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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Obama Should Agree to Go to Iraq with McCain

McCain keeps asking Obama to go to Iraq with him. Even though the people responsible for security have said they would not allow them to go to Iraq together, and Obama has declined, I think it's a good idea. It would be a great opportunity for Obama to straighten out McCain on all the things he has wrong about Iraq. In the past, McCain has had Joe Lieberman around to whisper in his ear when he makes great big mistakes. But Lieberman has his own problems and his own misperceptions, and he can't always be there, and Barack is a much better choice if the goal is to gain a clearer understanding of the political, economic, social, military, and other issues that make Iraq and the greater area such a complicated and difficult problem to solve.

Let's start with an easy one. If the two of them were there today, Obama could point to troops and say see those people in uniform? There's 155,000 of them - more than the pre surge levels. I know you have trouble with technical stuff, economics, that sort of thing, but this is easy John - 155,000 is a bigger number than 130,000 so we are not back down to pre surge levels like you have claimed. And if the numbers have changed by the time they get there, it will still be worthwhile for Obama to explain why it's important for someone wanting to be the Commander in Chief to keep track of how many soldiers we have deployed.

He could point to Mosul and say, I know you said that things are quiet there, but on a day when there were three suicide bombings, it's probably best to describe it some other way.

He could, and this is important for McCain to learn because he's made this mistake more than once, set up meetings with Sunnis and Shi'as. Then, - very slowly because as, as just noted, McCain has trouble on this one - explain how they differ and why it's important to understand the difference.

And as a follow up to the previous point, once McCain does finally get this distinction, Obama could point out that understanding this will help him to avoid saying it's common knowledge that Iran is training Al Qaida when it's not true (though this is one case where, when he said this, the ear whispering Lieberman did cause him to correct his obvious lack of knowledge).

Speaking of Iran, though they wouldn't actually be in Iran, it's bound to come up, and when it does it would be a great opportunity to explain to McCain how Iran's government is structured. McCain has been confused about who leads Iran, so once again, Barack could help McCain with this. And he could, yet again, also explain why it's important to get this right.

If they are walking through a market under very heavy military guard, if there's no other way to enter the area other than with armed escorts, Barack could explain how it's probably not quite correct to say the market is safe.

And, while they are strolling through the streets of Iraq protected by hordes of military personnel who could be doing more important things than setting up TV shots for campaigns, maybe Obama can talk about other things too, educate McCain on the economy, explain that tax cuts don't increase revenue, that sort of thing. It's a bit unrelated, but not completely given how poorly the Bush administration has handled economic development issues in Iraq.

So I can see why John McCain wants Barack Obama to come along to Iraq with him, he needs somebody with him who actually understands how the politics, economics, relations with nearby countries, military presence, and so on affects Iraq, he needs to hear from someone who had Iraq policy right from day one.

Why should Barack help McCain? Aren't they political opponents? Yes, but McCain, along with the noise machine that supports whatever he says no matter how daffy or gaffey, has been confusing the public about these issues. There are considerable misperceptions as a result of McCain's confusion and lack of knowledge. When Obama does win the presidency this fall, that confusion will make it much, much harder to do what needs to be done to get things back on the right track, so whatever he can do now to help to overcome those misperceptions will help to pave a smoother road to the future.

So go ahead, agree to accompany McCain to Iraq, he really needs you there. McCain has been there several times already, and his lack of knowledge shows he really needed to take those trips, but it hasn't been enough, he still gets key things wrong. You'd think he'd have figured it all out by now, if he could, that he would have had someone explain it again and again until he gets it, but maybe you can help him, and yourself, and all of us, by going along.

    Posted by on Saturday, May 31, 2008 at 12:15 PM in Economics, Iraq and Afghanistan, Politics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (55)


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