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April 04, 2008



Sigh. If only it was clear that it DOES have something to do with Obama's "real" views on Iraq? If only the democratic candidates, and especially Obama, spoke the truth about the complexities of the US presence in Iraq and relations with the unmonolithic regional neighbours instead of reducing it all to this simplistic "it's only about full withdrawal" sloganeering.

Obama did it for race in his response to the Wright cacophony. Why can't - or won't he - do it on Foreign Policy? The fact that two of his advisors hold unsurprisingly commonsensical views just begs the question as to why Obama can't just be presidential and level with the voters? But I guess its too late now.


"The paper in question was clearly an academic one, reflecting his own personal views..."
which are in conflict those of the Iraqi people.

This shit is just obscene.


"The only really interesting question is who gave him a copy of a paper clearly labeled "not for attribution" delivered at a private, and not very big, workshop."

Sure. The only interesting question is who broke omerta.

The interesting question isn't that after Samantha Power confessed that Obama was only going to withdraw from Iraq in a "best-case scenario" that this is the second Obama advisor to confirm that.

How fucking sleazy can you be, Marc? You really think that protecting Obama advisors from the truth is more important than protecting the Democratic electorate from getting stabbed in the back from his unprincipled team?

What careerist slime you spout.

You assholes think this election is about the job prospects of you and your friends over the next eight years, not about the American people and the Democratic Party.


I'm pretty sure Marc Lynch already has a job.

I will hazard a guess as to what Clinton's campaign learned from the Power episode: what they did then worked. Obama was embarrassed, dealt with his embarrassment by allowing a valued aide to cut ties with his campaign, and has since sought to avoid doing anything that might prevent people from forgetting the whole matter. I'd be very surprised if we don't hear more about Colin Kahl from the Clinton campaign in the near future.

Harold Ard

There as some folks here leaving some strong comments. Which means you are kicking up a little dust!


Speaking as someone who has managed a policy team for a presidential campaign, the notion that a campaign should be held to account for work produced by a policy team leader (or member for that matter) in his/her private capacity is beyond idiotic. Where does gotcha stop? The fact that someone decided consciously to leak this paper in order to make both the author and his candidate look bad is nothing less than disgusting.

Sam Jackson

It's not like his campaign consultant is also trying to work for the chilean government

Sam Jackson

Chilean....I meant Colombian

Dan Kervick

It is entirely appropriate for voters to take a particular interest in the views of the various people who are known to be advising some candidate. I don't see how it is relevant that the adviser might have expressed those views "in his private capacity" or in an "academic setting".

It is also entirely appropriate to note that candidates have a number of advisers, whose views are often in conflict among themselves, and that the views of any given adviser cannot be assumed to match those of the candidate himself.

As for Iraq, I strongly expect that whether McCain, Obama or Clinton is elected, the US is going to have a military presence in Iraq for a very long time. The permanent US entanglement with Iraq is just too much of a done deal to be undone at this point. The bases have been built; the oil deals are being cut; the investments have been made; powerful interests and allies have been issued promises.

That doesn't mean there is no basis for preferring one candidate to another in this area. I prefer the one who is at least on record as saying the entanglement was a dumb idea to begin with, and who seems to have some degree of imagination about how to break out of inertial patterns, and move forward with concerned parties in the region.

Blue Sun

One of the most distressing aspects of Bush's administration, and a major factor in the recipe for his numerous policy disasters, was the fact that he surrounded himself with a small coterie of like-minded advisors who presented him with basically one homogeneous viewpoint. We need an administration in which multiple views are held and in which free and open debate enables intelligent and informed policy decisions.

It is a GOOD THING, not a bad one when a presidential candidate seeks out people with differing views for his/her team. The idea that Colin Kahl offers a view in his non-campaign capacity that may well be different than Obama's is hardly a weapon to be used against Obama (at least not by an honest or principled opponent). Nor is it a bad idea that Kahl's opinion (which I personally disagree with) is heard at policy sessions should Obama get into the Oval Office.

As for Powers, as I recall, she didn't claim Obama was going to "break his vow" about bringing the troops home, but merely made the intelligent point that all current policy statements are and should be subject to change if in January of next year, conditions are different.

We've had almost 8 years of somebody who blindly "stayed the course" and made it seem that re-evaluating policy in light of changing events was somehow a weakness rather than a sign of intelligence. We can't survive any more administrations like this one.

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