It's been brought to my attention that Barack Obama's position on a training mission in Iraq is more clear than I'd thought. Here's Obama talking to Michael Gordon:

We’ve seen progress against AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq], but they are a resilient group and there’s the possibility that they might try to set up new bases. I think that we should have some strike capability. But that is a very narrow mission, that we get in the business of counter terrorism as opposed to counter insurgency and even on the training and logistics front, what I have said is, if we have not seen progress politically, then our training approach should be greatly circumscribed or eliminated.



I think that's exactly right. He goes on to say he does "not want us to be in the business of training and equipping factions or militias that are going to be turning on each other," but is willing to hold training and equipment out as a carrot for some kind of hypothetical post-reconciliation government. In short, Obama and Edwards both have the right policy on this and Clinton has the wrong one.

UPDATE: Armando in comments says he doesn't understand how Clinton's position differs from Edwards and Obama. The answer is that, as I understand it, Clinton still stands by her proposal to maintain residual forces in Iraq whose mission would unconditionally include "Training Iraqi security forces" and "Providing logistic support of Iraqi security forces." Clinton's plans echo CNAS's phased transition proposal whereas Obama and Edwards have evolved toward CAP's strategic reset proposal.

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