I was heartened to hear Barack say after the last primary that he looks forward to a debate with Hilary on foreign policy. Now that he's agreed to two more debates, I think there will be a chance to either highlight their policy differences, or find that he shares some of her plans. So far it looks like they’re quite different on the question of exiting Iraq. Hillary has put forth a clear plan. Obama has said that we’ll leave as carefully as we went in carelessly. Let’s look at where they each stand.
Hillary has made it clear we’re getting out, starting as soon as she takes office. She’ll call the military leaders together and ask for the logistics, what we have there, where it is, how to schedule withdrawal so we can get out our equipment and people safely. She’s drawn her lines: No occupation; no permanent bases. All Americans, military, and civilians and all Iraqis who’ve put their lives on the line by helping us. She’ll end the no-bid contracts and open them to international investment such that others have a financial stake in Iraq’s success. She’ll ban private armies. She’ll leave some troops along the border, to provide a buffer to Iraq, but she won’t reinvade. She'll begin immediate talks with Europe and Iraq's neighbors, but if they still want to stay out of it, she'll exit anyway.
Obama has cosponsored a bill that would legalize private armies and he won’t rule out leaving them and American civilians in Iraq. According to his ex- foreign policy advisor Black he hasn’t yet met with military officers on the question of Iraq, he hasn’t an idea of what an orderly exit will entail, and he can’t commit to what he’ll do given that the facts on the ground may have changed by the time he takes office.
Hillary says that we know enough already, that she doesn't think the Iraqi government will do enough to stabilize things politically while we're there, and that if they somehow did, all the more reason to leave quickly. She thinks that when we leave there may be an uptick in violence, but that the violence will have an end. She thinks that while we’re seen as occupiers, either with our own military or with private armies guarding American business, that the violence directed as us will have no end.
So, my question to Barack is, if we’re still there with private armies, how will that save our treasure from being squandered in an endless war? What facts on the ground might lead you to continue the occupation?