At the Democratic Strategist, political scientist Bruce Jentleson gives advice to Barack Obama about how he should reconcile his stated principles with what's happening in Iraq: emphasize that his 16-month troop withdrawal committment is at its core a strategy; be "unwavering" in that respect. But then, emphasize (paradoxically?) that the 16 month timeframe is a "strategy" and not a "fixed timeline." Third: emphasize regional and global diplomacy and a break from a cowboy Bush approach. Fourth: emphasize the challenge of Afghanistan. This would be helpful to Obama if were not already following these guidelines to the letter.

Where Jentleson may be on to something is where he notes that Obama's focus on diplomacy tends to highlight the commander-in-chief bar that he has yet to cross; the way to solve this problem is to emphasize an affinity with the military itself; to recognize and even say, explicitly, that force and diplomacy are both appropriate weapons that a competent commander-in-chief will use. So whenever Obama talks about withdrawing troops from Iraq, he should also talk about the need for more U.S. troops to defeat a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. Or the need to keep U.S. troops in the region (not the country) to contain the threat of Iran (even if he does not intend to use those troops.)

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