Posts Tagged ‘conservatives for obama’

#3: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the War on Terror

November 2, 2008

The time has come to end the war in Iraq responsibly.  To end it with dignity, with compassion, and with the greatest respect for life of all involved—soldiers, civilians, everyone.

Barack Obama is ready with a plan to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end.  And, he’s ready to begin serious discussions of what new plans we need for addressing al Qaeda and Afghanistan.

As with so many other issues in this election, political observers across party lines have taken notice.  In Time magazine, Joe Klein writes about Obama’s meeting with General Petraeus as engaged, serious, and respectful.

General David Petraeus deployed overwhelming force when he briefed Barack Obama and two other Senators in Baghdad last July. He knew Obama favored a 16-month timetable for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq, and he wanted to make the strongest possible case against it. And so, after he had presented an array of maps and charts and PowerPoint slides describing the current situation on the ground in great detail, Petraeus closed with a vigorous plea for “maximum flexibility” going forward.

Obama had a choice at that moment. He could thank Petraeus for the briefing and promise to take his views “under advisement.” Or he could tell Petraeus what he really thought, a potentially contentious course of action — especially with a general not used to being confronted. Obama chose to speak his mind. “You know, if I were in your shoes, I would be making the exact same argument,” he began. “Your job is to succeed in Iraq on as favorable terms as we can get. But my job as a potential Commander in Chief is to view your counsel and interests through the prism of our overall national security.” Obama talked about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the financial costs of the occupation of Iraq, the stress it was putting on the military.

A “spirited” conversation ensued, one person who was in the room told me. “It wasn’t a perfunctory recitation of talking points. They were arguing their respective positions, in a respectful way.” The other two Senators — Chuck Hagel and Jack Reed — told Petraeus they agreed with Obama. According to both Obama and Petraeus, the meeting — which lasted twice as long as the usual congressional briefing — ended agreeably. Petraeus said he understood that Obama’s perspective was, necessarily, going to be more strategic. Obama said that the timetable obviously would have to be flexible. But the Senator from Illinois had laid down his marker: if elected President, he would be in charge. Unlike George W. Bush, who had given Petraeus complete authority over the war — an unprecedented abdication of presidential responsibility (and unlike John McCain, whose hero worship of Petraeus bordered on the unseemly) — Obama would insist on a rigorous chain of command.

At The Atlantic, Andrew Sullivan lists his Top Ten Reasons Conservatives Should Vote for Obama, and Reason #1 on his list (below) is The War Against Islamicist Terror.

10. A body blow to racial identity politics. An end to the era of Jesse Jackson in black America.

9. Less debt. Yes, Obama will raise taxes on those earning over a quarter of a million. And he will spend on healthcare, Iraq, Afghanistan and the environment. But so will McCain. He plans more spending on health, the environment and won’t touch defense of entitlements. And his refusal to touch taxes means an extra $4 trillion in debt over the massive increase presided over by Bush. And the CBO estimates that McCain’s plans will add more to the debt over four years than Obama’s. Fiscal conservatives have a clear choice.

8. A return to realism and prudence in foreign policy. Obama has consistently cited the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush as his inspiration. McCain’s knee-jerk reaction to the Georgian conflict, his commitment to stay in Iraq indefinitely, and his brinksmanship over Iran’s nuclear ambitions make him a far riskier choice for conservatives. The choice between Obama and McCain is like the choice between George H.W. Bush’s first term and George W.’s.

7. An ability to understand the difference between listening to generals and delegating foreign policy to them.

6. Temperament. Obama has the coolest, calmest demeanor of any president since Eisenhower. Conservatism values that kind of constancy, especially compared with the hot-headed, irrational impulsiveness of McCain.

5. Faith. Obama’s fusion of Christianity and reason, his non-fundamentalist faith, is a critical bridge between the new atheism and the new Christianism.

4. A truce in the culture war. Obama takes us past the debilitating boomer warfare that has raged since the 1960s. Nothing has distorted our politics so gravely; nothing has made a rational politics more elusive.

