Two or Three Things I Know About the Iraq War
In anticipation of President Barack Obama’s primetime address to the nation last night on the Iraq War, columnist Eugene Robinson wrote, “Now that the Iraq War is over… only one thing is clear about the outcome: We didn’t win.”
Actually, I can think of about 12 things that are clearer about the outcome of the Iraq War than the conclusion that we didn’t win: (1) Obama was wrong about the surge, (2) Vice President Joe Biden was wrong about the surge, (3) President George W. Bush was right to ignore Congressional Democrats and the Iraq Study Group and order the surge in 2007, (4) insurgent violence dropped precipitously after the surge was implemented, (5) if Democrats had had their way on the surge in Iraq, per Harry Reid’s declaration that “this war is lost,” it would have been lost, (6) Biden was wrong about dividing Iraq into ethnic partitions, (7) Biden is a loon for claiming that the Iraq War could be one of the great successes of the Obama administration, (8) Iraq is now the fourth-most politically free Middle Eastern country, after democracy Israel, republic Lebanon, and constitutional monarchy Morocco, (9) General David Petraeus’ Iraq surge set the model for beating back insurgents and winning in Afghanistan, (10) despite liberals’ bleating about its expense, eight years of the Iraq War—including training and preparation for the March 2003 invasion—now turn out to have cost less ($709 billion) than Obama’s useless trillion-dollar stimulus bill, (11) Bush’s popularity didn’t sink to the level that Obama’s is at now until late 2005, two-and-a-half years into the Iraq War and well into Bush’s second term, and (12) Obama’s address last night was full of bromides, revisionist history, and platitudinous prescriptions for the future that have little relation to what will actually need to be done in the War on Terror according to a fair evaluation of conditions on the ground.
But then I’m not Eugene Robinson, who recently called those who wanted an investigation into Park51 mosque supporter Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s radical ties “loudmouths,” “fraidy-cats,” and “professional victims,” dismissed Tea Partiers as racists, and called Dr. Alveeda King a “puppet” for appearing at Glen Beck’s Restoring Honor rally.
Oh, and: (13) if anyone deserves to give a triumphal speech marking the end of combat operations in Iraq, it is Bush, Petraeus, Vice President Dick Cheney, or Kermit the Frog—anyone but Obama, who opposed the war from the start and voted as U.S. senator to defund it.
And: (14) Obama has learned nothing about the danger of prematurely promising to remove our troops by a certain date and the fortifying effect this has on our enemy, as demonstrated by his declaration in his speech that we will begin removing troops from Afghanistan in July 2011 according to his preordained schedule, and by his standing commitment to remove all 50,000 troops still stationed in Iraq by the end of 2011.
Not to mention: (15) the most factual elements of Obama’s address could have been cribbed from a Bush speech on Iraq from five years ago, such as “We must never lose sight of what’s at stake. As we speak, al Qaeda continues to plot against us,” and (16) Obama wasn’t honorable or honest enough to give Bush credit for the surge, saying only that “[N]o one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security,” which is about as controversial to his antiwar base as saying, “No one could doubt President Bush’s support for his family, or his love of his wife and children.”
Robinson’s liberal fantasy proclaims, “The war was on its way toward becoming a disastrous failure until the country’s Sunni minority turned against the al-Qaeda jihadists who had flooded into Iraq to fight against the hated Americans,” then adds, as an afterthought, “and Bush’s troop surge, ably led by Gen. David Petraeus, capitalized on this shift of allegiance.” Yes, sectarian conflict facilitated conditions in which the surge could flourish; it’s also true that: (17) Bush and Petraeus were savvy enough to recognize this shift in conditions on the ground, prepare a successful strategy to take advantage of it, execute this strategy despite the histrionics of Congressional Democrats, and persist until it yielded its intended results.
Give Obama credit for this: his Iraq speech was the best speech he has ever given from the Oval Office. Of course, the only other Oval Office speech he’s given was on the BP oil spill, an address that even liberal supporters at MSNBC and The New York Times panned as amateurish and ineffective.
(Bonus fact!: The Brookings Institution’s Iraq Index reports that 79% of Iraqis believe that conditions in their country will be the same as or better in 2010 than in 2009—more than you can say for residents of the United States.)