Saturday :: Nov 10, 2007

Clinton, Obama and Edwards on Training of Iraqi Forces


by eriposte

Matthew Yglesias says (emphasis mine):

It's been brought to my attention that Barack Obama's position on a training mission in Iraq is clearly [sic] than I'd thought. Here's Obama talking to Michael Gordon:

We’ve seen progress against AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq], but they are a resilient group and there’s the possibility that they might try to set up new bases. I think that we should have some strike capability. But that is a very narrow mission, that we get in the business of counter terrorism as opposed to counter insurgency and even on the training and logistics front, what I have said is, if we have not seen progress politically, then our training approach should be greatly circumscribed or eliminated.

I think that's exactly right. He goes on to say he does "not want us to be in the business of training and equipping factions or militias that are going to be turning on each other," but is willing to hold training and equipment out as a carrot for some kind of hypothetical post-reconciliation government. In short, Obama and Edwards both have the right policy on this and Clinton has the wrong one.

Now, Sen. Clinton's position could certainly be wrong but her position is very similar to Sen. Obama's at least according to her latest comments that were published in her recent essay in Foreign Affairs (emphasis mine):

As we redeploy our troops from Iraq, we must not let down our guard against terrorism. I will order specialized units to engage in targeted operations against al Qaeda in Iraq and other terrorist organizations in the region. These units will also provide security for U.S. troops and personnel in Iraq and train and equip Iraqi security services to keep order and promote stability in the country, but only to the extent that such training is actually working.

Sen. Obama wants to use American forces to help train Iraqi forces but limit or eliminate such training if no political progress is made.

Sen. Clinton wants to use American forces to help train Iraqi forces but only if such training is actually working - meaning that if the training is not working or helping with order and stability, she will not support it.

Unless I'm missing something, these positions are not that different. Based on this, I don't understand Matt's strong conclusion that somehow Sen. Clinton alone has the "wrong" policy on training.

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