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The Spin Is In: “Apparent Evolution” in Obama’s Thinking on Iraq

It’s going to be fascinating watching the Obamamedia spin and spin and spin again as the President-elect continues to backtrack on his many campaign promises. But the biggest promise, the raison d’etre for Obama’s entire campaign, the evidence for his supposed “good judgment,” his supposed plan to end the war in Iraq–now that will be a toughie for even MSNBO to explain away. This week the New York Times began the propaganda retooling process with this “news analysis” of Obama’s statements at his national security news conference on Monday.

“I believe that 16 months is the right time frame, but, as I’ve said consistently, I will listen to the recommendations of my commanders,” Mr. Obama said at that news conference on Monday. “And my No. 1 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.”

An apparent evolution of Mr. Obama’s thinking can be heard in contrast to comments he made in July, when he called a news conference to lay out his Iraq policy in unambiguous terms.

“I intend to end this war,” he said then. “My first day in office I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in, and I will give them a new mission, and that is to end this war — responsibly, deliberately, but decisively.” And in a news conference that month in Amman, Jordan, Mr. Obama acknowledged that the American troop increase had bolstered Iraqi security but declared that he would not hesitate to overrule American commanders and redirect troops in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, through Robert Gates, the first holdover Secretary of Defense in history, Obama is making it clear that “tens of thousands of troops” will remain in Iraq indefinitely. And the Times reveals the probable Orwellian spin that will be put on the situation:

Pentagon planners say that it is possible that Mr. Obama’s goal could be accomplished at least in part by relabeling some units, so that those currently counted as combat troops could be “re-missioned,” their efforts redefined as training and support for the Iraqis.

Nice. But, as the Times points out, the koolaid drinkers are calming lapping it all up and the denizens of the military-industrial complex are just as happy as clams:

To date, there has been no significant criticism from the antiwar left of the Democratic Party of the prospect that Mr. Obama will keep tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for at least several years to come.

At the Pentagon and the military headquarters in Iraq, the response to the statements this week from Mr. Obama and his national security team has been akin to the senior officer corps’ letting out its collective breath; the words sounded to them like the new president would take a measured approach on the question of troop levels.

Of course those of us who were paying attention already knew that Obama’s talk about ending the war was nothing but campaign rhetoric. Remember Samantha Power’s statements on her book tour in the spring? After calling Hillary Clinton a “monster,” she made another little oopsie when talking to the BBC about Iraq:

“He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he’s crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator,” she said at one point in the interview.

Power downplayed Obama’s commitment to quick withdrawal from Iraq on Hard Talk, a program that often exceeds any of the U.S. talk shows in the rigor of its grillings. She was challenged on Obama’s Iraq plan, as it appears on his website, which says that Obama “will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months.”

“What he’s actually said, after meting with the generals and meeting with intelligence professionals, is that you – at best case scenario – will be able to withdraw one to two combat brigades each month. That’s what they’re telling him. He will revisit it when he becomes president,” Power says.

And in April, 2008, Obama himself said the following in an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now:

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Obama, quick question: 70 percent of Iraqis say they want the US to withdraw completely; why don’t you call for a total withdrawal?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, I do, except for our embassy. I call for amnesty and protecting our civilian contractors there.

AMY GOODMAN: You’ve said a residual force-


AMY GOODMAN: -which means [inaudible] thousands [inaudible].

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, no. I mean, I don’t think that you’ve read exactly what I’ve said. What I said is that we do need to have a strike force in the region. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in Iraq; it could be in Kuwait or other places. But we do have to have some presence in order to not only protect them, but also potentially to protect their territorial integrity.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you call for a ban on the private military contractors like Blackwater?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: I’ve actually-I’m the one who sponsored the bill that called for the investigation of Blackwater in [inaudible], so-

AMY GOODMAN: But would you support the Sanders one now?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Here’s the problem: we have 140,000 private contractors right there, so unless we want to replace all of or a big chunk of those with US troops, we can’t draw down the contractors faster than we can draw down our troops. So what I want to do is draw-I want them out in the same way that we make sure that we draw out our own combat troops. Alright? I mean, I-

AMY GOODMAN: Not a ban?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, I don’t want to replace those contractors with more US troops, because we don’t have them, alright?

