Fact check: What did Obama say about the surge?

Barack Obama finds himself stuck between Iraq and a hard place on the surge.  Instead of just admitting that he miscalculated the potential effect of the surge when he opposed it in January 2007, he has instead tried rewriting history in order to prove himself correct.  ABC’s Jake Tapper looks at the Obama rebuttal — and demolishes it:

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, on January 10 2007 predicted that the surge of troops in Iraq would fail. “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he told MSNBC. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse.”

Four days later he told CBS’s Face the Nation that “we cannot impose a military solution on what has effectively become a civil war. And until we acknowledge that reality — we can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops, I don’t know any expert on the region or any military officer that I’ve spoken to privately that believes that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground.”

Asked about these predictions on Sunday’s Meet the Press, Obama told NBC’s Tom Brokaw that “I know that there’s that little snippet that you ran,” referring to the MSNBC clip, “but there were also statements made during the course of this debate in which I said there’s no doubt that additional U.S. troops could temporarily quell the violence. But unless we saw an underlying change in the politics of the country, unless Sunni, Shia, Kurd made different decisions, then we were going to have a civil war and we could not stop a civil war simply with more troops.”

But did he really?  As Tapper notes — no.  The best Team Obama could manage was a quote in March 2007, when he told an Iowa media outlet that we might see improvements in “certain neighborhoods” but that it wouldn’t affect violence across the country.  In fact, he told WQAD that the surge had already failed by that point — even though we hadn’t transferred most of the troops for the surge to Iraq by that point.

By that time, the Senate debate had long since concluded.  The House passed a resolution disapproving of the change in strategy and troop levels on February 16, 2007, on a party-line vote.  The Senate failed to reach cloture on their version of the resolution the next day, falling five votes short of the 60 needed.  Not once during this time or for months afterward would Obama acknowledge that an increase in troop levels would bring more security to Iraq, not less as he claimed in January 2007.

Put simply, Obama got the surge wrong, as did the House.  Obama cannot bring himself to admit that, however, since to do so would be to admit that he showed himself as inept in the kind of military strategy required for the Presidency.  Instead, he wants to pretend that he foresaw a lessening of violence but a political quagmire, which also is wrong, but is the meme du jour among Democrats on the defensive for having indulged in defeatism all during 2007.

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