Much of the commentary about Barack Obama’s speech marking the end of combat operations in Iraq last night has focused on its flat tone and disjointed content. But it seems it has ignored the most dangerous lie he told last night, one that undermines our relationship with Iraq and weakens America’s standing in the world.
Obama tried to reassure the Iraqis that the United States would stand as their steadfast ally, trying to project toughness that despite his weak antiwar image, he would never cut-and-run:
[T]here should be no doubt: The Iraqi people will have a strong partner in the United States. Our combat mission is ending, but our commitment to Iraq’s future is not.
But the president doth protest too much. Just two years ago, he promised nothing would keep him from abandoning Iraq. The Associated Press reported in July 2008, “Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday…that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn’t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.” If he would not spare the Iraqis genocide, they might be forgiven for questioning whether he is really a “strong partner.”
So would any other national leader in the world. Wise presidents might even seek alliances with other, hostile nations. Luckily for Obama, his pledge has fallen through the memory hole.
For the most part, so has Obama’s stunningly bad military insight. During the (exceedingly brief) paragraph in his speech saluting the achievements of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Obama said our troops “shifted tactics to protect the Iraqi people.” The troops weren’t the only ones who shifted. Obama changed his tune about the surge President Bush launched in 2007. He eventually credited it for its success, however grudgingly, but he originally believed it would result in genocide (hence, his pledge to ignore it).
Sensitive to how unpresidential this made his boss look, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tried to fib about Obama’s position on the surge to the media. Baghdad Bob the Second said on “Fox and Friends” yesterday, “I don’t think there’s any doubt, as candidate Obama said, adding 20,000 men and women into Iraq would improve the security situation.”
There’s not only doubt; there’s absolute, unquestioning certainty he said the exact opposite. He said at the time, “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.” (Watch him insist on defeatism on video.)
At least Gibbs’ interview had its moments of levity. He had this remarkable exchange with Gretchen Carlson:
Carlson: Excuse me, back in 2007, he said he was against the surge.
Gibbs: No, he said he was against the surge.
White House talking points, from the creators of Airplane!
Obama lurched from one lie to another, taking credit for President Bush’s achievements in Iraq. For instance, he said withdrawing troops from Iraq “was my pledge to the American people as a candidate for this office. Last February, I announced a plan that would bring our combat brigades out of Iraq, while redoubling our efforts to strengthen Iraq’s Security Forces and support its government and people.”
Yes, he did. That plan had been formulated and announced by President Bush in early December 2008.
Pivoting to Afghanistan, he promised a withdrawal by a date certain. He said that “next August, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility…[M]ake no mistake: This transition will begin.” Obama promised to move forward with a deadline, although Sen. John McCain noted that the counterinsurgency being carried out by Gen. David Petraeus “is undercut by the president’s plan to begin withdrawing U.S. forces in July 2011–no matter what conditions are on the ground. None of our military leaders recommended this approach.” Just last week top Marine General James Conway told reporters Obama’s deadline is “giving our enemy sustenance….In fact, we’ve intercepted communications that say, ‘Hey, you know, we only have to hold out for so long.’”
The beneficiaries of Obama’s war strategy are members of al-Qaeda, whom the president insisted everyone wanted to kill. “Americans across the political spectrum supported the use of force against those who attacked us on 9/11,” he said.
That’s not exactly true. Take Obama’s bundler, Jodie Evans, a left-wing radical who donated at least $50,000 to his campaign. Evans co-founded Code Pink, which opposed the war in Afghanistan as strongly after 9/11 as it does today. No fist-pumping outsider, Evans personally handed anti-American propaganda to Obama and has met with administration officials in the White House.
Obama shares Evans’ true passion: expanding socialist programs at home. Obama lamented:
Unfortunately, over the last decade, we’ve not done what’s necessary to shore up the foundations of our own prosperity. We spent a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits.
This is the typical left-wing view of war. Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund and mentor of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, believed in abolishing as much of our national defense as possible. She believed military spending stood in the way of establishing democratic socialism. In her 1989 book Families in Peril, Edelman wrote, “We must curb the fanatical military weasel and keep it in balance with competing national needs.” (But please, don’t question her patriotism.) Five years earlier, she provided additional details of her vision: “For each missile we cancel, we could eliminate poverty for a year in 92,000 families headed by females. If we canceled the whole program, we could eliminate poverty for all children in the U.S. twice over and have enough left to send all female heads of low-income families to college for a year!”
Otherwise, Barack Obama is so bored by the topic of American wars that he tried to inflict it on us. President Bush used to speak, perhaps too idealistically, of crushing evil and freeing all victims of terrorism and oppression. Obama last night said, “Ultimately, these terrorists will fail to achieve their goals.”
President Bush teared up at the sight of military men, much less discussing their sacrifice. Obama monotoned last night, “As one staff sergeant said, ‘I know that to my brothers in arms who fought and died, this day would probably mean a lot.’” Well, probably.
And thanks to Obama’s only emphatic message, I cannot get this song out of my head:
Our president is a child, our military is imperiled, and we should all be afraid — and motivated. Last night’s narcolepsy-inducing war speech show how high the stakes are.