Obama: Willing To Meet Ahmadinejad But Not Petraeus?

Petraeus Gesturing Photo Jim Geraghty, commenting on Barack Obama’s dismissal of John McCain’s invitation to tour Iraq with him as “a political stunt,” muses,

[I]sn’t Obama vulnerable to the argument that a man who’s pledged to meet unconditionally, one-on-one, face-to-face with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad really ought to meet at least once one-on-one with Gen. David Petraeus?

It’s simultaneously superb polemic and rather silly.

While I disagree with Obama on the merits of lending presidential prestige to despots without something substantial in exchange, it’s far from clear what that has to do with taking a gentlemen’s tour of Baghdad. The United States military is not about to allow two Senators, much less the presumptive major party nominees for president, go anywhere near harm’s way so any Iraq visit would indeed be mostly political theater. Surely, Obama is in a position to gather any facts he might wish to have about the war in Iraq? Or even get a few minutes with Petraeus?

Photo: It’s ONLY Politics. Amusingly, I was unable to find any photos of Petraeus and Obama together. A photo search for “Obama Petraeus,” oddly, returned numerous pics of Petraeus with both Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bithead says:

    Obama is refusing to meet with Petraeus, for the same reason he won’t go to Iraq with McCain.Obama is about shielding himself from the truth of Iraq. If it doesn’t meet his rather thin narrative, he tries to sweep it under the rug.

    His narrative is so weak, it cannot withstand any input from anyone but himself and his handlers. Like, for example, from the Iraqi people…. or the General.

    Some leader he’ll make, huh?

  2. c. wagener says:

    Yes, Obama is in the position to gather facts about the war in Iraq. But he is also in the position to gather facts regarding history, economics, tax policy, education policies, military weapons, current events, the city he is currently in, the number of states in the union, etc. He hasn’t seen fit to take advantage of that either.

  3. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    One of these people is the elected representative of 65 million people. The other is not.

    McCain’s surrogate’s talking point on Petraeus is awfully weak. Obama has been briefed by Petraeus in his role on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at least once, in April 2008, and possibly on other dates.

  4. sam says:

    …so any Iraq visit would indeed be mostly political theater

    Will Joe Lieberman accompany McCain to make sure John gets his lines right?

  5. anjin-san says:

    so any Iraq visit would indeed be mostly political theater.

    A lot like McCain’s “stroll” through Baghdad.

    It is worth noting that McCain’s boots on the ground time in Iraq does not seem to have enlightened him as to the difference between Sunni and Shia…

  6. yetanotherjohn says:

    Yes, he wouldn’t be dodging sniper fire or leading a patrol, but that does not mean that a trip to Iraq would not let him get information he doesn’t seem to be getting. Let him eat lunch with the men who were on the patrol and hear what they think. Let him meet with the Iraqi civilian and military leaders face to face and hear what they think of his surrender plans.

    The bottom line is that Obama is willing to meet with out preconditions Ahmadinejad, but he is afraid to meet with Al-Maliki because he might just learn how unhinged from reality his surrender plans are. In short, he wants to be buds with those who hate America but not those who are allied with America. Maybe it”s his choice in pastor showing through.

  7. anjin-san says:

    but not those who are allied with America.

    News flash! Al-Maliki is a pro-Iranian warlord who goes through the motions of being our ally because our military keeps him in power and we give him money. A lot of it.

  8. Will Joe Lieberman accompany McCain to make sure John gets his lines right?

    No, he has to stay at home to show Obama where Auschwitz is located on a map.

  9. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Pilot, I thought al Maliki was elected. I guess you Anjin are the decider of all things. You are so full of shit you stink.

  10. Wyatt Earp says:

    I think Anjin believe the al_Maliki election was crafted by Karl Rove.

  11. anjin-san says:


    It is common knowledge that Iran supports Maliki. As do you, apparently. Not much of an American, are you pal?

  12. anjin-san says:

    Obama: Willing To Meet Ahmadinejad But Not Petraeus

    Please show us where Obama has said he will not meet with Petraeus.

    What is actually happening here is Obama has said that he will not meet with Petreaus at a time and place of McCain’s choosing, but certainly not that he is unwilling to meet with Petreaus period.

    Why the misleading header?

  13. James Joyner says:

    Why the misleading header?

    It’s a paraphrasing of the quote that forms the launching point of the post.

  14. John425 says:

    Obama is afraid of being “fragged” by American troops for his despicable attitude towards them.

  15. anjin-san says:

    It’s a paraphrasing of the quote that forms the launching point of the post.

    It sounds like a statement of fact. What it needs is a ?

  16. anjin-san says:

    his despicable attitude towards them

    Please support this with even a single fact…

  17. Bithead says:

    There are several. Ben Shapiro pointed up one recently:

    Obama gave a graduation speech at Wesleyan University on Sunday, May 25. In it, he praised students for their public service. He also asked them to forego the business world in favor of careers in public service. “I ask you to seek these opportunities when you leave here, because the future of this country — your future — depends on it. At a time when our security and moral standing depend on winning hearts and minds in the forgotten corners of this world, we need more of you to serve abroad. As president, I intend to grow the Foreign Service, double the Peace Corps over the next few years, and engage the young people of other nations in similar programs, so that we work side by side to take on the common challenges that confront all humanity.”

    Notice anything missing in that list of public service jobs Obama will push?

    Yeah, really.. and this in a Memorial day speech, of all things?

    You know why.

  18. spencer says:

    Actually, Bithead, he has proposed increasing the military. But on the other hand Bush has not been in favor of expanding the military or even giving them a pay raise. If you think expanding the military or even supporting out troops, is a good idea why do you still support Bush?

  19. Bithead says:

    Uh huh.
    And would Bush’s hypothetical call to expand the military be well received by the Democrats, do you think?

  20. anjin-san says:

    Nice try Bit, public service and military service are two different things. Even if they were not, this example of “despicable” is a joke.

    And it is certainly worth noting that Obama strongly supports the Webb GI bill which McCain opposes.

    Support the troops folks… wear a lapel pin.

    (lets not forget that Bush is fighting mental health benefits for the troops tooth and nail, even as suicides among combat vets mount….)

    Really, all you need is a lapel pin.

  21. Bob says:

    Spencer and Bithead, newsflash – both the Army and Marines AC & Reserve endstrength is being increased. Now, under Bush. The Navy and AF endstrengths are being reduced.

  22. Bithead says:

    But note the thrust of his question, here. He wasn’t asking about results… he was asking for a statement from Bush about it. Talking, apparenty being more important than doing.

    I mean, consider; Does anyone really think that when Democrats call for a draft, it’s because they’re supporting the war, or even a larger military?

  23. G.A.Phillips says:

    Some great diplomat this slickwilly Jr is, he only wants to meat with his allies and not his enemies how can we get anywhere with this kind of diplomacy?