In other words, according estimates by Voters for Peace,

Obama would:
– Leave 140,000 private U.S. military troops [ed. note: private contractors] in Iraq;
– Tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, and;
– Expand combat forces in surrounding nations to strike Iraq

Everything old is new again. I’m reminded of 1964, when Lyndon Johnson was elected in a landslide following a campaign in which John promised to end the war in Vietnam while accusing Barry Goldwater of being a warmonger who would blow up the world. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Johnson was preparing a massive escalation in Southeast Asia. The truth is, the war will only end if the “national security” apparatus and the corporations that depend on it want it to. And they want war and more war.

Hmmmm…. I wonder what the new “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” will be?

24 Responses

  1. Obama is over his head, and in panic. His reach for the band of familiars is evidence of this. Too bad that the drug of hope and fantasy overcame the electorate and deprived us of the most competent in the race, Hillary Clinton. Now she has signed up to watch his back as he flails on the international stage.

    Am I seeing the den mother and her Cub Scouts? Maybe Obama can earn a few badges during his 4 years under her helm.

  2. (sliding down to the floor)

  3. Let’s not forget B0 thinks Blackwater got a bad wrap.
    meanwhile, still on the preceding topic, Campbell Brown finds a way to turn the Favreaux photo against Hillary

  4. Great post, bostonboomer. You’re right — this is no news to us. He’s been backpedaling for months. And, as we expected, more rationalizations from his supporters and chief propagandizers — the NYT

  5. I think Campbell Brown should run along home and keep house for her neocon hubby. Sorry if that sounds sexist.

  6. Goddess, what a freaking disgrace. This ENRAGES ME!!!! How many people did I try to tell during the primary??? Obama is not antiwar. The very notion of him being anti war is laughable. Hilarious. And this coming from a Pacifist. I hate War. I loathe and despise it. And it was yet another issue that the Obama Campaign used to touch the nerve endings of this country’s deepest wounds and rip them wide open with blood spewing forth, for his own personal gain. Just like he did with race relations and gender relations. Now he is going to curl into a ball and cry and fall and take this entire country with him.
    I DON’T CARE!!!
    I DON’T CARE!!!
    I DON’T CARE!!!
    I cannot believe how STUPID Americans were for listening to this idiot and his establishment media cronies. But then, these are the same people that elected Bush twice. Now it is happening ALL OVER AGAIN!!! Bush number three!!!! All this hoopla, for NOTHING!!!
    I’m not sad anymore. Now I’m just angry.
    You know what? I am GLAD all of this happened. I am GLAD!!! I am GLAD Obie is President. You know why? Because Americans need a big fricken kick in the *ss to learn a lesson in not electing guys like him.
    I could never, EVER, forgive Barack Obama for what he’s done. EVER.

  7. Cambell Brown and her female counterparts at Corporate Obama state Media Headquarters can take their delusional news reports and wipe my *ss with them.
    What an example to young girls you are, Campell Brown.
    *gives Campell Brown a round of applause*
    Say Brown, why don’t you get some marriage counseling with your neocon husband or something???
    Clearly, you need some real love in your life. Stalking President Elect Barack Obama will get you none, dear. Nor will hanging all over him and practically r*ping him at faith forums will not change your feelings of inadequecy. *nods*
    Code Pink is, apparently, now whining that Obie is not what they thought he was.
    Oooohhhhh, ya think?
    Looks like Code Pink got Rick-Rolled, and it serves them right. Karma is a b*tch Code Pink. Same to you, NOW.
    PS: Remember Obama’s supposedly amazing “anti-war” speech in 2002? It is a sad day when I feel like I am the only person in America willing to point out that he said EXACTLY the same thing in that speech that Hillary did in her floor speech before casting her vote for AUMF in Iraq.

