There is no reason to believe that more of the same will achieve these objectives in Iraq. And, while some have proposed escalating this war by adding thousands of more troops, there is little reason to believe that this will achieve these results either. It’s not clear that these troop levels are sustainable for a significant period of time, and according to our commanders on the ground, adding American forces will only relieve the Iraqis from doing more on their own. Moreover, without a coherent strategy or better cooperation from the Iraqis, we would only be putting more of our soldiers in the crossfire of a civil war.
Sen. Barack Obama, to the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs
November 20, 2006
We cannot impose a military solution on what has effectively become a civil war. And until we acknowledge that reality — we can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops, I don’t know any expert on the region or any military officer that I’ve spoken to privately that believes that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground.
Sen. Barack Obama, on Face The Nation
January 14, 2007
I know that there’s that little snippet that you ran,” referring to the MSNBC clip, “but there were also statements made during the course of this debate in which I said there’s no doubt that additional U.S. troops could temporarily quell the violence. But unless we saw an underlying change in the politics of the country, unless Sunni, Shia, Kurd made different decisions, then we were going to have a civil war and we could not stop a civil war simply with more troops.”
Sen. Barack Obama, to Tom Brokaw on Meet The Press
July 27, 2008.
Sen. Barack Obama did not like the Iraqi “surge.” His comments to the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs on November 20, 2006 showed that. Statements made on the campaign trail in 2007 and 2008 showed that. Actions taken to purge his own presidential Web site of derogatory remarks toward the strategy showed that. And while, in September of 2008, he admitted to Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly that the troop surge had succeeded in facilitating progress in Iraq, he patently refused to admit that it succeeded by design.
Indeed, all throughout, Barack Obama vehemently and unmistakably opposed the strategy proposed and eventually implemented by Gen. David Petraeus between the Tigris and Euphrates and beyond.
Today, however, President Barack Obama tapped Gen. Petraeus as a replacement for Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the hard-nosed former Special Forces commander hand-picked by his own administration to succeed the leadership holdovers in Afghanistan from the Bush administration. In the Rose Garden this afternoon, Barack Obama showered Petraeus with praise, expressed optimism in his strategy, and stated that we have an obligation to come together.
Politics, he said, has the unfortunate habit of fueling conflict.
Well, in the interest of dousing the flames of that conflict, and in the hopes that we can truly “come together” as Obama deems us so obligated, perhaps the president should expressly state what he has implied from his actions. Perhaps he should finally give credit where credit is due. Rather than continuing to lay blame at the feet of his predecessor for the ongoing inherited operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, perhaps the time has come for this president to acknowledge the progress made. After all, if Gen. David Petraeus truly has Barack Obama’s “full confidence,” it is because of the success of the general and the general’s counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq.
Don’t count on it. To be honest, in the opinion of yours truly, who stuck his head up and out of the law books long enough to read the Rolling Stone piece which brought about the shift in leadership in the Afghan theater, Barack Obama should never have been in this place to begin with. Yes, the doctrine of respondeat superior may dictate that insubordination applies regardless of whether the disparaging comments seen in the Rolling Stone piece were made by McChrystal himself or by those in his inner circle, if the decision to accept McChrystal’s resignation truly did not come from “some great insult,” as the president insisted, so long as the strategy and policy was to remain the same, perhaps the leadership should have as well.
McChrystal, despite obscenely stupid and patently dangerous rules of engagement which have been watered down by the chain of command in the United States military, strikes me as someone who desperately wanted to win this war. Our president, who goes out of his way to avoid using words like “win” and “victory,” strikes me as just the opposite. And if we’re going to be tied down in Afghanistan, I’d rather the operation be led by someone who yearns for victory and is not afraid to shake things up in order to make it happen.
Of course, if McChrystal is to be replaced by anyone, Gen. David Petraeus certainly seems like a good option. Nevertheless, politically and otherwise, in my opinion the best move for this beleaguered president would have been to acknowledge McChrystal’s offer to resign and subsequently refuse it. In fact, I’m surprised it didn’t happen this way. You’d think that an administration so engaged in and obsessed with image and outward perception would relish in the opportunity for a chronically indecisive president to look anything but, for a president who recently took heat for actively searching for “an ass to kick” with regard to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to instead appear as though he’s willing to overlook personal animus in order to get the job done.
Instead, this White House once again engaged in the same sort of knee-jerk reaction which could cause hundreds of thousands of people in the Gulf to lose their jobs during a six month moratorium on deep-water drilling. This time, however, because of the towering bastion of credibility that is Gen. David Petraeus, the knee-jerk reaction may just succeed in the long run after all.
Sort of like the Bush administration in Iraq. But don’t expect the president to say so.