The Democratic candidates' stance on Iraq

letter to Financial Times, January 22, 2008

The military successes of the last year show that Iraq can defeat terrorist assault, but only if its allies honor their commitments. Neither Democrat front runner seems to wish to do so. This is shameful and very dangerous.

Sir, James Rubin explains (FT January 18) why he thinks Hillary Clinton is better able to deal with Iraq than her Democratic rival Barack Obama. Perhaps, but both candidates are irresponsibly denying the progrethat has been made in Iraq in the last year and are calling for a swift abandonment of the Iraqi people. To her credit, Mrs Clinton voted for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein - in this she was true to her husband's position as president that a final confrontation with the recalcitrant Baathist regime was inevitable. Since then she constantly slid backwards; she reached a nadir last September when she accused General David Petraeus, the courageous architect of the successful "surge" policy in Iraq of lying. She told him only a "willing suspension of disbelief" could show that the surge had done any good. In fact it has cut both US and Iraqi deaths and liberated whole areas from Al Qaida's terror. But Mrs Clinton stands by her statement. She and Mr Obama now seem to be anxious only to compete for the speediest timetable of withdrawal, no matter what the conditions in Iraq.


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