CNN Sr. Political Analyst
Hello everyone – tried to post a blog earlier but I am afraid that it got lost in the system – perhaps it was eaten by that dog!
Anyway, to be brief, was trying to say tonight on air that I welcome the Obama trip overseas – and hope it sets a precedent for all future candidates. At the same time, as an old-fashioned institutionalist who was strongly shaped by working in the White House, I believe that whether a President is right or wrong on policy, we have only one President at a time and he must be the chief negotiator with other countries, especially in a time of war.
It is not clear that Senator Obama was trying to negotiate with Maliki – probably just the opposite – but in issuing that statement after the meeting, he left himself open to the charge that he was.
That's why I thought it was a mistake – the first in what has been so far a very successful trip.
Hope this helps. Thanks.
Editor's note: Here's what David Gergen said Monday on AC360°:
"Barack Obama made the first mistake of his trip in releasing a statement in which he said exactly what Malaki had said in those conversations. We have a long tradition in this country that we only have one president at a time. He's the commander in chief and negotiator in chief.
I cannot remember a campaign which a rival seeking the presidency has been in a position negotiating a war that's underway with another party outside the country. I think he leaves himself open to the charge tonight that he's meddling, that this is not his role, that he can be the critic but he's not the negotiator. We have a President who does that.
So i think the underlying facts support him, but i think it was be a mistake to get intro these conversations and let it be used politically."
Editor's note: The man called the "Butcher of Bosnia" has finally been caught. Radovan Karadzic led Bosnian Serbs back in the 1990s. He also allegedly led a campaign to kill Bosnian Muslims in what was widely called ethnic cleansing. CNN's Chief International Correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, joined us on AC360°. She offered this perspective earlier by phone.
This is a very good day for international justice. Radovan Karadzic has been on the run for more than 10 years now. He was indicted twice back in 1995, not just for the siege of Sarajevo and the wholesale slaughter of Bosnian Muslims and Croats around Bosnia, but also more specifically for the massacre at Srebrenica on July 11, 1995, when more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were separated and slaughtered.
This was the worst massacre in Europe since World War II. And after the U.S. brokered the Dayton Accords, which ended the Bosnian war, Radovan Karadzic was meant to be handed over, along with his fellow henchman, the former Bosnian Serb General, Ratko Mladic, who is still on the run.
This, of course, has been a great shame for the international community. They have refused to get too far into trying to capture him while NATO forces were in Bosnia. They were afraid of getting hurt. They were afraid of all sorts of instability, and they did not go after him hard enough.
His being at large has held up Serbia's full integration into the international community and the European Union. His capture and Mladic's capture have been a condition for accepting Serbia into the European Union
And now he's been captured after many, many years hiding out, finally captured in Serbia. It's been welcomed by the head of the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, where Radovan Karadzic will shortly be dispatched to hear the formal charges and face prosecution.
Tonight on AC360° we began with breaking news about a statement from Sen. Barack Obama, Jack Reed and Chuck Hagel about their meetings in Iraq. Here is the statement:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement of Senators Obama, Reed, and Hagel on Trip to Iraq
BAGHDAD, IRAQ – U.S. Senators Barack Obama, Jack Reed and Chuck Hagel traveled today to Iraq, first to Basra, then to Baghdad. In Basra, they met with U.S., British and Iraqi troops; Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, Commander Multinational Corps – Iraq; Major General Barney White-Spunner (UK), Commander, Multinational Division Southeast; and Major General Abdul Aziz, Commander, 14th Iraqi Army Division. In Baghdad, the Senators met with U.S. troops; Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki; President Jalal Talabani; Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi; and Vice President Adil Abdulmahdi. They received a detailed briefing from and consulted extensively with U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus, Commander, MNF Iraq. They visited with doctors, nurses and patients at the 86th Combat Support Hospital and took part in a helicopter over flight of Baghdad conducted by General Petraeus.
"We are in Iraq to thank our troops, diplomats and civilians for the remarkable job they are doing and to let them know that, back home, Americans are proud of them. We came to consult with our military leaders, embassy team and the Iraqi government about a way forward in Iraq that advances the interests of the United States, Iraq and the entire region.
"We found a strong, emerging consensus on a number of critical points:
"First, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our armed forces, more effective Iraqi security forces, the decision by the Sunni Awakening to fight ‘Al Qaeda in Iraq' and the cease-fire by Shiite militia, violence in Iraq is down significantly. An overwhelming majority of Iraqis reject what remains of ‘Al Qaeda in Iraq' and violent militias.
"Second, political progress, reconciliation and economic development continue to lag. There has been some forward movement, but not nearly enough to bring lasting stability to Iraq.
