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Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Obama: ‘I Had No Doubt... We Would See a Reduction in Violence’ With Surge



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The two most glaring contradictions in Obama’s statements on the surge are bolded.

Rush noted Obama’s position in January 2007:

OBAMA: We cannot impose a military solution on what has effectively become a civil war. And until we acknowledge that reality, uh, we can send 15,000 more troops; 20,000 more troops; 30,000 more troops. Uh, I don’t know any, uh, expert on the region or any military officer that I’ve spoken to, uh, privately that believes that that is gonna make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground.

Dan Riehl notes Obama’s position in July 2007:

“Here’s what we know. The surge has not worked. And they said today, ‘Well, even in September, we’re going to need more time.’ So we’re going to kick this can all the way down to the next president, under the president’s plan.”

A Democratic debate in September 13, 2007:

After putting an additional 30,000 troops in, far longer & more troops than the president had initially said, we have gone from a horrendous situation of violence in Iraq to the same intolerable levels of violence that we had back in June of 2006. So, essentially, after all this we’re back where we were 15 months ago. And what has not happened is any movement with respect to the sort of political accommodations among the various factions, the Shia, the Sunni, and Kurds that were the rationale for surge and that ultimately is going to be what stabilizes Iraq. So, I think it is fair to say that the president has simply tried to gain another six months to continue on the same course that he’s been on for several years now. It is a course that will not succeed. It is a course that is exacting an enormous toll on the American people & our troops.

Democratic debate, January 5, 2008:

I had no doubt, and I said 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.

The reaction to this year’s State of the Union address:

When Bush proclaimed, “Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working, but among terrorists there is no doubt,” Clinton sprang to her feet in applause but Obama remained firmly seated.

Obama’s released statement that evening: “Tonight Pres. Bush said that the surge in Iraq is working, when we know that’s just not true. Yes, our valiant soldiers have helped reduce the violence. But let there be no doubt–the Iraqi government has failed to seize the moment to reach compromises necessary for an enduring peace. That was what we were told the surge was all about. So the only way we’re finally going to pressure the Iraqis to reconcile and take responsibility for their future is to immediately begin a responsible withdrawal.”

The recently-scrubbed portion of Obama’s web site: “The surge is not working.” Greg has the whole sections that were deleted.

UPDATE: Even more, from the Powerline guys:

January 10, 2007, on MSNBC:

I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.

On May 25, 2007, in a speech to the Coalition Of Black Trade Unionists Convention, Obama said:

And what I know is that what our troops deserve is not just rhetoric, they deserve a new plan. Governor Romney and Senator McCain clearly believe that the course that we’re on in Iraq is working, I do not.

On July 18, 2007, on the Today show, he said:

My assessment is that the surge has not worked and we will not see a different report eight weeks from now.

On November 11, 2007, two months after General David Petraeus told Congress that the surge was working, Obama doubled down, saying that the administration’s new strategy was making the situation in Iraq worse:

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 never know what the future holds, and those who supported the invasion of Iraq made their own erroneous predictions — about WMDs, etc. But it’s less forgivable to deny progress as it’s occurring right in front of you. That suggests the candidate is wedded to ideology and oblivious to the consequences of policy changes. And a candidate who has the… well, audacity to claim that he always said the surge would result in an “improvement in the security situation and a reduction of violence” when he said the opposite many times thinks that A) voters are gullible and B) the media have the attention span of an over-caffeinated ferret.


Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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