3. Two words: President Palin.

2. Conservative reform. Until conservatism can get a distance from the big-spending, privacy-busting, debt-ridden, crony-laden, fundamentalist, intolerant, incompetent and arrogant faux conservatism of the Bush-Cheney years, it will never regain a coherent message to actually govern this country again. The survival of conservatism requires a temporary eclipse of today’s Republicanism. Losing would be the best thing to happen to conservatism since 1964. Back then, conservatives lost in a landslide for the right reasons. Now, Republicans are losing in a landslide for the wrong reasons.

1. The War Against Islamist terror. The strategy deployed by Bush and Cheney has failed. It has failed to destroy al Qaeda, except in a country, Iraq, where their presence was minimal before the US invasion. It has failed to bring any of the terrorists to justice, instead creating the excrescence of Gitmo, torture, secret sites, and the collapse of America’s reputation abroad. It has empowered Iran, allowed al Qaeda to regroup in Pakistan, made the next vast generation of Muslims loathe America, and imperiled our alliances. We need smarter leadership of the war: balancing force with diplomacy, hard power with better p.r., deploying strategy rather than mere tactics, and self-confidence rather than a bunker mentality.

Those conservatives who remain convinced, as I do, that Islamist terror remains the greatest threat to the West cannot risk a perpetuation of the failed Manichean worldview of the past eight years, and cannot risk the possibility of McCain making rash decisions in the middle of a potentially catastrophic global conflict. If you are serious about the war on terror and believe it is a war we have to win, the only serious candidate is Barack Obama.

I agree with both of them: Barack Obama is clear on what needs to be done to address terrorism.  Click here to read and listen to his speech to the Iraq Study Group on August 1, 2007.

Crucially, his vision for Iraq, Afghanistan, and al Qaeda does not portray Islam or Muslim peoples as enemies–as the McCain/Palin team and supporters do (wink, wink)–but as peoples to work with, to learn from, and to support.  Obama realizes that the war on terror needs to be a war on poverty and lack of opportunity and on the unchecked US power so representative of the Bush/Cheney years.

In his speech to the Iraq Study Group, Obama made this clear:

As President, I will make it a focus of my foreign policy to roll back the tide of hopelessness that gives rise to hate. Freedom must mean freedom from fear, not the freedom of anarchy. I will never shrug my shoulders and say — as Secretary Rumsfeld did — “Freedom is untidy.” I will focus our support on helping nations build independent judicial systems, honest police forces, and financial systems that are transparent and accountable. Freedom must also mean freedom from want, not freedom lost to an empty stomach. So I will make poverty reduction a key part of helping other nations reduce anarchy.

I will double our annual investments to meet these challenges to $50 billion by 2012. And I will support a $2 billion Global Education Fund to counter the radical madrasas — often funded by money from within Saudi Arabia — that have filled young minds with messages of hate. We must work for a world where every child, everywhere, is taught to build and not to destroy. And as we lead we will ask for more from our friends in Europe and Asia as well — more support for our diplomacy, more support for multilateral peacekeeping, and more support to rebuild societies ravaged by conflict.

I will also launch a program of public diplomacy that is a coordinated effort across my Administration, not a small group of political officials at the State Department explaining a misguided war. We will open “America Houses” in cities across the Islamic world, with Internet, libraries, English lessons, stories of America’s Muslims and the strength they add to our country, and vocational programs. Through a new ” America’s Voice Corps” we will recruit, train, and send out into the field talented young Americans who can speak with — and listen to — the people who today hear about us only from our enemies.

As President, I will lead this effort. In the first 100 days of my Administration, I will travel to a major Islamic forum and deliver an address to redefine our struggle. I will make clear that we are not at war with Islam, that we will stand with those who are willing to stand up for their future, and that we need their effort to defeat the prophets of hate and violence. I will speak directly to that child who looks up at that helicopter, and my message will be clear: “You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now.”

This is the sort of global leadership our country needs—rebuilding here at home, rebuilding around the world.  Hockey Moms say, “Barack Obama for U.S. President 2008!

–Carole, mom of two, who prefers to think of the US as either a power forward or strong defense player rather than the goon always in the penalty box, Gunbarrel, Colorado

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Reason #5: We’re with Margaret and Helen

October 31, 2008

There are so many, many reasons to vote for Barack Obama.