  8. Not sexist Bostonboomer.

  9. Great post, Bostonboomer! And Littleisis, I love your comment! I had the same experience with Obama supporters. I think not only the press, but most of his supporters want to have sex with him and I can just hear them all singing in unison “Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies… Tell me lies!” That’s all they wanted. They wanted to hear what they wanted to hear and he gave it to them on a sliver platter. The fact that it did not match up with what objective reality or his record, sparse though it is, did not matter to them.

    Well they got what they deserved, perhaps, but we and our military and the rest of the country are being dragged along with them… just as we were the previous eight years.

    I am still hoping he will be better than I fear but so far, the bag is very mixed at best. This would be bad enough when the country is bumping along OK, but we have two wars, a very dangerous world and the greatest financial disaster in my long lifetime. What do we do to try to move this in the right direction and what do we do on a personal level? I think Senator Clinton accepted the SOS position, precisely because she knows how bad it could be. But if she is being undermined from the start?

    The past 8 years, I wrote my Congress critters often, maxed out in donations to Senator Clinton’s campaign and donated to some others where I could. I voted, of course. I had discussions with many, many Obama supporters. A few switched to Senator Clinton in the primary, but most voted for Senator Obama in the GE, because he is labeled a “Democrat.”

    I wish I felt I had had more of an impact.

    I would urge all to build financial reserves, if at all possible. I am buying a little gold and might buy some silver, just in case. Seems the right thing to do when even Prof. Krugman is sounding nervous. Very nervous.


  10. Littleisis wrote:

    “And it was yet another issue that the Obama Campaign used to touch the nerve endings of this country’s deepest wounds and rip them wide open with blood spewing forth, for his own personal gain. Just like he did with race relations and gender relations. Now he is going to curl into a ball and cry and fall and take this entire country with him.”

    All I can say to that and the rest of your fantastic comment is Amen sister!!

  11. *nods*
    It felt good to let that out. Thanks guys.

  12. cnn has picked up Favreau story.
    It’s also on the home page as a headline:

  13. I read that catarina. Clinton Camp’s response:
    Hilarious. Even more so now that I think about it. I hope this guy will be made to work for Hillary now.

  14. I posted a comment on CNN, lets see if they post it.

    it says “favreau should be banished..unless the new SoS will be hiring a toilet cleaner..

  15. Catarina:
    Love it!!!

  16. Catarina,


  17. […] does or does not do while President, Oprah will remain his top cheerleader. Even as he backs away from previous positions he campaigned on, fans like Oprah are likely to overlook that and just focus on the history of […]

  18. Again backtrack sings his theme song
    “How could you believe me when I said I loved you, when you know I’ve been a liar all my life”
    By the time backtrack gets done that song will be in the top ten.



  19. I remember the accusation of that anyone who did not support the O One would be personally responsible for the continued killing and have blood on their hands. I wonder where all of those people are now?

    “Damn that spot”

  20. Linda C.,

    I think there was some acid in that koolaid they drank. Their brains are fried now. Anything Obama does is okey dokey with them.

  21. How could there be an evolution in Obama’s thinking?

    I see no evidence of any thought whatsoever. He’s repeating what a 27-year-old drunken fratboy tells him to say. As soon as the teleprompter is taken away, Obama falls flat on his face.

    I agree with little isis. We are fucked, fucked, fucked with this idiot at the helm. Joe Biden even said so, but we are supposed to worship Obama even when he morphs into George W. Bursh right before our eyes.

    No thanks. No way, no how, no Obama. See you all at the “re-education” camps, sisters and brothers.

  22. Thank you for posting Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex speech-it is still uplifting to listen to it.

    McCain as a military man would have been far more capable than Obama (a lightweight academic), of dealing with the complex.

    Eisenhower was warning the American people, Kennedy and the Dems got in and there followed 15 years of Vietnam, and trillions of wasted tax dollars.
    Yet the Dems have always managed to portray themselves as pro-woman, and anti-war.

    (talking as an ex-Dem)

  23. Every time something “new” breaks I know something really bad is going on in another direction

  24. […] Bostonboomer raised the issue of Barack Obama’s “evolving” position on the war in Iraq: […]

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