Barack Obama continues his overseas trip today in the Middle East, where the facts on the ground have recently been moving so fast hardly anyone in the U.S. has really kept up. But unheralded press reports in recent weeks establish this new reality.
The war in Iraq is over. America and her allies won. Sorry, Barack, but it is too late for you and your misguided, uninformed, anti-American netroots to surrender.
The surge that Obama opposed and said would fail has succeeded spectacularly. McCain was right about that from the beginning.
General Petraeus, leading American and Iraqi troops, has smashed al-Qaeda, which has now basically withdrawn and fled to remote hideouts in lawless, ungoverned, western Pakistan. The Sunni Awakening is now over a year old and has been widely reported. The Shia majority government of elected Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has moved brilliantly in recent months to rout the Shia militias as well, creating a broad, popular base of support for him. The Kurds continue to prosper in peace and harmony.
American troops are already coming home. As McCain reported weeks ago, the surge itself is now basically over, with the additional troops all now on their way out. This fall, more American troops will be coming home. By January, still more will have returned.
The only real question now is which U.S. forces will be stationed in long term bases in Iraq. American and Iraqi government officials are even now negotiating a permanent status of forces agreement to take effect next year that will resolve that question. The plan is for Iraqi forces to take over responsibility for all remaining Iraqi provinces by then, with American troops out of all Iraqi cities. Probably less than half of the full complement of American forces will remain in Iraq long term to back up the Iraqi military, and keep tabs on Iran.
One big remaining fly in the ointment is that Iraq continues to be under attack by Iranian special forces — which may attempt intensified attacks this fall. Iran remains unfinished business. But the brutal defeat that al Qaeda suffered in Iraq discredited it in the Arab world. As Osama bin Laden himself has said, people will follow the strong horse. It is America, not al Qaeda, that is now that strong horse. On Saturday, New York Post columnist Ralph Peters reported,
A terrorist organization that less than a decade ago had global appeal and reach has been discredited in the eyes of most of the world’s billion-plus Muslims. No one of consequence in the Arab world sees Al-Qaeda as a winner anymore. Even fundamentalist clerics denounce it. For all of our missteps, Iraq’s been worth it.
Peters also reported,
Things are getting worse in Afghanistan and Pakistan not because our attention was elsewhere, but because Al Qaeda has been driven from the Arab world, with nowhere else to go….Unwelcome even in Sudan or Syria, the Islamist fanatics have retreated to remote mountain villages and compounds on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border.
Imagine if it were American forces fleeing Iraq in retreat, as the American Left has long urged. Al Qaeda and Iran would be surging into their new playground in Iraq, with new terrorist recruits from all over the Muslim world surging into the triumphant al Qaeda that defeated the American superpower.
Last week, Obama gave a signature foreign-policy speech, “A New Strategy for a New World,” which shows that he is hopelessly out of touch with the new realities in Iraq and the Middle East.
Obama said, “I strongly stand by my plan to end this war.” Wake up, Barack, its over. We no longer need a “plan to end this war.” Obama said, “To achieve that success, I will give our military a new mission on my first day in office: ending this war.” The U.S. military has already developed, implemented, and succeeded with their plan to end this war. What would they send you next year, press clippings from this year?
Obama reiterated his commitment to remove American combat brigades within 16 months of taking office. But under current plans, there will be no American troops fighting in Iraq 16 months into the next presidential term.
Even Obama said, “After this redeployment, we will keep a residual force to perform specific missions in Iraq: targeting any remnants of Al Qaeda; protecting our service members and diplomats; and training and supporting Iraq’s Security forces.” The only argument now is over the size of this residual force and what type of long term base we will have in Iraq. While Obama wants “no permanent bases in Iraq,” McCain wisely wants to maintain a significant long-term force to keep the peace, and the gains we have won at the cost of so much blood and treasure, just as we have done in Japan, South Korea, and Europe. Indeed, given that the Middle East is the only region that has actually mounted an attack against the U.S. mainland since 1812, the long term U.S. military bases in Bosnia should just be moved to Iraq.
Obama went on in his speech to say, “It is unacceptable that almost seven years after nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on our soil, the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 are still at large.” Actually, the trials of “the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11” start this week at Guantanamo, beginning with the prosecution of Osama bin Laden confidant Salim Hamdan, with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on deck, along with up to 80 others. Those trials have been delayed for years by the ACLU and liberal lawyers from top law firms who want to defend “the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11” and win their release.
Obama continued, “As President, I will make the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be.” Obama and his 300 foreign policy advisors apparently do not know that al Qaeda has just suffered a humiliating, disastrous defeat at the hands of U.S. forces in Iraq. And they have apparently forgotten somehow that Bush routed al Qaeda and the Taliban from Afghanistan just months after 9/11, over the opposition of many of his current supporters.
Indeed, I wonder what those “give surrender a chance” netroots have to say now that Obama has called in this speech for deploying additional combat forces to Afghanistan, saying that “We need more troops [at least two additional combat brigades], more helicopters, more satellites, more Predator drones in the Afghan border region.”
Obama also said,
The greatest threat to that security lies in the tribal regions of Pakistan, where terrorists train and insurgents strike into Afghanistan. We cannot tolerate a terrorist sanctuary, and as President, I won’t. We need a stronger and sustained partnership between Afghanistan, Pakistan and NATO to secure the border, to take out terrorist camps, and to crack down on cross-border insurgents….And we must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high level terrorist targets like bin Laden if we have them in our sights.
Ostensibly proposing something new and interesting, Obama actually merely reiterates what has been the Bush plan since al-Qaeda has been routed to the remote Pakistani mountain wilderness. This from the candidate of change.
Finally, on Iran, which poses a nuclear threat against Israel and the United States as well as our European allies, Obama is once again dovish. Here he supposes that he has the unique, original idea of “talking to our enemies” in Iran. Every American president has talked to and negotiated with Iran going back to Jimmy Carter trying to win release of the diplomatic hostages; such “talking to our enemies” now goes back almost 30 years, with no success.
For years now, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China, with the participation and cooperation of the United States, have been conducting talks with Iran seeking an end to its nuclear weapons program. While Obama was preening last spring over his hot new idea of “talking to our enemies,” the press was reporting on the discussions Secretary of State Condolezza Rice was having with these negotiation partners over the package of incentive buyouts to be offered to Iran to drop its nuclear program. So far, Iran has bluntly responded by saying it will not stop that program under any conditions including war, let alone “sanctions” and “diplomatic isolation.” It wants the nuclear weapons, period, and has already announced its intention to go to nuclear war with Israel at a minimum, if not the United States as well.
The problem was illustrated when Obama, after one of his spring primary victories, declared, “We need to talk to our enemies, the way Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy did.” Obama would do well to consider carefully Roosevelt’s talks with our enemies: Japanese diplomats were in Washington for negotiations to resolve our differences peacefully on the very day that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
The real danger is that likewise the very day that Iranian and American diplomats are in Geneva to continue the endless talks, or even to celebrate sham “agreements,” the nuclear bombs will start to go off. Many people will then need to be held accountable for their moral foolishness.
– Peter Ferrara served in the Reagan White House Office of Policy Development. He currently works for the American Civil Rights Union and the Institute for Policy Innovation.