"Third, Iraqis want an aspirational timeline, with a clear date, for the redeployment of American combat forces. Prime Minister Maliki told us that while the Iraqi people deeply appreciate the sacrifices of American soldiers, they do not want an open-ended presence of U.S. combat forces. The Prime Minister said that now is an appropriate time to start to plan for the reorganization of our troops in Iraq - including their numbers and missions. He stated his hope that U.S. combat forces could be out of Iraq in 2010.
"Fourth, Iraqis seek a long term partnership with the United States to promote political and economic progress and lasting stability. In particular, they want our continued help in training Iraqi security forces, helping conduct counter-terrorism operations, developing Iraq's economy and advancing political compromise. Vice President Abdulmahdi noted that "the quality of American engagement matters more than the quantity."
"We raised a number of other issues with the Iraqi leadership, including our deep concern about Iranian financial and material assistance to militia engaged in violent acts against American and Iraqi forces; the need to secure public support through our respective legislatures for any long term security agreements our countries negotiate; the importance of doing more to help the more than 4 million Iraqis who are refugees or internally displaced persons; and the need to give our troops immunity from Iraqi prosecution so long as they are in Iraq.
"America has a strategic opportunity to build a new kind of partnership with Iraq and to refocus our foreign policy on the many other pressing challenges around the world – starting with the resurgence of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan."
Good Evening! Senator Barack Obama is 6,200 miles from the campaign trail and trying to look presidential. Do you think it's working? Today the Democratic presidential candidate met with Iraq's Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki. The Iraqi government says it hopes U.S. troops will be gone by 2010. Yes, if you're checking your 2009-2010 calender, that's similar to Obama's 16-month timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq if he's elected. But don't think that's an Iraqi edorsement of Obama. We'll have the raw politics, tonight on 360.
We're also looking at the decision by the New York Times to reject an op-ed written by John McCain.
Sen. John McCain campaigned in Kennebunkport, Maine, today with former President George H.W. Bush. Here is a CNN political correspondent Dana Bash's report from the trail:
CNN Political Correspondent
In the presser below you see that Bush 41 declined every opportunity to dive into the Iraq debate, or anything campaign related at all, except to say that he supports McCain.
After the presser, McCain walked away a lot faster than Bush... and Bush made his way over to us in the press corps to say hello and welcome.
Our camera was still rolling, so I tried to go back at Bush one more time, asking "would you indulge just one more question?"
"I'll indulge it but I might not answer it," Bush replied.
"I have a whole new philosophy," he said.
"What's that?" I asked.
"To stay the hell out of public way, stay out of the press," said Bush.
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Sen. John McCain, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and his wife Judith Giuliani, walk through Monument Park before the New York Yankees versus Oakland Athletics baseball game, Sunday.
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Author, THE LONG BABY BOOM: An Optimistic Vision for a Graying Generation
The chorus of doomsayers wailing about the impending “retirement” of the aging baby boom is almost deafening- legions of boomers quitting work, moving to Florida, playing MahJongg, and listening to their old Jimmy Buffet records, swamping our fraying safety net with Social Security and Medicare costs.
What’s the problem with this scenario? Simply, no-one seems actually to have spoken to a boomer about it. The vast majority of us have no intention of retiring as our parents did. Our parents were bored silly in retirement; according to gerontologist Ken Dychtwald, today’s retirees watch 43 hrs of television a week, and half wish they were still working. Their health and mood both deteriorated sharply when they stopped working.
Learning from our parents’ experiences, more than 80% of baby boomers plan on working past age 65. While some boomers who haven’t saved enough to retire would suffer a massive drop in their living standards if they didn’t work, for most of us, it is simply that we don’t know how to not work. FULL POST
TIME Magazine columnist
The Iraqis have been sending signals for months. They didn't want long term U.S. bases. They didn't want U.S. troops acting independently any more. They wanted some sort of drawdown...and now this, which will have different meanings in both Iraq and the United States.
In Iraq, it means that Maliki now feels confident that he is in charge of the government–and that the government's internal opposition, the Sunni insurgent remnants and the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr don't have the strength to threaten him (or his Kurdish and Hakim family allies). It may also mean that he feels he has the strength to handle, by inclusion or exclusion, the Sunni Awakening forces that were raised and funded by the U.S. military. It should also be clear that Maliki isn't commenting on the military viability of a 16 month withdrawal schedule: he has no idea about the logistics or problems involved in removing 130,000 troops and huge amounts of equipment from the theater of battle.
In short, what Maliki is saying is: Please leave, as soon as possible. He may be saying this for local, political reasons, in the runup to the regional Iraqi elections, but he's saying it.