11 July 2008

Obama Yuks it Up With Military Times

Since Obama is the front runner in recent polling, it's probably best to get acquainted with his policy on the military and foreign issues. Military Times has some pretty in-depth interviews on video over on their site and here's a quick breakdown free of obscenities:

  • Private Security Contractors: Obama says that third-country nationals employed by KBR in the DFAC is okay, but he is concerned with security contractors involved in armed engagements. Most contractors are decent people just trying to make a living, but the rule of law is ambiguous as it applies to the few yahoos. This has negative effects on our mission in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I agree with the senator here.
  • Accountability of Officers: Obama says military officers need to be held accountable. I don't see why he needs to ramble on about this issue (it's pretty much a given, like talking for a minute-and-a-half about the sky being blue). He seems rather uncomfortable talking about the specifics of the military, showing his experience and knowledge of military jargon is a bit limited. But that's not to say the President has to be versed on the specific day-to-day routine of the little people, but I sure hope he gets some damn good advisers if elected, because he'd be the boss.
  • On SECDEF Gates: Obama has words of praise for Secretary of Defense Gates. I agree. Gates has been an apolitical cabinet member who's expertise is focused on improving military morale while prosecuting two concurrent wars (not an easy job). However, Obama remains ambiguous about whether or not he is going to keep him on.
  • Calls for repeal of DADT: Obama wants to scrap Don't Ask Don't Tell and allow gays to serve openly. They do in every other profession (except some religious institutions), and it's a bit embarassing that the military is still behind the times on this.
  • Improve the VA: Obama takes swipes at the Bush Administration about poor care of veterans, but doesn't talk much about how he is going to improve it. Blah, blah, something about McCain proposing a corporate tax cut, blah, blah. It's crazy how political veteran benefits have become, and Obama is not helping with this segment.
  • Leaving Iraq: Obama says he won't do a preciptous Iraq withdrawal, but encourages a responsible one. His policy is a bit vague, but it's a bit difficult to make definitive policy when the reality in Iraq changes in such a heartbeat. Of course, now that Maliki want a US troop withdrawal and violence is down, why would it be controversial to argue against a withdraw? Ed Morrissey agrees that "it's okay" to advoacte a responsible withdrawal of military forces in Iraq.
Obama seems keen on a few military issues that have broad support (repeal of DADT, and VA benefits), but his foreign policy still seems a bit vague at this point in the campaign. It'll be interesting to keep up what the candidates are saying as events happen overseas. Obama's military policies seem, for the most part, reasonable. But his stance on economic issues can be best summarized by the Jimmy Carter statue from The Simpsons:

Malaise Forever!