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Obama To Visit Iraq, Afghanistan Before Election

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Obama to Visit Iraq, Afghanistan Before Election
Barack Obama says he is going to visit Iraq and Afghanistan before the November election. Obama has said before he was considering a trip, but his comment to reporters Monday was his first firm declaration that he will be making the trip. He said more details will be announced shortly.

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stephley stephley 8 years
It will be interesting to see how the troops interact with Obama - I've seen a couple of pieces about soldiers who plan to vote for him. How will it be seen in Washington if his reception is too enthusiastic?
stephley stephley 8 years
Anytime a politician goes to any warzone and tries to get too independent, they risk serious criticism that they're showboating, trying to undermine the operation, or score political points at someone else's expense.
sarah_bellum sarah_bellum 8 years
I agree that a vast array of sources is necessary. The reason I feel positively about these trips is that the lower-ranking military personnel who are actually out there getting the job done get more of a chance to speak and engage with their potential leaders than in any other circumstance I can think of. "I wonder what kind of freedom candidates get in Iraq to handle the visit they chose. Could they go in secret, could they interview civilians, Iraqi PM, members of the parliment, etc.?" I don't think so. I'm pretty sure they are restricted to bases and if they do go out they are surrounded by a convoy and pretty heavily guarded. I'm going to ask my dad the next time we speak though; this thread brought up the same question for me.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
I think information has to come from a lot of sources to build an accurate view of the big picture. I do agree that high ranking military officials in Iraq are must have sources for strategy. But I also think that you have to take into consideration that, especially with this administration, many people whose military experience told them something that differed with the Bush plan were let go. You have to go to more sources than just the high military officers, but they are valuable none the less. I wonder what kind of freedom candidates get in Iraq to handle the visit they chose. Could they go in secret, could they interview civilians, Iraqi PM, members of the parliment, etc.?
sarah_bellum sarah_bellum 8 years
I do agree that we are missing each others' points. "the experiences of someone who has spent significant time in Iraq will give rise to a more informed view of the situation than a week-long trip by the candidate will." I absolutely agree but simultaneously think that this may be where we are getting our wires crossed. These trips are in large part about hearing the opinions and experiences of those who have been and are there as we speak. Of course he wouldn't be deliberately put in danger, but that doesn't mean he won't be informed of the realities of the situation by those with actual first hand experience. Maybe it's just that I'm getting the feeling you think the journalists on the ground are somehow less biased than the military and I feel the opposite. I just feel like a briefing or a report is more easily manipulated or misinterpreted than an actual conversation. I only bring up the debate, etc. issue because I don't believe that there is an instant where a high-ranking politician isn't being "handled" in one way or another, and that theoretically this would be no different than those stupid hospital/charity/natural disaster/whatever else they do tours.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
My talking points? I'm not trying to be combative. I'm sincere when I say I don't know how else to say this: the experiences of someone who has spent significant time in Iraq will give rise to a more informed view of the situation than a week-long trip by the candidate will. So I think the candidate would be better off listening to people who have spent time there and are well informed of the circumstances. Due to security reasons (nevermind the bias of the U.S. military personnel who would have to coordinate the trip) the candidate would not get to see any situation where there could be any danger. Nor would he ever be alone in a room with someone who's angry and thinks there are good reasons for the U.S. to leave. I think maybe we're having a miscommunication, because you've posed the two options as a trip by the candidate to Iraq or "a press conference, photocall or a debate in America." When I say he should speak to reporters who have been on the ground or should rely on briefings, I certainly don't mean in public. I'm imagining private conversations or small group meetings where participants are free to share their thoughts and experiences.
sarah_bellum sarah_bellum 8 years
You were very clear in sticking to your talking points. I'm genuinely curious as to why you believe that reading a brief or speaking to the press would be less biased than a visit, when even at a press conference, photocall or a debate in America a presumptive nominee would be in a heavily controlled and monitored setting.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
I'm sorry, I thought I was clear: he won't get to see any area that's deemed unsafe. Anyone who he talks to will have been screened. They're not just going to let him meander around and talk to random people.
sarah_bellum sarah_bellum 8 years
You didn't answer my question. Why do you think that a visit will be any less balanced or real than speaking to the press or reading a brief?
True-Song True-Song 8 years
It seems like he could speak to the press who have been working there without going there, but that's not what's really important. I don't think he will go there just looking for the pros, but his visit will have to be coordinated by the U.S. military, and I don't think the situations and people he will be presented with will give any kind of balanced or real impression of the situation.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
torgleson, the last time Obama was in Iraq he took some of the press that had been there for years off to the side, and asked them to tell him what they saw and what their opinion was. We shall see. I thought it was an unique tactic. I haven't said anything, because I don't want to antagonize anyone, but in my humble opinion, I think that John McCain's walk through the market in April was just a photo op. He was suggesting that “are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods" while 100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships stayed out of camera range. Yes, if Obama just goes and does something like this it won't be productive. However, I think that McCain probably talked to quite a few people there, and I imagine Obama would do the same. He has proven to me consistently that he wants the pros and cons of situations, not just what works for him. I just hope he learns from McCain and avoids the photo op.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Do you honestly think he will be put in a room with someone who is angry about the U.S. presence? Do you think he will get a glimpse of any of the incessant violence? He will get a watered down version of the situation, a tidy pre-packaged, sanitized visit. I do not think it will give him any additional insight.
sarah_bellum sarah_bellum 8 years
"Because it will not give him any insight he could not get from a briefing, and it will certainly color his views is a way that makes it seem like things are going better than they are." I wonder where you get your info about how things are going over there?
True-Song True-Song 8 years
This is a bad idea. It's a bad idea for high-ranking politicians to visit Iraq or Afghanistan. Why? Because it will not give him any insight he could not get from a briefing, and it will certainly color his views is a way that makes it seem like things are going better than they are. Will he be taken to dangerous areas? No. Will he speak to non-pre-screened citizens? No. He will see the rosiest view of the region possible.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
I think learning about the pros and cons to what is happening will certainly be helpful.
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
I'm not sure what could really come of this other than a photo op. A big part of his run is tacked on to him wanting to get the troops out ASAP. If he acknowledges the success in the region, doesn't that take away from his standpoint? Or maybe he could use it to say "hey we're doing good, now we're free to get out w/o turmoil"? I dunno, other than saying that he's done it to avoud the criticism, I don't see what he will gain.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
Little side note, McCain did not re-visit Iraq until he had cinched his party's nomination as well. :)
stephley stephley 8 years
Wait til the others weigh in Jill...
stephley stephley 8 years
I knew what you meant. It doesn't matter what he says though, they'll give McCain credit, call it too little too late...
Jillness Jillness 8 years
I don't see how it could be anymore organic. He went 2 years ago. For the past year and a half he has been trying to introduce himself to voters nationally in the US. Now that he has the "presumtive nominee" title, he has the time to go visit. I feel that any visit after a person enters a bid for the Presidency would feel political, no matter what. Just my humble little opinion, though. :)
raciccarone raciccarone 8 years
That's what I meant, Stephley. It doesn't seem organic. He should at least address that fact so that people don't feel like he's using the troops as a photo op.
stephley stephley 8 years
It feels like he was pressured into it. I wish he had said no, even though it should blunt criticism from the other side. The troops' reception could be interesting.
raciccarone raciccarone 8 years
It just seems as though the timing is a little ... overtly political?
Jillness Jillness 8 years
How is it pandering? :?
raciccarone raciccarone 8 years
Okay, this is just pandering. Sorry.
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