A reader writes:
You have raised the point that McCain was right about the surge and Obama was wrong. I do not totally disagree, but I believe the situation is far more nuanced than your post suggests. The question is, what was the surge going to accomplish militarily? To the extent it was viewed solely as bringing stability to Iraq, then I believe your conclusion is correct. But to the extent it was viewed as helping to win the war against terrorism, then I think your conclusion is largely incorrect. The surge has been successful in helping to control a civil war we precipitated by our intervention into Iraq and prosecution of the war. But as many predicted at the time of the surge, the terrorists simply took their efforts elsewhere. Note recent events in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iraq has never been ground zero in the war on terrorism, and terrorism was never the principal source of the carnage which ensued after our invasion. The distinction is absolutely critical if we are to understand the plot of the story of Iraq. In five and one half years, there are now signs that we may have finally subdued a country which posed no threat to us, and harbored few if any terrorists. By any of the rationales used to launch the war in Iraq, we have hardly won anything.
But then, the real rationales were never stated honestly.
Oil and military bases were always the objectives. The rest was just one big lie, a lie which has cost over 4000 American lives and probably more than 200,000 Iraqi lives. The real story of the Obama equivocation is that as he approaches the Presidency he may well be willing to abet the lies which he initially understood by his opposition to the war. The harsh reality of the war in Iraq is that controlling the oil supplies and having bases in the Middle East may well be to our long term strategic interest, notwithstanding the moral turpitude of those who launched war on false pretences. As Obama has the advantage of the moral high ground given his initial opposition to the war, he now faces the difficult task of dealing with the loot we gained by our pillage of that country. I doubt that he will simply give it back. He will draw down forces faster than McCain as you point out because his rhetoric and our economy will practically demand as much. And he will do it in a way that puts pressure on the Iraqi government so that he has a fall guy if everything collapses. But no one should expect that he will give up the advantages gained by the surge he opposed. Morality is easily tarnished in the secular world of politics, and Obama has far better cover to get the job done in Iraq than his opponent. I can think of no greater act of justice than Obama ultimately getting the credit for a wise, even-handed wind down of an immoral war in Iraq in a way that secures the very advantages that Bush and McCain sought from the beginning. Divine justice I would say.