WASHINGTON -- Is it audacious to hope for more clarity from Barack Obama than he has so far supplied? Herewith 17 questions for him:
You advocate leaving in Iraq "some" U.S. forces for three missions -- fighting al Qaeda, training Iraqi security forces and protecting U.S. forces conducting those two missions. Some experts believe that even 60,000 U.S, troops would be insufficient for those functions -- even if the Iraqis were not, as they will be for the foreseeable future, dependent on U.S. logistics, transport, fire support, air support, armor and medivac capabilities.
What is your estimate of the numbers required by your policy? How, and in consultation with whom, did you arrive at your estimate? As to fighting terrorists but not insurgents -- how would soldiers and Marines tell the difference? If, while searching for terrorists, they make contact with insurgents, would your rules of engagement call for a full force response? You say all "combat brigades" should be out of Iraq "by the end of next year." Even if al-Qaeda is still dangerous? Who, after the end of next year, will protect U.S. noncombat forces that you say "will continue to protect U.S. diplomats and facilities" and to "train and equip" Iraqi forces?
In an AP interview you argued that preventing genocide in Iraq is not a sound reason for keeping troops there: "By that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife, which we haven't done. We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven't done."
Do you think U.S. obligations to Iraq, and to the many Iraqis who have actively collaborated with us, are no greater than our obligations, if any, to the residents of the Congo or Darfur? Would a humanitarian disaster have to threaten to be a strategic disaster for the United States before an Obama administration would intervene militarily?
In his second Inaugural address, the president said: "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands." You have said: "In today's globalized world, the security of the American people is inextricably linked to the security of all people."
Well. Given that the goals of liberty and security can both generate foreign policy overreaching, and given the similarity between your formulation and Bush's, should people who are dismayed by Bush's universalizing imperative be wary of yours? Does not yours require interventions in Darfur -- where you say "rolling genocide" is occurring -- the Congo and similar situations?