Does it bother anyone besides me that the Democratic presidential candidates can’t even mention the success of the “surge” in Iraq?
As Fred Barnes points out in his article in the weekly standard, They Can’t Handle The Truth, even our anti-war biased media has headlined evidence that General Petraeus’ strategy (the addition of more American troops and tasking them with the protection the civilian population) has dramatically reduced the level of violence in Baghdad and other regions of Iraq.
Are they really that uninformed? Or, are they simply being dishonest? Either situation would not bode well for this country if one of them were elected president.
During the New Hampshire primary, Barack Obama did state that the decision by Sunnis in Iraq to embrace American forces was simply a direct response to the Democratic Party’s capture of power in Congress during the 2006 election. And as Fred Barnes writes, looking at the facts, there is no evidence for his claim. The Sunnis had, in fact, begun to turn against al Qaeda before the 2006 election.
Bill Richardson seems to have been on another planet for the last year or so. Terming Iraq “a massive failure,” he voiced a number of inaccurate claims.
He stated there had been no reconciliation, that there had been no sharing of oil revenues, that the Iraq government had made no effort to train additional security forces, and that there could only be a political solution to Iraq and not a military solution. In actuality, both solutions are needed.
Bill Richardson was wrong on all four counts.
John Edwards also provided an explanation that strains the limits of credibility saying that the withdrawal of British troops from southern Iraq has caused “a significant reduction in violence.”
Hillary Clinton basically just reaffirmed what she said during a Senate hearing; that she had to “suspend disbelief” to accept that the surge was working. Hillary went on, stating that the purpose behind the surge was to create time for political reconciliation and for the Iraqi government to deal with the many unresolved problems that confront it. She stated that no Iraqi government action, it’s time to bring our troops home as quickly and responsibly as possible.
I agree with Fred Barnes. As much as I hate to admit it, at least Hillary Clinton was partially correct. One of the goals of the surge was to create an environment of political reconciliation and let environment lead to the completion of the other benchmarks set by the U.S. for the Iraqi government.
And yes, I realize that these steps have been slow in coming, but they are coming. Nine of the eighteen benchmark goals set by the U.S. for the Iraqi government have indeed been met. And, that was simply one of the goals and not the only goal, as Hillary Clinton wants to suggest.
Another, second goal, was to reduce the violence, secure Baghdad, and to protect its citizens. That goal has been achieved.
A third goal is to defeat al Qaeda in Iraq.
How are the democratic candidates going to reconcile this position to that of the many Democrats who have recently traveled to Iraq and concluded the surge is succeeding?
I realize that the Democratic candidates will certainly not abandon their anti-war rhetoric regarding Iraq. That would alienate too large a block of antiwar voters.
However, they could have at least acknowledged the fact that the surge seems to be working and that if the Iraqi government does what it should, there might be a need to look at a change in their policy.
Then, as suggested in the article, they could certainly have eased right back into their anti-war rhetoric by saying that Iraqi leaders must now move quickly because Americans are still dying in Iraq, and at the moment, there is no reason to expect any real political progress by the Iraqi government. Therefore, the only policy that makes sense is to begin the withdrawal of troops.
At least, as Fred Barnes says, that would have been honest!