Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Obama and the Surge in Iraq

Prior to the Surge, in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on November 20, 2006, Obama said the following:

Then, Obama told us "the Surge has not worked" on July 20, 2007, and at many other campaign stops. The next month, there were 80 U.S. service deaths overall in Iraq, 69 of them by my count from combat or IEDs.

Fast-forward to this year, when the evidence has been mounting that not only has the Surge in troops and the accompanying change in strategy has reduced U.S. military casualties but also reduced Iraqi civilian casualties, and Obama tells Katie Couric in Amman, Jordan on July 22, 2008 that he still would have opposed the Surge:

Given how laughable this stance became by August 2008, Obama and the Democrats had to resort to their new rallying cry: there's not enough political reconciliation in Iraq! We should still leave!

Somehow, they missed the news that Iraq's largest Sunni political party rejoined the Iraqi government in July 2008, after a year's boycott.

Or, they missed the following news in September 2008:
Now that Iraq's parliament passed a provincial elections law Wednesday, overcoming months of political gridlock, many politicians and Iraqis are looking ahead to what the elections early next year will mean for Iraq
Oh, and here's the death toll for that very month, September 2008, as compared to the year before:
The number of civilians killed in Iraq last month more than halved to 359 compared to a year ago, Iraqi government figures showed, and the number of U.S. troops killed in action also fell dramatically.

U.S. combat deaths fell to eight in September, down from 12 last month and vastly reduced from 43 in September last year, statistics from independent Web site showed.

Violence in Iraq has fallen to around four-year lows in recent months, but militants have still been capable of large-scale attacks.

A string of bombings last month targeted civilians shopping before their evening meal during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, and in Iraq's north, where the U.S. military says al Qaeda is active, violent attacks are carried out almost daily.

But September's toll of 359 civilian deaths was still lower than August's 382. Some 884 Iraqi civilians were killed in September last year.
So, U.S. combat fatalities have fallen to 8 in September 2008 vs. 69 in September 2007. Iraqi civilian casualties have fallen to 359 as compared to 884 in September 2007. Political reconciliation is proceeding apace, now that Sunni and Shi'it politicians are not constantly worried that extremists will slaughter them if they make a compromise with the other camps in Iraq. And still the Democratic candidate for President says his course of opposing the Surge was the right one!

I will yield to none in my contempt for Bush's criminally incompetent management of the war from March 2003 through January 2007. But by finally jettisoning Rumsfeld and putting General Petraeus in charge of a Surge in troops and a change in strategy, Bush has managed to show he can, however belatedly, come to grips with reality.

That is more than the Democrats, or Senator Obama in particular, can say.

Updated 10/3/2008: Yahoo News:
Baghdad - Iraq's presidential council on Friday ratified a law that paves the way for the first provincial elections in four years, officials said.

U.S. officials hope the election will give greater representation to minority Sunni Arabs and disaffected members of the Shiite majority.
This exemplifies the difference between McCain's approach and Obama's -- Obama has pledged repeatedly over the last two years to "end the war" and leave, no matter what, even if genocide results.

McCain also proposed ending the war in Iraq, but only by defeating our extremist enemies first! McCain's preference is increasingly validated by the fact that, with violence declining, the critically necessary political reconciliation between Iraqi factions is happening.

Of course, since things are going well in Iraq these days, expect it to fall all the more rapidly off the front pages. That's a shame, because what we're seeing is nothing less than the dual defeat of Sunni (Al Qaeda) and Shi'ite (Mahdi Army) extremists, with huge repercussions for the entire region. The Ayatollahs of Iran and the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia might be distressed, but this development is to the great benefit of ordinary Iraqis.

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