Friday, February 01, 2008

Juan Cole: Iraq and Iran in the Democratic Debate

I listened to this portion of the Clinton - Obama debate and I must say: Cole nails it.

Both candidates impressed me with their grasp of detail and the serious thought that they have given for how to get out of Iraq without leaving behind a catastrophe that will come around to bite us on the ass.

Chuck Todd says he thought Barack won the debate on the strength of his Iraq comments, and that Hillary was at a disadvantage because she had to explain once again why she voted to authorize the war. She even put herself in a position of being called naive about Bush by Wolf Blitzer, the moderator, because she went on about how she hadn't expected Bush to misuse the authorization.

I didn't see others comment on Barack's dig at Hillary over "mission creep" toward Iran. This was a reference to her vote for the Kyl-Lieberman resolution encouraging Bush to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization (even though they are now a regular military analogous to the US National Guards, and in the past terrorism has been defined as the action of a non-state actor). Clinton painted Obama as soft on Iran, he painted her as devoted to mission creep and confrontation with Iran.

This might be another point on which he won; polling does not suggest the American public wants practical belligerent steps toward Iran.

It is worth noting that Clinton misstated the 1998 events.

The US did not bomb Iraq because Saddam "kicked out" the UN weapons inspectors. The US decided to bomb Iraq for other reasons and therefore ordered the inspectors out of the country. The myth that Saddam "kicked out" the inspectors just won't die.
Cole provides a transcript and relevant links here.

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