Obama spins the Surge
The most ludicrous moment of last night’s Democratic debate (and there were many of them) took place when all 4 of the candidates went out of their way to deny the surge had done any good, or if it had, to claim it was because of the Democrats. Barack Obama, who explained his version of why the “awakening”, aka bottom-up reconciliation, took place, was perhaps the most obvious:
What we have to do is to begin a phased redeployment to send a clear signal to the Iraqi government that we are not going to be there in perpetuity. Now, it will — we should be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. I welcome the genuine reductions of violence that have taken place, although I would point out that much of that violence has been reduced because there was an agreement with tribes in Anbar province — Sunni tribes — who started to see, after the Democrats were elected in 2006, you know what, the Americans may be leaving soon, and we are going to be left very vulnerable to the Shi’as. We should start negotiating now. That’s how you change behavior.
And that’s why I will send a clear signal to the Iraqi government. They will have ample time to get their act together, to actually pass an oil law, which has been — they’ve been talking about now for years.
That, of course, is abject nonsense, as the awakening had begun well before that was clear (review Michael Yon’s writings for proof). The reason the Sunnis chose the Americans and the strategy of alliance is because we had shown we wouldn’t quit and we were the better choice between al Qaeda and ourselves. Plus, the Sunnis had decided they’d made a mistake by refusing to participate in the electoral process and the politics of Iraq and knew that the Americans were the only ones who could guarantee their reentry.
To claim Democrats are the reason for the awakening (in reality, the Sunnis couldn’t have cared less who was running the Congress at the time or who might be running it in the future at the time of the decision) and thus the success of the surge is simply a political fairy-tale. And Obama and Bill Richardson also claimed that absolutely no progress had been made at the national government level, which Charlie Gibson, to his ever lasting credit, pointed out was not true.
I also got the impression that Democrats couldn’t wait to get off of the subject of Iraq and on to other issues. They sounded exceedingly “dated” when they talked about the need to pull out now in the face of the success now beginning to dawn in Iraq.
BTW, I liked this debate format much better than previous debates. I’d like to see it become standard for future debates as well.
First published at QandO.