One  is that your vote puts you in company that truly showcases the glorious diversity that is the United States of America.  When Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff endorses Obama—as he just did–then you know we are in the midst of something really remarkable happening in this country.

Even professional athletes, a group not usually politically outspoken, is lining up for Obama.  How about Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Charles Barkley, and Michael Jordan himself?

From the people on your block, down the street, across town, two towns over, to people several states over, to people who might have never voted Democrat before, this election has already changed things in this country.  All the big-name endorsements aside, what’s been most exciting to us is the infectious combination of hope and energy so evident among regular folks in the USA–folks like yours truly, hockey moms for Obama.

(Wait. Did you not click on hockey moms for Obama?  Here, try again: this is the hockey moms’ version of Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina Sarah Palin.)

In this election, we feel exhilarated to be part of a real groundswell of change.  From young kids like the Ron Clark Academy kids rocking the vote to grandmothers Margaret and Helen rocking the blogosphere, we’re in good company.

Still not sure who to vote for?  Have we not convinced you yet?  Then absolutely check out Margaret and Helen’s post: If You Are Undecided, You’re Not Paying Attention.

Then, pay attention and vote (for Obama)!

Reason #12: Hope

October 24, 2008

We’re with them (see above!): with Obama we see hope.

We see the chance to turn around this country, to rebuild the economy, to reconnect across divides that separate us in this country, and to together reach out to the rest of the world, beginning with new strategies to bring our soldiers home and end war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We see hope, and once again, we’re thrilled to see so many conservative Republicans–including not just Colin Powell, but most recently a member of McCain’s own advisory team, President Bush’s former press secretary, and a Republican candidate for Congress in Oregon–endorse Obama.  When you have a candidate who truly brings people together across partisan and other divides like this, then you have not only change, but hope.

(I wonder who Condi Rice is voting for……..?)

Here’s to our two young friends above.  Their faces say it as loudly as their shirts do: Obama means hope for our future.

–Carole, mother of two and eternal optimist, Gunbarrel, Colorado

Reason #24: Judgment and Leadership in Complex Times

October 12, 2008

Experience has been a major theme in this campaign season. McCain touts his years in the military, years in the Senate, and years, um….alive. He maintains that Obama is green because he doesn’t stack up in any of these categories. I must admit I did have early reservations about Obama’s lack of experience. However, I have come to realize that this election isn’t about experience; it’s about judgment.

Can you imagine a resume that would prepare someone to manage global crises in the areas of finance, energy, the environment, and religious extremism, while tackling major domestic problems such as healthcare, social security, education, and an unprecedented federal deficit? Oy.

So let’s look at a few examples our presidential candidates’ judgment over the past 2 months. Barack Obama picked Joe Biden, a running mate with 35 years of experience in the Senate; a solid reputation for being able to work “across the aisle;” and perhaps most importantly, significant foreign policy experience. Not only did he choose a person who complemented his skills, experience, and perspective, he picked a credible candidate for President. McCain picked Sarah Palin. I think this blog has adequately covered the brilliance of that decision!

How about the bailout package? McCain suspended his campaign (huh?!) to return to Washington to take responsibility for securing the needed GOP votes in the House. We all know how that went. He didn’t even manage to convince GOP members from his own state to vote for the initial bailout package. By contrast, when Obama was asked why he didn’t rush back to Washington, he expressed confidence in his fellow legislators and the finance experts involved in developing the bailout package. That’s what I wanted to hear.

I believe that Barack Obama is going to surround himself with smart, experienced people. He is not going to shoot from the hip and ask, “What would a Maverick do?” He is not going to ask (like Bush and Palin), WWJD? I believe he is going to listen to expert opinions, consider diverse perspectives, and apply sound reasoning to solve difficult problems. This quality, more than years of experience, is what these complex times require.

For judgment and leadership in complex times, the choice is clear: Obama.

And if you’re still not convinced, still trying to sort things out, then read this clear statement from Wick Allison, former publisher of the National Review: “A Conservative for Obama.”

–Laurie, mother of two, who can still land a double axel every now and then, Reading, Massachusetts