Politics & Policy

Harry Reid’s Continued Doublespeak on Iraq

Just where does Harry Reid stand on Iraq? Good luck figuring out that one. The man who said the “war is lost” and voted to end and then defund the effort has now said the troops had a worthy goal after all. From a press release yesterday on the withdrawal of the final brigade from Iraq:

Today is an important day for the people of Iraq and for the brave men and women who have defended American interests in Iraq for the last eight years.

If our nation’s interests were at stake, why did Reid vote to defund the mission? And did not his vote to defund mean he thought the mission unworthy? Color me confused.

Matt Lewis over at Politics Daily also wrote about the disparity when he noted Reid’s recent attempt to reinvent his “war is lost” statement:

Back in April 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) famously said the Iraq War “is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday.”

Now, Sharron Angle’s team is pointing out that Reid is engaged in a bit of historical revisionism. Angle’s argument is based on what Zac Petkanas, a Reid spokesman, said this past weekend:

“Senator Reid’s comment was in agreement with General Petraeus’ assessment that the Iraq War could not be won by military force alone and that a political solution was also needed as part of a two-part strategy — which President Bush refused to pursue.”

This, of course, seems contrived.

Four months earlier, when President Bush announced the surge in a Jan. 10 address to the nation, he stressed that: “Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.”

Furthermore, Bush referred to the Iraqi government more than a dozen times, stressing that when daily life improves, “Iraqis will gain confidence in their leaders, and the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas.”

But the attempts at revisionist history do not end there. Reid is also attempting to argue that he and Petraeus were in agreement — while the bellicose Bush just didn’t “get it.” In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, Reid was not in agreement with Petraeus, nor was he inclined to believe anything he might say about the surge.

Just days after declaring “the war is lost,” Reid appeared on CNN’s “The Situation Room” and was informed that Petraeus would come to the Hill and say the surge is working.

When asked, “Will you believe him when he says that?” Reid responded, “No, I don’t believe him, because it’s not happening. All you have to do is look at the facts.”

Following is yesterday’s Reid press release on the Iraq withdrawal. Note the last paragraph and then proffer a guess in answer to the question it so obviously begs:

REID STATEMENT ON FINAL U.S. BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM LEAVING IRAQ

Washington, DC – Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement today after the final U.S. brigade combat team departed Iraq:

“Today is an important day for the people of Iraq and for the brave men and women who have defended American interests in Iraq for the last eight years.  As our last U.S. brigade combat team leaves Iraq, we salute them for the heroism, courage and dignity that they have displayed since the beginning of this conflict.  In Nevada, we lost 36 service members during the course of our involvement in Iraq, and we still grieve with their families every day.  Our troops and security forces have done everything that has been asked of them and beyond, and now is the time for the people of Iraq to take the lead in defending their young democracy.

“We know that today’s developments do not end our involvement in Iraq completely.  We still have tens of thousands of men and women on the ground that will support the Iraqi forces and we know they will continue to face serious threats on a daily basis.  We will support these troops to ensure they are able to perform their duties and remain safe. We stand united behind our forces as they continue to defend our nation bravely and defeat terrorists around the globe.

“We are ever mindful of the challenges that lie ahead to complete our mission in Afghanistan.  President Obama and his national security leadership team have put in place a plan that has already yielded some positive results in Afghanistan, and I will continue to work with the President to ensure that he has the necessary support to protect our nation and that our troops can be successful in their mission.”

So, here’s the question: 

Should Harry Reid be reelected this fall and should Obama turn out to be a one-term president, how long will it take the majority leader to call the now “positive” effort in Afghanistan “lost” and vote to defund the mission? Because it sure seems as if Reid’s support for American efforts in the Middle East is based more on whether we are winning or losing–or who is in the White House–than whether the mission has merit.

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