashikis to Under Armour, but I don't think a money-ed up Maoistlike Ayers is a candidate for Obama's "people change."

Spoiled rich kids with glitzy left-wing credentials get the breaks. Dad'scash or the divorce settlement pays for the house and help. It's why they sportjob titles like "artist and activist." Ayers will operate behind Obama'soratorical screen for the duration.

Obama's biggest looming change involves war, specifically Iraq. Oh, Iknow Obama has set the stage for "change" on that issue. Foreign policy adviserSamantha Power got "changed" for calling Hillary Clinton "a monster," but whatshe told BBC interview ace Steve Sackur in March about Obama's Iraq policy wasfar more interesting.

When Sackur asked: "So what the American public thinks is a commitment toget combat forces out in 16 months isn't a commitment, isn't it?" Power, from acocoon spun of Ivy League presumption that everyone in the press is in the tankfor Obama, answered: "You can't make a commitment in March 2008 about whatcircumstances will be like in January of 2009. He will, of course, not rely onsome plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. senator."

Hey, I believe her. Obama is a creature of political prestidigitation,and last week in Fargo, N.D., he began his "war flip-flop" by suggesting hemight "refine" his Iraq policy. Obama, like his pal Ayers, thinks most peopleare just too dumb to notice his shiftiness or, like MSNBC's Chris Matthews, aretoo knee-tingling awed by his rhetorical pomp to care.

Real-world trials and triumph trump Obama's Oz of words, however. Thoughantique media have reduced coverage of Iraq -- fewer bombs means fewersensational thrills -- the people of Iraq and their coalition allies are well ontheir way to a democratic win over terror. Arguably the win was obtained as ofNovember 2007, though its seeds were sown in August 2004 and the stage set whenSaddam toppled in April 2003. The dates are fodder for another column -- thepoint is Obama faces a reality that questions the theology of defeat DemocraticSen. Harry Reid enunciated in 2007.

I see a situation I call "strategic overwatch" emerging in Iraq in 2009,becoming full-fledged by 2011. "Strategic overwatch" is a limited U.S. andcoalition victory -- but a major victory for Iraqis. Iraqis already consider thedestruction of Saddam Hussein's regime to be a victory. Iraq's Operation Chargeof the Knights (March-April 2008) foreshadowed strategic overwatch: coalitionair, intelligence and logistics assets support Iraqi planned, led and mannedsecurity operations. Iraqi gross domestic product increases, neighborhoodsrevive, Baghdad's business community revs. The "Update" video ataustinbay.thearenausa.com has a full description of strategic overwatch.

A President Obama isn't foolish enough to abandon Iraqis who've earnedtheir democracy, or to hang the accusation of self-defeat on his legacy. Obamawill "change" on Iraq, then claim his leadership -- not the "Bush'smaladministration" -- assured victory.

The real rubes in this election won't be the rural Pennsylvanians Obamaslandered, the folks who cling to their guns and religion. It will be thegray-haired profs with ponytails, clinging to their cannabis and liturgy ofdefeat.

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To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


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