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August 13, 2007

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON ON POLITICS:

Yet the universal human desire to be associated in the here and now with the assumed winning side — and to shun perceived defeat — trumps them all. Throughout this war, that natural urge explains most of the volatile and shifting views of our politicians, pundits and media as they scramble to readjust to the up-and-down daily news from Iraq.

And so it is with the latest positioning about the surge that to a variety of observers seems successful — at least for now.

A lot of people do seem kind of fickle that way. Related thoughts here: "To paraphrase John Kerry: Who wants to be the last person calling for the U.S. to surrender a war the Army is winning? Apparently not Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama or the New York Times, which just 5 weeks ago said genocide was better than having U.S. troops keep the peace in Iraq."

And still more here.

UPDATE: Barack Obama's latest Iraq strategy.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm. The Pajamas Media item above links to this article on Obama from The Guardian, with this passage:

Answering a question on how he would refocus U.S. troops out of Iraq to better fight terrorism, he said, ``We've to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there.''

But if you read this version of the same AP story from Breitbart.com, the passage is different:

Asked whether he would move U.S. troops out of Iraq to better fight terrorism elsewhere, he brought up Afghanistan and said, "We've got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there."

I suspect that the Breitbart version is more accurate than the Guardian version, because when I read it originally in The Guardian I remember thinking that this would have been a marginally plausible criticism of Afghanistan policy (though the "killing civilians" bit is mostly Taliban propaganda) but was utterly nonsensical in the context of Iraq. I assumed Obama was conflating the two, but it appears that the error is the AP's.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader D.G. Robertson sends this link to a report from the Nashua Telegraph, which has the Obama quote this way:

“Now you have narco drug lords who are helping to finance the Taliban, so we’ve got to get the job done there, and that requires us to have enough troops that we are not just air raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there,’’ Obama said.

Well, the narco drug lords are an issue -- has he been reading StrategyPage? Actually, probably not, as here's what StrategyPage says about air raids and "civilian casualties:"

Last week, U.S. forces detected a meeting of Taliban leaders in southern Afghanistan. Smart bombs hit the meeting, which had gathered over a hundred Taliban followers to witness the execution of two men suspected of passing information to the government. Over a hundred people were killed. The Taliban promptly claimed most of the dead were civilians. But they always do that, and no one believes them anymore.

No one but Obama, I guess. Robertson also notes that not long ago Obama was saying that the lives of U.S. troops killed in Iraq were "wasted."

Meanwhile, also from the Nashua Telegraph, is this rather inflammatory quote:

Campaign spokesman Reid Cherlin said Obama was not endorsing the current Bush policy, which consists solely of air raids and bombing of civilians.

Really? Solely? Evidence that the Obama campaign remains unready for primetime, I'm afraid. Or another botched quote from the press, I guess . . . .

I tried to find an email for inquiries on Obama's site, but the closest I could come to was an interview request form. If anybody from the campaign is reading this and wants to clarify, you can email me at pundit -at- instapundit.com.

MORE: Allah says I'm wrong about the civilian casualties, last week's bogus reports notwithstanding. But he doesn't address the Obama campaign's charge that our strategy revolves around bombing civilians. Nor have I heard from the Obama campaign on that issue.