Remembering War Lies


As a Memorial Day weekend service to the country, I thought it would be appropriate to offer a reminder of how the entire Democratic leadership, not just the President, lied and manipulated on the war in Iraq for political gain. Dems once called this politicizing the war.

Let’s rewind to March 2007, when both houses of Congress were pushing legislation that would have called for a withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq by the fall of 2008. Under the Senate plan, espoused by Obama during his campaign, all troops would have been out 14 months ago.

“Our troops are out by no later than August of 2008” under the legislation, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters. That deadline is just three months before presidential elections.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled a proposal to begin withdrawing soldiers from Iraq within four months and it sets a goal of pulling all combat troops out by March 31, 2008.

It was April of 2007, over two years ago, that Harry Reid invoked the specter of Vietnam and said the war in Iraq was lost, and in a statement later repeated by President Obama before his election, that there was no military solution to the conflict.

“I believe myself that the secretary of state, secretary of defense and – you have to make your own decisions as to what the president knows – (know) this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday,” said Reid, D-Nev.

Remarkably, those Americans who were so possessed with rage and disdain over the policies of the Bush administration that they provoked the vile political grandstanding portrayed in these statements, are largely calm over the President’s plan to keep the American presence in Iraq at 50,000 until September of 2011, and is laying the groundwork to keep it going longer – beyond the date that George W. Bush had contracted with the Iraqi government to have U.S. troops out.

So we have to begin a phased withdrawal; have our combat troops out by March 31st of next year (2008); and initiate the kind of diplomatic surge that is necessary in these surrounding regions to make sure that everybody is carrying their weight.

And that is what I will do on day one, as president of the United States, if we have not done it in the intervening months.

Today on This Week, George Stephanopoulos played  a clip of President Obama laying out the current policy. Knowing how carefully the President sculpts important policy statements so that he can change course later while arguing this is what he had always planned on doing, let’s evaluate Obama’s parsing:

“Under the status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.”

Notice how he’s not stating what his goal is – there is no clear commitment such as – “I campaigned on getting the troops out of Iraq in 16 months, and current plans call on missing that mark by about a year and a half. Trust me, I won’t allow it to go any longer than that!”

Instead, the President portrays himself as a victim of the status of forces agreement negotiated with the Iraqi government by President Bush, saying weakly that he intends to follow it. Take a look at this interchange between George S. and Adm. Mullen in reaction to the Obama clip:

STEPHANOPOULOS: That is pretty unequivocal. (Good joke, George!) Yet I was reading the proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute. They had an interview with Tom Ricks, the U.S. military historian, where he says he worries that the president is being wildly over-optimistic. He says we may be only halfway through the war. And he talks about a conversation he had with the commanding general in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, who told him he’d like to see 35,000 troops in Iraq in 2015. Is that what you expect, as well?

The best I can find Odierno on the record doing is sticking to his guns on the 2011 withdrawal date (above) while qualifying his statements with holes you could drive tanks through, and Mullen dodges today with Stephanopoulos.

MULLEN: Well, certainly the direction from the president and the status of forces agreement that we have with Iraq right now is that we will have all troops out of there by the end of 2011. And that’s what we’re planning on right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But can Iraq be safe with all U.S. troops out of Iraq in 2007 (sic)?

MULLEN: Well, we’re on a good path now. And we’ll have to see. I mean, the next 12 to 18 months are really critical there in that regard, and I think that answering that question will be much clearer given that timeframe.

Another dodge. Clearly, the President’s intention is running closer to McCain’s 100 year statement than his original goal of having the troops out in March of 2008. Odierno is quoted as saying he wants 35,000 troops in Iraq in 6 years, and Mullen won’t deny it! Instead, he lays out the framework for the President to make an argument for never having wavered on Iraq as he’s going around the country fundraising for his presidential library!

MULLEN: The other thing is, we have — this is a long-term relationship we want with Iraq, and Iraq has stated they want with the United States. And part of that is the possibility that forces could remain there longer. But that’s up to the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government to initiate discussions along those lines, and that hasn’t happened yet.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s up to the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government. It’s up to the president, of course, as well. But from a military perspective, General Odierno says that he would like to see 35,000 troops in 2015. Is that what you all believe is necessary to secure Iraq from a military perspective?

MULLEN: There’s no definitive number right now beyond the end of 2011.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it’s not zero?

Yada yada yada.

Let’s be clear with any starry-eyed liberals who might try to tell us that nothing has changed in Obama’s position on Iraq –  from a March, 2008 withdrawal plan two years ago, Obama is now setting the stage for not having the troops out by the Bush deadline  of 33 months later.

A schedule of disengagement was negotiated with the Iraqi government before Bush left office; there has been no attempt to change it.  The rate of troop withdrawal has been subject to conditions on the ground, as was the case under Bush.

The current plan is to reduce troops by 12,000 in September 2009 — a determination made by field commanders and approved by Obama.

In short, the Iraqi situation has not changed since the election.

Had Obama begun withdrawing troops at a rate of one or two brigades a month in February, then he would have ordered 20,000 to 40,000 troops out of Iraq thusfar (assuming a brigade is about 5,000 troops).

Obama sent 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan in February — more are in training to go in the near future.

Overseas troop assignments have gone up, not down, and threaten to increase further as situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan deteriorate.

Any anti-war activist from the Bush years now saying they want to give the President more time are simply frauds who don’t lament the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan at all. They just want the socialist in the White House.

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