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Morpheus: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
Ladies and gentlemen, an important announcement from the Office of the President-Elect:
At a time when we face unprecedented transition amidst two wars, I've asked Secretary Robert Gates to continue as secretary of defense. And I'm pleased that he's accepted. Two years ago, he took over the Pentagon at a difficult time. He restored accountability. He won the confidence of military commanders and the trust of our brave men and women in uniform as well as their families.That's the actual transcript of the announcement. No mention of a 16-month time frame; in its place, a familiar (if rephrased) statement that as Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down. One can almost picture Donald Rumsfeld somewhere smiling, content.
He earned the respect of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle for his pragmatism and competence. He knows that we need a sustainable national security strategy. And that includes a bipartisan consensus at home.
As I said throughout the campaign, I will be giving Secretary Gates and our military a new mission as soon as I take office -- responsibly ending the war in Iraq through a successful transition to Iraqi control.
We will ensure that we have the strategy and resources to succeed against Al Qaida and the Taliban. As Bob said not too long ago, Afghanistan is where the War on Terror began, and it is where it must end. Going forward, we will continue to make the investments necessary to strengthen our military and increase our ground forces to defeat the threats of the 21st century.
It may be pure coincidence that within weeks of (then) Senator Barack Obama's visit to Iraq last summer his web site was changed to clarify the position he had always held on Iraq. The easily misunderstood, overly vague "Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months" became the more concrete ""The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government. Military experts believe we can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month -- which would remove all of them in 16 months." Likewise, a confusing pledge to remove security contractors went away. After all, the primaries were over, and he wanted the general elction voters - and his supporters from the primaries - to have full clarity on his vision for Iraq.
And then last month, after having won that election, a demand that the U.S. Congress "must approve" the Status of Forces Agreement (text here) was changed to the more specific expression of a desire that Congress "should review" it. And virtually immediately after the election, the buzz among those in the know was that there would not be a new Secretary of Defense. The only thing still not clarified was Obama's intent to leave an unspecified large number of of troops in Iraq (training, fighting al Qaeda, and providing security) for an indefinite period of time.
So between now and December 31, 2011 (Obama's 16 months must begin no later than 2 years from next September) we will witness the responsible and phased removal of our troops, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government, resulting in a successful transition to Iraqi control.
Look closely at the lectern he stands behind and resting on top, throughout his speech you'll see a red pill. He never really draws attention to it, but it's there.
But inquiring minds want to know - sir, isn't there a blue pill, too?
QUESTION: Sir, do you still intend to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq in 16 months after inauguration? And did you discuss that -- the possibility of that -- with Secretary Gates, before selecting him?The answer is yes - there is a blue pill, and a red pill:
OBAMA: Well, keep in mind what I said during the campaign. And you were there most of the time.
I said that I would remove our combat troops from Iraq in 16 months with the understanding that it might be necessary, likely to be necessary, to maintain a residual force to provide potential training, logistical support to protect our civilians in Iraq.
The SOFA that has been now passed by the Iraqi legislature points us in the right direction. It indicates we are now on a glide path to reduce our forces in Iraq. I will be meeting be not only Secretary Gates but the joint chiefs of staff and commanders on the ground to make a determination as to how we move that pace -- how we proceed in that withdrawal process.
I believe that 16 months is the right timeframe. But as I have said consistently, I will listen to the recommendations of my commanders. And my number one priority is making sure that our troops remain safe in this transition phase and that the Iraqi people are well served by a government that is taking on increased responsibility for its own security.
It is a sovereign nation. What this signals is a transition period in which our mission will be changing. We will have to remain vigilant in making sure that any terrorist elements that remain in Iraq do not become strengthened as a consequence of our drawdown. But it's also critical that we recognize that the situation in Afghanistan has been worsening. The situation in South Asia, as a whole, and the safe havens for terrorist that have been established there represent the single most important threat against the American people.
And we're going to have to mobilize our resources and focus on attention on defeating Al Qaeda, bin Laden, and any other extremist groups that intend to target American citizens.
Thank you very much, everybody.
Here's an interesting post at Mother Jones. Interesting because in it David Corn tries mightily to get his readers to take that blue pill, and wash it down with a draught of ice cold koolaid:
There's an obvious reason for Obama to keep Gates at the Pentagon. Having a George W. Bush appointee in charge will give Obama political cover as he proceeds with his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq.And - judging from the comments - they'll have none of it.
They aren't going to touch that red pill, mind you. But they aren't going to acknowledge their dependence on the blue ones just yet either.
This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
Next: The Red Pill
I don't really 'like' Mr. Obama. He is not a man of 'real' words. Based upon his past efforts, he uses words not to express his values and beliefs but to cajole his audience into believing that he is them.
Happily however, what he increasingly appears to REALLY be is a pragmatist who mostly wants Mr Obama to be successful. And not 'successful' as defined by some idiologue, but as defined by 8 people out of 10. His Iraq stance fits that mold precisely.
I can't abide him for his prior asinine comments on the situation, but I do applaud his retention of Secretary Gates and his clear intent to leave AFTER winning.
Frankly it all pretty much works for me in this imperfect World we all share. He 'seems' to demonstrate the potential to actually get the BIG things, if not 'right', at least 'acceptable'. That's enough for me.Posted by dougf at December 4, 2008 11:05 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(1) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)