Thursday, January 31, 2008

George Packer: "Hillary Clinton will hedge her bets on Iraq"

(I was going to work this into a bigger piece on JRE and Iraq, but, well, events got ahead of me, so I’ll just report on this point that seems to have, like so many substantive points in this race, gone underreported.)

Appearing on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show last week, George Packer, New Yorker writer and author of The Assassins' Gate, got to comparing the (then) three major Democrats left in the race. He had these two things to say (transcribed from the audio):

If a Democratic primary voter is concerned with getting out of Iraq as quickly as possible, then there is only one clear choice, and that is John Edwards.

. . . .

If you want to get out of Iraq as quickly as possible and you are trying to choose between Obama and Clinton—there is no way to choose.

I should note that Packer was not explaining his take on Edwards as a way of promoting him—quite the contrary. Indeed, Packer (a semi-repentant advocate of the 2003 invasion) believes US troops should not leave, as best I can tell, any time soon.

Instead, the man who just completed a multi-thousand word piece on Hillary Clinton sought to pay an odd compliment to the New York Senator by saying this: “Hillary Clinton will hedge her bets on Iraq.”

After reading that New Yorker piece (which focuses on Clinton, but also devotes a good amount of space to her now one remaining rival), I get the sense that he expects Obama to also “wake up” to what Packer sees as the necessity of an extended military commitment. Apparently, as he explained on the radio, because the US has enlisted so many collaborators that our government will not now—to any meaningful extent—allow to immigrate here, Packer thinks that we need to stay and protect them there. (I’m all for aiding the people who have risked so much in service to the US, but I question how much we are helping anyone by maintaining our current posture.)

Alas, after listening to him on WNYC, and reading his New Yorker article “The Choice,” Packer has made the choice now thrust upon me very much harder.

As if it weren’t hard enough.

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