A picture of what Obama said on Iraq, and when he said it

Engram nails it..

When Obama says “I’ve always said”, it’s time for a little fact-checking. On Bill O’Reilly’s comedy hour, Obama said:

“I think that the surge has succeeded…”

The thing is, he has never previously credited the strategy for the gains we’ve made since General Petraeus came on board, and it’s unclear if he gave it credit on the O’Reilly Factor. Why is it unclear? Because I can’t tell if he was talking about the increase in troops (which was only part of the strategy) or the strategy on the whole. Prior to the show, Obama said the improvements were because of the Sunnis in Anbar, al Sadr crumbing, and the skills of our fighting men and women, but never the actual strategy that enabled the Sunnis to stand up to al Qaeda, or helped cause al Sadr’s militias to crumble. Nor has he lauded the actual strategy that our troops actually employed to improve the situation. Obama’s “plan”, if you can call it that, was (and is) to get our troops out of Dodge. Nothing else.

What did McCain say in early 2007? This:

“I am not guaranteeing that this succeeds,” said Mr. McCain, who has long argued that additional troops were needed. “I am just saying that I think it can. I believe it has a good shot.”

For me, I wasn’t sure if it had a good shot, but I believed that it merited a good shot. Actually, a last shot. The bottom line is this. McCain was right on Iraq and Obama was wrong, and Sarah Palin had the audacity of hope to point that out:

“But just last night, Senator Obama finally broke, and brought himself to admit what all the rest of us have known for quite some time, and that’s thanks to the skill and valor of our troops, the surge in Iraq has succeeded,” Palin said referring to an answer Obama gave to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly Thursday. In his first appearance on “The O’Reilly factor” Obama said that the troop surge succeeded ‘beyond our wildest dreams.’ “I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated, by the way, including President Bush and the other supporters,” he told O’Reilly.Palin took issue with Obama’s response and reminded voters that John McCain initially supported the troop surge.”I guess when you turn out to be profoundly wrong on a vital national security issue, maybe it’s comforting to pretend that everyone was wrong too. But I remember it a little differently. It seems to me there was one leader in Washington who did predict success, who refused to call retreat and risked his own career for the sake of the surge and victory in Iraq and ladies and gentlemen that man is standing right next to me. Senator John McCain,” Palin said.

I shouldn’t have to explain why this is important, but here’s one reason. Iraq is on a favorable trend line but Afghanistan is not. Barack Obama has proposed more troops for Afghanistan, and so has McCain. The difference is that Obama hasn’t said a word about the strategy those troops should actually implement when they get there, McCain has proposed a counterinsurgency strategy similar to what is working in Iraq. What’s more, our Marines in Afghanstian’s Helmand province are using the very counterinsurgency tactics in Afghanistan that they learned in Iraq, and it is indeed working. This is change I can trust.