Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Say: Let Obama Take Credit For The Retreat From Iraq

As a candidate for this office I pledged I would end this war; as President, that’s what I’m doing.
Obama
I think where he has to be careful is that you don’t want to claim too much. You don’t want to put too rosy a picture on it. ... You don’t want to be held responsible.
Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan
Pity President Obama--he fulfills a campaign promise, and nobody cares:
Obama did what he said he would in Iraq, removing over 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq since he came into office. But the fact that the political situation there is still unresolved, that 50,000 U.S. troops remain in an advisory and assist role, and that many Americans have moved on from thinking much about Iraq as their concern has turned to the economy and Afghanistan have muted public recognition for the rare if incomplete foreign policy achievement, and has got to be somewhat frustrating for the White House...
As has been mentioned by others, Obama never promised to win the war in Iraq, nor he made no mention of victory. He promised to take the troops out, and that is what he did--while the fighting continues. Just last week, a series of terrorist attacks inside Iraq killed dozens of Iraqis.

After all, if Obama makes clear that the US is not in Iraq to win and that it has a timetable on leaving--what more could the insurgents hope for?

So now Obama is claiming a personal victory, though there is no military one--and that will require touching up the record.

Byron York writes about a press conference, where White House Spokeman Robert Gibbs recalls Obama's support for the surge:
"Does the president believe the surge worked?"

"The president always believed that you would change part of the security situation by vastly increasing the number of troops," Gibbs said. "But again I think it was important -- and the president was criticized for this throughout the campaign -- and that is saying that we were not going to accomplish all of what needed to be done in Iraq simply militarily, that there had to be a political accommodation.
Putting aside the question of whether Obama has in fact accomplished "all of what needed to be done in Iraq," the fact is that Obama has not "always believed that you would change part of the security situation by vastly increasing the number of troops"--Obama did not support the surge until his predictions were proven wrong and the surge started proving itself.

Notes York:
Since Gibbs says it is important to examine Obama's old statements on the surge, there is this, from January 2007: "We cannot impose a military solution on what has effectively become a civil war," Obama said on CBS' Face the Nation. "And until we acknowledge that reality, we can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops. I don't know any expert on the region or any military officer that I've spoken to privately that believe that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground."

A few months later, in July 2007, Obama told an audience in New Hampshire, "Here's what we know: the surge has not worked."

By January 2008, with the surge working, Obama revised his remarks at a debate in New Hampshire: "Now, I had no doubt -- and I said at the time, when I opposed the surge, that given how wonderfully our troops perform, if we place 30,000 more troops in there, then we would see an improvement in the security situation and we would see a reduction in the violence." [emphasis added]
Apparently, Obama had as much difficulty assembling expert advice then as he does now, but the change from July when he spoke about "what we know" to January, six months later, "I had no doubt" is staggering.

But no less staggering than the mess Obama has left behind in Iraq.
But don't worry, Obama is working on a timetable to get troops out of Afghanistan.

No problem--Iran can wait.

[Hat tip: Powerline]

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