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Obama’s Perverse ‘End of Combat in Iraq’ Party

by Keith Koffler on August 31, 2010, 12:07 pm

Today’s Obama “End of Iraq Combat Operations” festival is so teaming with error and irony that I hardly know where to begin.

But I will begin.

As you are probably aware, President Obama is marking the Aug. 31 “End of Combat” milestone with a visit to the troops at Fort Bliss, Texas – lasting no more than an hour, just long enough to snap some photos – and an Oval Office speech. We get this along with a weekly address devoted to the topic and a White House-launched web campaign to honor the troops. We’re pretty much having a party.

Let’s start with the important stuff. Obama rarely pays public attention to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and as a wartime leader, he should be doing much more of it. But not today.

The drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq should be accomplished with as little fanfare as possible. I can think of no benefit, other than political benefit for Obama as someone who kept his promise to end “combat operations” by Aug. 31, to touting this day. It is an eerie echo of another politician’s attempt to prematurely plant the flag of victory in Iraq, one who declared “Mission Accomplished” and “the end of major combat operations” and then rued it the rest of his presidency.

Here’s why this is a Big Mistake:

1. Nothing is really changing. The largest combat operations ended long ago. American forces have for a long time been engaged in counterterrorism operations, which will continue. But instead, these will now be called “stability operations.”

2. IT MAKES NO MILITARY SENSE TO ADVERTISE THAT YOU ARE LEAVING AND YOU LIKE IT. This can only encourage the enemy, who still exist in Iraq and who have recently been stepping up their own combat operations. I ask you: If in the tenth round, Boxer #1 tells Boxer #2 that he’s no longer engaged in combat, what is Boxer #2 going to do? He’s going to hit Boxer #1 really, really hard in the head.

3. Obama should indeed talk about success in Iraq. But on a regular basis, not as a one-shot deal and not to fete our departure. WE SHOULD BE PRETENDING THERE’S NO PLACE WE’D RATHER BE THAN HANGING OUT IN THE IRAQI DESERT WHEN IT’S 113 DEGREES FARENHEIT IN THE SHADE.

Obama has little to celebrate right now,  so he’s celebrating Iraq, which leads me to my second point: Obama is trumpeting success in a war he opposed that was won with a strategy – the surge – that he opposed.

The credit goes to the man he defeated and the man he replaced. I’m sure neither of them will be anywhere near Obama’s events or mentioned in his remarks.

Sen. John McCain was a lonely voice for a long time saying, at MUCH political peril to himself, that we needed to increase our military presence in Iraq. Bush kept insisting his commanders were telling him they had enough troops. I don’t know who was channeling such information to Bush, but I can only assume it was someone or some group who felt they were telling him what he wanted to hear. And they were probably right.

One day at the Bush White House, McCain and a group of senators came to visit with Bush for some reason that I forget. McCain came to the microphones on the driveway and one of the things he mentioned was that we needed more troops in Iraq. Then, the other senators left, and I noticed that McCain went back into the West Wing. He met personally with Bush.

Not long afterward, Bush declared that he was sending more of our young men and women into Iraq.

Here’s one of Obama’s comments from the period:

I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is gonna solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.

The other unfortunate irony is that Obama, as a fierce opponent of the war, must think the U.S. soldiers who gave their lives there did so in vain. It’s a legitimate, if incorrect, point of view.

I ask you this simple question. With Iran, Iraq’s arch enemy, close to developing its first nuclear weapon, Saddam Hussein, were he still in power, today would be doing what? Let’s make it multiple choice.

1. Sitting on his ass.

2. Developing his own nuclear weapons, as he had before.

You tell me the answer.

Obama needs to thank both Bush and McCain today. But he won’t, because this is a political exercise, and they are with the political opposition.

UPDATE: Obama did call Bush today and had a private conversation with him. It was the right thing to do.

Leave a Comment

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

srdem65 August 31, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Must he be in the campaign mode for every Presidential action? We need him to act “Presidential” and not partisan.
There will be no “end” to our involvement in Iraq; the fighting continues, there is no viable government, the infrastructure is a disaster and the threats of Iran are so tangible you can almost see it. Our hope for a democracy in a nation made up of competing tribes and religious sects was not realistic.
When a nation condones murder over the differing interpretation of the same Holy Book there will never be peace.
O is treading on very thin ice and his words will be dissected, parsed and misinterpreted. His most astute response to this withdrawal is to say nothing.

