Politics & Policy

Trust We Can Believe In

Obama promises hope, but can he learn to have faith in our generals, commanders, and soldiers on the ground in Iraq?

While serving as an Army infantry platoon leader in Iraq, it was my duty to earn the trust of my men — but also to learn to trust my men. Senator Obama, evidently, has not yet discovered that a commander-in-chief has a similar dual obligation. In a recent Army Times interview, he said he had to “earn the trust of the men and women of the military,” but he has yet to show that he trusts the judgment and first-hand knowledge of the generals, commanders, and soldiers on the ground. If anything, he’s gone out of his way to refute what those in the know say. If he wants his fast-approaching trip to the Middle East to be effective, this will need to change.


Commanders and troops, including our top commander, Gen. David Petraeus, have long been reporting that the surge is working, that we must protect and expand on our fragile-yet-reversible gains, and that Iraq is the central front in the War on Terror. And yet how many times has the junior Senator from Illinois called Iraq a “failed mission” or a “civil war”? He claims Iraq “is or never was” the central War on Terror front.


He’s also told us that “we are less safe and less secure” because of our presence in Iraq. To the contrary, we have not been attacked since 9/11. There will be a stable and freely elected government in the heart of the Middle East who are allies in the Global War on Terror. These facts can no longer be denied — it is inarguable that we are safer and more secure for liberating Iraq. With over 300 people advising Obama on foreign policy and national security issues, one would think that he’d have gotten the word already.


But we shouldn’t be surprised — after all, this is an election year. It is easy, almost trendy, to make these statements. But the American people are far from ignorant, and they want to bring our troops home with a win under their belts. We all have seen the tremendous success of the surge and know that a strategic victory is close at hand. Americans also realize that we must stay on offense against terror.


Unfortunately, the former “community organizer” has adopted the reckless national-security advice of George Soros and Moveon.org in order to win his party’s nomination. Senator Obama continually speaks about the lack of judgment of those supporting victory in Iraq, yet he’s continually demonstrated his lack of judgment on the most obvious — denouncing the surge not a month after it started, insisting on timelines for withdrawal before meeting with commanders on the ground, announcing a willingness to meet with dictators and despots unconditionally.


Senator Obama deserves applause for embarking on a first trip to Afghanistan and a long-overdue trip to Iraq, but it is this soldier’s hope for the senator to put politics aside and see for himself the undeniable progress that General Petraeus’ new counter-insurgency strategy has yielded.


Senator Obama should sit down one-on-one with our battle-hardened field commanders; men like generals Petraeus and Odierno, and ask them for advice. If he does so, he will be confronted with a stark choice, perhaps the most pivotal of his career: siding with our commanders on the ground, or continuing to side with George Soros and Moveon.org.

 – Captain Joel Arends served with the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq and is currently the executive director of Vets for Freedom.


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