About That Obama Endorsement…
New York City
I was not surprised by your endorsement of Barack Obama [“Obama’s Promise,” Feb. 25]. But I was astonished that you made no mention of an editorial you ran almost exactly twelve months earlier vowing “not [to] support any candidate who does not call for a speedy withdrawal of our troops” from Iraq [“Into 2008,” Feb. 26, 2007]. “Speedy withdrawal” is not Obama’s position, by a long shot. Not only has he promised to maintain a military presence in order to protect the new US Embassy in Baghdad, the largest embassy in the world; he also says he’ll keep troops in or around Iraq in case “Al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq.” Considering that Al Qaeda already has a base in Iraq, this is a loophole big enough to admit a B-52. Promises of any kind of withdrawal, speedy or sluggish, are thus meaningless.
Obama also says he’ll send two additional brigades to Afghanistan, increase the number of US combat troops overall by 100,000 and strike at “terrorist” targets inside Pakistan with or without the Pakistani government’s say-so. Not even the Bush Administration goes that far.
The next time you run a tough-talking editorial like the one in February 2007, perhaps you ought to attach a disclaimer saying, “Not to be taken seriously.”
The Editors Reply
In November 2005 we stated in our cover editorial: “The Nation will not support any candidate for national office who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq a major issue of his or her campaign.” We urged all voters to join us in adopting this position. In February 2007, we harked back to that editorial when we wrote, “This magazine has already staked out its position on one of the day’s great challenges: ending the military occupation of Iraq. We will not support any candidate who does not call for a speedy withdrawal of our troops.”
In accord with our November 2005 statement, Barack Obama has made a speedy end to the war in Iraq a centerpiece of his campaign. His opposition to that war from its start has been the core of both his distinction from Hillary Clinton and his legitimate claim for having the judgment needed to be President.
This does not mean that The Nation endorses every one of his Iraq-related policies. Obama’s plan to end the war–like that of the largest bloc of antiwar Democrats in Congress–falls short in some important respects. The size of the embassy he plans to maintain, his ambiguous stance on private contractors and his plans for a sizable “follow-on force” are all reasons for concern (see Jeremy Scahill’s “Obama’s Mercenary Position,” March 17). In the remainder of this presidential campaign, and no matter who wins the nomination, the very definition of withdrawal will be repeatedly contested–and we will continue to publish articles and editorials that strive to sharpen and clarify the terms of that debate. Moreover, we will continue to oppose the commitment of both Clinton and Obama to increasing the size of the military and to spending more on our military than the rest of the world combined. We believe that progressives must mobilize to challenge these policies.