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Star August 31, 2010 at 12:53 pm

I was for Afghanistan because I did not understand at first that the “enemy” lived there (Taliban) and could not be defeated, and the foreigners and Saudis who set up camp had more than 100 other countries where they could do that. As for Iraq–I am sick when I think of the waste of our precious young people. Would Sadam have built a bomb? Theoretical. The dead people are real.As for “The Boy” taking credit for whatever he thinks was accomplished in Iraq, well, it’s typical. It will come back to bite him big time.

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Granny Jan August 31, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I don’t follow military matters as a rule but this was as clear and accurate a summary as I have ever read.

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DaSicilian August 31, 2010 at 1:15 pm

While I rarely agree w/putting boots on the ground w/out leveling whatever needs to be leveled first…in the case of Iraq…it may have been a wise decision. We have seen gains in the political infrastructure – albeit a weak showing – but, did any of us thought that there would be a chance of having elections in this country? I certainly didn’t. The Iraqis do have a long way to go and with the centuries old sunni/shia imbroglio may never get there, however, I still have that purple finger etched into my head – perhaps it is just possible.

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DaSicilian August 31, 2010 at 1:17 pm

ps…in keeping w/the article…Obama is a dolt….have a nice day :>)

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Tom August 31, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Keith hit all the salient points here; I agree with GJ that it was an excellent summation of today’s events:

ITEM: If there is an architect for victory in Iraq, it is not Mr. Bush, the JCS or the Generals (who tell JCS and Bush what they want to hear) but the RINO, Sen. McCain. It was McCain’s insistence for the surge that pushed the militias back and secured a somewhat tenuous, albeit “quiet” (pyrric?) victory. Keith good point here: ” … at much political peril.” The country-club Republicans were against the surge (because they lack a central spine) and McCain went out on a limb.

ITEM: “I was against the surge before I was for the surge”. Obama is now taking credit (as liberals tend to do) as it befits their juvenile, its-mine, its-mine mentality when things on the ground turn out positive. Keith I really liked : ” … it’s a legitimate, if incorrect, point of view.” Very true.

ITEM: Mr. Obama should have thanked both Mr. Bush and McCain today, *openly*, in front of the troops, in front of the news camera’s — everyone — but he didn’t. Mr. Obama’s hatred of the military renders any sense of basic human dignity and respect moot especially when thanking conservatives, who, strategically at least, called the shots that brought us to today.

I personally still remain skeptical of the whole Iraq-Afghanistan “thing.”

I have been a military historian for the better part of 25 years (“If you can’t fight it, lecture about it”) and my gut tells me both Talibani and Karzai will be hanging from a tree somewhere outside there respective capitals in 2 years time. Radical Islam is an exercise in purging anything “unclean” from the nation. Both men are unclean due to their association with the Western devil. I’m not prescient, but I think once we leave (at least our combat arms units) from FLOT front/rear areas … the militia’s will pour from the desert in a Maddhaist revolt and walk over the Green Zone. You will see Gaza II, when Hamas pulled Fatah members out of the government offices and executed them in the streets.

Post script, Iraq: I was the supermarket last night and I ran into an Iraq War vet on the milk aisle. He had no left leg and no right arm and a large scar that ran from his right eye down to his throat. He was using a cane. I walked right up, shook his hand and said thank you. This young man was about 22 or 23. He said, and I quote: “Hey man, no problem. Just did my duty. Thats all. No biggee.”

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DaSicilian August 31, 2010 at 2:23 pm

@Tom….there in lies the greatness in our troops….

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Tom August 31, 2010 at 2:30 pm

To Keith: I just read the title through. Wow. “Perverse.” EXCELLENT. That aptly describes this President’s treatment of those who fight and die for our country.

To DaSicilian: Roger that, sir. I continue to be amazed at these young men and women I meet when I run to the store or go to the bank. They are my heroes.

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Star August 31, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Mine, too–heroes, that is. After reading a lot on this today, I think it will be one of their rebranding deals–Iraq Lite or something. Phase Two. The Penultimate Chapter. We will still have many troops there, many bases (the ones we wanted in the Middle East from the jump), skirmishes, semi-cooperation with the govt, skepticism, doubt, deaths, injuries, kabooms, casualties. All this BS gives me a headache. We deserved better than Bush and we deserve better than this!

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Tom August 31, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Star,

Good point: Tonight’s speech *may* be a complete re-branding of the war, palatable for liberals to clink their martini glasses and feel warm and fuzzy. Makes me billious thinking about it. [ I would rather see GJ's lobster video again for a good laugh ].

***
Tom

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