by Peter Wehner - April Issue - Commentary Magazine
In May 2007, Obama did something he had never done previously: he voted in the Senate against funding for combat operations, claiming as a reason the fact that the bill included no timeline for troop withdrawal. As the campaign season intensified, his position hardened still more. In September, a mere three months after the final elements of the 30,000-strong surge forces had landed in Iraq, he declared that the moment had arrived to remove all of our combat troops “immediately.” “Not in six months or one year—now.”There is little logic in Obama's pacifist repudiation of the war against radical Islam. Note his actually lying about the timing of Anbar rejection of Al-Qaeda. The reality is Obama is a pacifist and his positions are distorted by this failed appeasement oriented philosophy. Any support for any war will be waffling and unenthusiastic because he is a pacifist. Anyone who supports Obama for President is abbrogating the belief that we have the right to wage offensive war in defense of our nation. Obama cannot be trusted as our Commander In Chief. His judgement has repeatedly proved seriously defective.
By then, though, a fairly substantial drop in violence was already discernible in Iraq. Without exactly denying this fact, Obama insisted that it had nothing to do with the surge, a point he repeated incessantly during the early months of 2008. In a presidential debate in January, for example, he claimed the reduction in violence was due not to increased American military action but to the attention paid by Iraqi insurgents and al-Qaeda terrorists to the results of America’s midterm elections in November 2006, when control of Congress passed to the Democrats:
"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 Shiites. We should start negotiating now."
This was an astonishing statement on several counts. For one thing, the “Anbar Awakening”—in which Sunni tribes formerly allied with al Qaeda in Iraq turned on the foreign terrorists who had been making their lives a repressive hell—preceded the midterm election by several months. It had no connection with American electoral cycles and every connection with the brutality of al Qaeda (as internal al-Qaeda communications frankly conceded). For another thing, the prospect of a precipitous American retreat, far from helping along the chances of a negotiated political settlement between warring Iraqi factions, would almost certainly have created the opposite effect, reinvigorating the murderous hopes of the terrorist forces lately on the run and thereby undoing the Awakening altogether. Nor, incidentally, have those forces ever troubled themselves to discriminate between Sunni and Shiite in their frenzied determination to seize control. Finally, the sheikhs of Anbar have themselves testified to the crucially fortifying effect of the U.S. offensive against al Qaeda in Iraq, and there is no reason to doubt their word.
Obama’s corkscrew logic would take an even more bizarre twist in February of this year when Tim Russert of NBC News asked him if, as President, he would reserve the right to go back into Iraq with sizable forces if the American withdrawal he advocated should end by introducing even greater mayhem. Previously Obama had asserted categorically that, on his watch, no permanent American bases would be left in Iraq and that the few American troops remaining there would have only a very limited mission: to protect our embassy and our diplomatic corps and to engage in counterterrorism. But in his answer to Russert he now broadened his options:
"As commander-in-chief, I will always reserve the right to make sure that we are looking out for American interests. And if al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad."
To wonted illogic this added both ignorance and disingenuousness. By his statement Obama may have intended to project a certain tough-mindedness in dealing with new threats, but as Senator John McCain pointed out in a devastating riposte, al Qaeda is already in Iraq. That is why its forces there are called “al Qaeda in Iraq” (or, to use the terrorist organization’s own nomenclature, “al Qaeda in Meso-potamia”). What is more, if Obama had had his way in 2007, our troops would have been out of Iraq by March of this year, leaving it naked to its enemies. If we were to withdraw them in the early months of an Obama presidency, al Qaeda in Iraq could be counted on not only to form “a base” but to take over large swaths of the country. Having overseen such a withdrawal, and having thereby unraveled all the gains of the surge, Obama would face the prospect of ordering them to return under far more treacherous conditions of his own making.