Reality has overtaken Obama at long last:
The troop surge in Iraq has been more successful than anyone could have imagined, Barack Obama conceded Thursday in his first-ever interview on FOX News’ “The O’Reilly Factor.”
As recently as July, the Democratic presidential candidate declined to rate the surge a success, but said it had helped reduce violence in the country. On Thursday, Obama acknowledged the 2007 increase in U.S. troops has benefited the Iraqi people.
“I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated,” Obama said while refusing to retract his initial opposition to the surge. “I’ve already said it’s succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”
Here is an old post with links to the vast Obamafuscations last July when Obama struggled to pretend that (a) the surge was not successful and (b) he had always said the surge would succeed as it had. John Dickerson raised an excellent question about Obama's judgment:
If Obama was wrong about the tactical gains that would be made by the new strategy and wrong about how the Iraqi political leaders would react, can his larger theory about how Iraqis will respond to a troop pullout remain intact? Perhaps, but he has the burden of explanation.
Right - Obama will be in a big hurry to tackle that hypothetical "what if?" puzzle - how might Iraq have developed if his "surrender now" policy had been adopted in the winter of 2007? Who can tell? But the National Intelligence Estimate of Jan 2007 said this:
Coalition capabilities, including force levels, resources, and operations, remain an essential stabilizing element in Iraq. If Coalition forces were withdrawn rapidly during the term of this Estimate, we judge that this almost certainly would lead to a significant increase in the scale and scope of sectarian conflict in Iraq, intensify Sunni resistance to the Iraqi Government, and have adverse consequences for national reconciliation.
OK, so Obama opposed a surge that succeeded and advocated a policy that the NIE said at the time would lead to a disaster in Iraq. Troubling - maybe he can commiserate with a Times pundit.
As to whether anyone could have predicted that the surge would be effective - well, Bush did introduce it this way in his January 2007 speech:
Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have. Our military commanders reviewed the new Iraqi plan to ensure that it addressed these mistakes. They report that it does. They also report that this plan can work.
Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Well, here are the differences: In earlier operations, Iraqi and American forces cleared many neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents, but when our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned. This time, we'll have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared. In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter those neighborhoods -- and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.
I can believe that none of the people Obama speaks with thought the Surge could succeed. But Bush, McCain and Petraeus expected success.
PILING ON: Jeff Goldstein:
I simply must point out that this line, “I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated,” is not really a political winner I suspect, especially given that the man he’s running against believed in the surge (as did those who planned it). Had they not, the charge Obama is making here is that the military was simply throwing away American lives on a strategy that they didn’t really think would work — and that they really just kinda lucked into success.
And shorter Dale Franks: Obama would like us to believe that history is bunk. Or at least, this history.