In a recent post, I offered a 3-paragraph summary of what the next President would do about Iraq if we were living in an ideal parallel universe. The next day, Barack Obama gave a great speech and, probably without even having had a chance to steal them from our site, basically included all of my major components.
Read the whole thing on Obama’s website if you haven’t already, but here a sampling (with my emphasis):
On the Moral Obligation to Clean Up Our Mess:
President Bush likes to warn of the dire consequences of ending the war. He warns of rising Iranian influence, but that has already taken place. He warns of growing terrorism, but that has already taken place. And he warns of huge movements of refugees and mass sectarian killing, but that has already taken place. These are not the consequences of a future withdrawal. They are the reality of Iraq's present. They are a direct consequence of waging this war. Two million Iraqis are displaced in their own country. Another two million Iraqis have fled as refugees to neighboring countries. This mass movement of people is a threat to the security of the Middle East and to our common humanity. We have a strategic interest - and a moral obligation - to act.(Obama has been criticized by some on the Left for suggesting that he would leave troops in Iraq, rather than bringing them all home and letting the Iraqis deal with their own problems (including those we helped create.) Personally, I think those critics are a bit unrealistic, and that there is something to be said for Colin Powell’s “Pottery Barn Rule.” The key is to get those remaining troops enough help from our allies to keep them safe while actually making a difference in cleaning up the mess we’ve made.)
We need to launch the most aggressive diplomatic effort in recent history to reach a new compact in the region. This effort should include all of Iraq's neighbors, and we should also bring in the United Nations Security Council. All of us have a stake in Iraq's stability. It's time to make this less about what America is trying to do for Iraq, and more about what the world can do with Iraq.(Unfortunately, although this seems like a “no brainer,” the Bush Administration has repeatedly shown that even “no brainers” can be ignored by those lacking both brains and compassion for other human beings. They have also shown that nations seeming to act without compassion are unlikely to be successful in their diplomatic efforts.)
On Punishing War Criminals:
Iraqis must know that those who engage in mass violence will be brought to justice. We should lead in forming a commission at the U.N. to monitor and hold accountable perpetrators of war crimes within Iraq. We must also put strict conditions on U.S. assistance to direct our support to those who want to hold Iraq together - not those who are tearing it apart.(While I’m glad Obama specifically mentioned war crimes in his speech, I think our eventual ability to engage in successful diplomatic efforts will require the World to know that those who engage in (or authorize) mass violence anywhere, will be brought to justice. That means Bush and Cheney, as well as Iraqi tribal leaders involved in the insurgency!)