Wes Clark on the surge: It was a Saudi payoff that worked

John McCormack catches Wes Clark in a couple of egregious errors on the surge today on Morning Joe.  The lesser mistake is Clark’s insistence that the surge didn’t involve Anbar at all, when as McCormack notes the Marines sent two extra battalions to the hotbed of terrorist activity as part of the increased deployment.  Worse, though, Clark tries to tell Scarborough that the surge had nothing to do with the Marines, and everything to do with the Saudis paying off the Sunni tribes:

This isn’t exactly a lost history. Actually, 4,000 extra Marines went to Anbar. The extra Marine battalions got a lot of attention in the beginning of the surge, especially since they had the toughest job in clearing Anbar, while the Army focused more on Baghdad. In fact, some debated whether the two extra Marine battalions would be enough for the mission — which the Corps answered almost immediately by beginning their string of successes in the region.

Certainly one would expect a military “analyst” for a major media outlet to know at least that much about the surge that he’s dismissing. However, it’s clear that Clark isn’t providing analysis but political cover for Barack Obama by trying to argue that the surge didn’t have any effect on Iraqi security. With the media pressing Obama to explain why he still opposes a strategy that worked, Clark wants to give him an out by claiming that the Iraqis beat al-Qaeda all by themselves after the Saudis bribed them to do so.

That allegation disrespects both the Iraqis in Anbar who risked and gave their lives to beat al-Qaeda as well as the Marines who gave them the opening to do so. It’s shameful for anyone to dismiss that heroic effort by the Corps in Anbar and the Army in Baghdad, but especially so for a former military commander.