Monday, February 12, 2007

Iraq Pretzel Logic and a Sensitive Question

The Washington Post this morning is all aflutter over 'Barack Obama's first misstep:'

Sen. Barack Obama, circling through Iowa on Sunday before returning here on Day 2 of his presidential launch, challenged his Democratic rivals to lay out specifics for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and declared that the thousands of lives lost so far in the war had been "wasted."

The senator from Illinois later said he regretted his choice of words, telling an interviewer that he meant the troops' sacrifices "have not been honored" by an adequate policy.

But Obama indicated in his earliest steps on the campaign trail that he considers Iraq a central distinction between himself and the rest of the Democratic field.

Obama opposed invading Iraq from the outset and has proposed a deadline of March 31, 2008, for removing troops from the country. He called Sunday for other candidates to explain their exit strategies. In particular, he said, he did not see an explicit blueprint for redeployment from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), the early Democratic front-runner.

Leaving aside for a moment the discomfort of saying that any life was 'wasted' - particularly that of someone who volunteered to risk his or her life for the protection of others - is it not fundamental to the Democratic argument on Iraq that those lives were wasted?

Obama said:

"We ended up launching a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged -- and to which we now have spent $400 billion and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted..."

"I'm proud of the fact that I was against the war from the start," he said minutes later, drawing a rousing response from the audience as he called the war a "tragic mistake..."

Obama's website notes:

Before the war in Iraq ever started, Senator Obama said that it was wrong in its conception. In 2002, then Illinois State Senator Obama said Saddam Hussein posed no imminent threat to the United States and that invasion would lead to an occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.

Now 'to waste' is a relatively simple concept. If some 3,000 people have lost their lives in a war that was wrong in its conception, never should have been authorized, and never should have been waged, is it not correct to say those lives have been wasted?

By asking the question, I mean no disrespect to any member of our military - living or dead, active or retired. But if if Obama believes these lives have been wasted - as it appears to me he does (and many other Democrats do), why can he not say so? Is it not a greater indictment of the policy of the current administration to assert that the President has wasted the lives of our men and women in the Armed Services?

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