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October 16, 2007

Point of Clarification
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

Having already registered my distaste for this whole Presidential essays in Foreign Affairs exercise, I will make one point about the Clinton piece.  I agree with most of it.  But one point requires more clarification.

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.

What "other terrorist organizations" exactly?  She does refer to the PKK at the end of the paragraph, which I think might be reasonable.  But she really doesn't make this clear.  I'd be interested in knowing who else?  Does this give the residual forces a much broader mandate than what any other candidate is saying?

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It doesn't matter what she meant. Since she voted to declare the Quds force a terrorist organization, she's now boxed herself into a corner. She has to be for military strikes against Iran or she'll catch hell from the right. It's like her husband signing the Iraq Liberation Act.

BTW, Ilan, I didn't mean to be harsh on your federalism post. Your "5% chance" reminded me of Kanan Makiya's words before the war: if there's the slightest chance that we can bring democracy to Iraq then we have the obligation to invade.

Imagine telling your son as he's going to Iraq that he's risking his life for a 1 in 20 chance -- if everything goes well.

I don't think it is really important what specific groups she might have in mind - if any. The whole point is just to find some excuse for leaving substantial numbers of US troops permanently stationed in Iraq. The US government doesn't spend half a trillion dollars to knock off some country's regime, occupy that country, build a collection of military bases in that country and establish a new military toe-hold in a strategically vital region only to turn around and come home, leaving those choice forward positions and fine new bases to rot, or to fall into the hands of someone else. The top strategic brass are determined to stay in Iraq permanently, or at least for the duration of the "long war." Yet they know it is hard to sell this idea of a permanent occupation to the public. Thus the troops will have to be called "advisors" to the Iraqi government, or "specialized anti-terrorism units", or "peacekeepers" or something.

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