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June 01, 2008

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peter

"till William Hague, the only Tory leader in the twentieth century not to become Prime Minister)"

As William Hague has not yet retired from the House of Commons, nor indeed politics, and is still a good two decades younger than was Winston Churchill when he first became PM, this judgment is somewhat premature.

cnrw

Judging by Mr Hague's performance as leader and now as shadow foreign secretary he's unlikely to get another chance. I mean he's only been asked to do one thing (take the euro-tory group out of their grouping) and has utterly failed to do that. In fact what is the point of William Hague?

I agree that Sen Obama gives a vague view as to his stance on Iraq, but is it not also true that you both you campaign in poetry etc (Cuomo quote) and that you, in public at least, make an offer to talk without conditions while laying down those conditions in the background?

arnoldo

Almost from the moment that William Hague lost the 2001 election he started to grow on me. He has always been articulate, but now also possesses maturity and humour. More importantly he has been resolute in his support of the Iraq intervention.

Contrast this with the Liberal Democrats and their inane populist demand for a troop withdrawal deadline. Obama, unlike Nick Clegg & co., cannot luxuriate in the certainty of never gaining power. In the event of his becoming President he will have to confront reality in Iraq. It is surely inconceivable that he will undo the progress made since the beginning of the surge.

TJ

Surely by advocating unconditional talks with America's sworn enemies, Obama has relinquished an essential bargaining chip. I don't know the first thing about international diplomacy, but a cursory awareness of human nature tells you that to invite your most belligerent enemies to the table, without precondition, would serve only to encourage belligerence in those who would seek a place at that table. Absurd, indeed.

Kellie Strøm

What I find disturbing about Obama's declared Iraq policy is that he seems to have adopted a fatalism based on the West's earlier failures in the former Yugoslavia, and his solutions for Iraq look like repeats of earlier compromises in the face of mass-murder.

So rather than respecting the democratically approved Iraqi constitution, he says "Iraq needs a new Constitutional convention that would include representatives from all levels of Iraqi society - in and out of government. The United Nations should play a central role in convening and participating in this convention, which should not adjourn until a new accord on national reconciliation is reached. To reconcile, the Iraqis must also meet key political benchmarks outside of the Constitutional process, including new local elections and revising debaathification."

While he doesn't want to be seen to be deciding in advance what their conclusion should be, he does have a preconceived idea. He continues, "Now the Iraqis may come out of this process choosing some kind of soft partition into three regions - one Sunni, one Shia, one Kurd. But it must be their choice. America should not impose the division of Iraq."

That's from here:
http://www.barackobama.com/2007/09/12/remarks_of_senator_barack_obam_23.php

He also proposes facilitating increased segregation of Iraqi society. From the Iraq Fact Sheet on his website: "Obama would supply armed escorts to civilians who voluntarily choose to move from religiously heterogeneous areas to communities where they feel they will be more secure."

http://www.barackobama.com/issues/pdf/IraqFactSheet.pdf

Elsewhere in that document the phrase "safe-havens" is used, which I find grotesque, given the history of that bright idea in Bosnia.

He's planning for failure.

David Boothroyd

It is interesting to observe that in the US Senate, Barack Obama was placed on the Foreign Relations Committee and since 2007 has been Chair of the Subcommittee on European Affairs. During most of this time he had been preoccupied with his Presidential campaign, but Joe Conason wrote an interesting article in Salon which pointed out how the Subcommittee had 'languished' under his Chairmanship - http://www.salon.com/opinion/conason/2007/12/29/obama_europe/

Despite all this I'm not too pessimistic about Sen. Obama's approach; his main problem is inexperience and that tends to fix itself. Naturally if US voters want a Presidential candidate with foreign policy experience they have John McCain who probably has more of it than any candidate for the Presidency in half a century.

Mark

Kellie Strom waxes lyrical over respecting Iraq's 'democratically approved constitition'. I suggest that she listens closely to Jon Stewart's recent interview with Douglas Feith, in which the latter lets the cat out of the bag on the true nature of Iraq's democracy- any permutation of sectarian vote banks allowed, provided that they respect that real power lies with the US occupiers.
Medvedev has also been 'democratically approved'- not that that will get him any Brownie points on this blog.

(Mr) Kellie Strøm

But suggesting that all the main players be put in a room and not let out until they come up with a new settlement more to Obama's liking, that isn't imperialist at all, oh no.

Mark

My apologies for referring to Mr Strom by the wrong personal pronoun.
But apologies for comparing Barack Obama favourably with the likes of Douglas Feith and Donald Rumsfeld are not I think in order.
Of course we are not comparing like with like- Obama's words against Feith and Rumsfeld's actions.But his words to date do not surely convict him of either error or absurdity, as Oliver suggests.Supporting a UN sponsored convention, and stating that the US should not impose a partition on Iraq, are neither absurd nor erroneous.
As for the imperialism jibe, Obama is running to be C in C of a (soon to be bankrupt?)hyper power with around 700 bases in 130 countries.The geopolitical footprint of the US is a very large one,and it is very easy for US presidential candidates to sound imperialistic as a consequence.The odds however are that any imperialism practiced by Obama will be a lot less clunking and disastrous than the version practiced by the current incumbent.

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