Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The inconsistency of Obama

From a devastating Niall Ferguson analysis of Barack Obama’s positions on Iraq, isolationism and Darfur, in Sunday's Telegraph:

Take a look at Obama's arguments for a speedy US withdrawal. Speaking on the Senate floor on January 30, he asserted that "redeployment remains our best leverage to pressure the Iraqi government to achieve ... political settlement between its warring factions".

The key is "to give Iraqis their country back", since "no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else's civil war". He repeated these words when he announced that he was running for the presidency last weekend.

Obama's call for rapid withdrawal from Iraq would make some sense if he was an old-fashioned isolationist. But he's not. His best-selling memoir-cum-manifesto, The Audacity of Hope, dismisses isolationism as unworkable: out of both self-interest and altruism, the United States has no alternative but to "help make the world more secure".

Indeed, he went so far as to urge the deployment of "a UN or Nato-led force". "If the United States does not change its approach to Darfur," he declared, "an already grim situation is likely to spiral out of control."

Wait a second. Here are two grim situations, each likely to spiral out of control. But in one (Sudan) Obama recommends military intervention, while in the other (Iraq) he recommends military withdrawal. Am I missing something?

Christpher Hitchens’ understated term for positions such as Obama’s is “not serious.” Unfortunately, it is the unserious world in which we now live that allows Obama’s brand of inconsistency to prosper unchallenged.

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