Obama is set to speak about the end of combat operations in Iraq at 8:00 pm ET, and I’m sure it will be… interesting. The big question is, will Obama be graceful, do the right thing, and acknowledge George Bush’s role in the success of Iraq? George Bush made a bold move with the troop surge, one that Barack Obama — and most Democrats — fought every step of the way. Sarah Palin lays out the facts:
Iraq in 2010 is indeed a very long way from Iraq in 2006, when violence and sectarian conflict threatened complete chaos. But then-candidate Obama did not support the course that brought us here as his press secretary now claims. On January 10, 2007, when President Bush announced the surge, Senator Obama insisted that the surge would actually increase sectarian violence: “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq are going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.” Barack Obama was clearly in opposition to the surge strategy.
Had we followed the course advocated by then-candidates Obama and Biden, the Iraq war would be remembered now as a crushing defeat for the United States and our allies. Al Qaeda in Iraq and Iranian supported extremists would have claimed victory over America – with grave implications for us throughout the region and the world. Iraq would have descended into full-scale civil war. Iraq’s neighbor would have likely been drawn into the conflict. Parts of Iraq would have been made a safe haven for terrorists to train and plan for attacks far beyond Iraqi borders.
Fortunately for all of us, these events did not occur. They did not occur because America changed strategy in Iraq. President Bush decided to increase our forces in Iraq and pursue a counterinsurgency strategy – a course long advocated by Republicans in Washington. This “surge” policy in 2007 was opposed by many – most notably and adamantly by Senators Obama and Biden. In October 2006, as the violence was spiraling out of control, Senator Obama actually advocated reducing our troop presence: “It is clear at this point that we cannot, through putting in more troops or maintaining the presence that we have, expect that somehow the situation is going to improve, and we have to do something significant to break the pattern that we’ve been in right now.”
In response to President Bush’s State of the Union address on January 23, 2007, Senator Obama said: “I don’t think the president’s strategy is going to work…My suggestion to the president has been that the only way we’re going to change the dynamic in Iraq and start seeing political commendation is actually if we create a system of phased redeployment. And, frankly, the president, I think, has not been willing to consider that option, not because it’s not militarily sound but because he continues to cling to the belief that somehow military solutions are going to lead to victory in Iraq.”
Senator Joe Biden, just before the surge was formally announced, actually declared: “If he surges another 20, 30 [thousand], or whatever number he’s going to, into Baghdad, it’ll be a tragic mistake.”
In May 2007, Senator Obama voted against funding our troops in Iraq. Reporters have insinuated that I haven’t been telling the truth on this fact, but consider the fact: he did not support additional troop funding. Had his position prevailed, our troops would have been forced to leave Iraq precipitously and chaos would have ensued. Goodness, even Senator Biden voted for the funding and had to admit this about Senator Obama and others who opposed it: “My colleagues voted against the funding to make a political point. There’s no political point worth my son’s life. There’s no political point worth anyone’s life.” As the mother of a soldier who spent his year in Iraq recently, I have to agree with Biden on that point.
As it became clear in the summer of 2007 that the surge strategy was working, Senator Obama was still stubbornly in denial about the success our American troops were having, saying: “My assessment is that the surge has not worked and we will not see a different report eight weeks from now.” What willful blindness he showed with that assessment.
And even in November 2007, when everyone could see the success of the surge in reducing violence and increasing political space in Iraq, Senator Obama said: “Finally, in 2006-2007, we started to see that, even after an election, George Bush continued to want to pursue a course that didn’t withdraw troops from Iraq but actually doubled them and initiated a surge and at that stage I said very clearly, not only have we not seen improvements, but we’re actually worsening, potentially, a situation there.”
We do owe President Obama credit, though. While he did oppose the surge, he ultimately did the right thing in Iraq. And despite all of his blathering, he’s done it again in Afghanistan (although he certainly didn’t send enough troops, just the bare minimum). He also put General Petraeus in charge in Afghanistan, also a very good move. The question is, will he be humble enough to give Bush the credit he deserves?
Yeah, I won’t hold my breath.
YouTube will be streaming the speech live, so you can watch online there. I’ll update as the speech goes live.
I’d suggest you keep a barf bucket nearby.
UPDATE: Well, here is Obama’s weak Bush acknowledgement.
As we do, I am mindful that the Iraq War has been a contentious issue at home. Here, too, it is time to turn the page. This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq’s future.
How about, I was wrong and Bush was right?
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