Thursday, February 01, 2007

Obama: All Combat Brigades out of Iraq by March 31, 2008

I was very favourably impressed by Barack Obama when he spoke at the Democratic Convention in 2004. It was a stirring speech, well written and well delivered and well timed. I thought at the time that there was a future President. But I have been skeptical of him as a presidential candidate mostly for two reasons: his lack of experience (a track record) in the Big Time, but more importantly, I was put off by his timidity or caution. He didn't take a principled stand when I thought that circumstances dictated the a leader would have done so.

I know I could be accused of being naive but I think that leaders should lead... from the front. He looked like someone who wanted to position himself, like someone who was following advice or a plan to win. I understand that that is what most successful politicians do but that's not leadership, IMHO. As any long-time reader of this blog will know, Do the Right Thing has been a bit of a mantra for me. (This ties in nicely with some of the stuff in my Molly Ivins post). Anyway, I think that's what leaders do, even if it's not what crafty politicians do.

However, I just read today that Obama has issued a press release which favourably impresses me and has made me remember something I said about a different president in a completely different context: even an inexperienced person, if he surrounds himself with a strong team and maintains strong public support, can achieve great results. So, I'll keep my eye on him. It's still early but this is a mark in his favour.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today introduced binding [my emphasis --bill] and comprehensive legislation that not only reverses the President’s dangerous and ill-conceived escalation of the Iraq war, but also sets a new course for U.S. policy that can bring a responsible end to the war and bring our troops home.

“Our troops have performed brilliantly in Iraq, but no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else’s civil war,” Obama said. “That’s why I have introduced a plan to not only stop the escalation of this war, but begin a phased redeployment that can pressure the Iraqis to finally reach a political settlement and reduce the violence.”

The Obama plan offers a responsible yet effective alternative to the President's failed policy of escalation. Realizing there can be no military solution in Iraq, it focuses instead on reaching a political solution in Iraq, protecting our interests in the region, and bringing this war to a responsible end. The legislation commences redeployment of U.S. forces no later than May 1, 2007 with the goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008, a date that is consistent with the expectation of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.

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