Barack Obama added Joe Biden to the ticket to give him some much-needed gravitas on foreign policy and military affairs. Biden gave an indication of how successful this might be by managing to confuse the terms battalion and brigade in his acceptance speech at the convention last night. Most amusingly, it came while Biden attempted to argue that it was John McCain who was militarily incompetent:
Speaking at the Democratic National Convention about Sen. Barack Obama’s foreign policy judgment, Biden stated that Obama has advocated for two additional battalions in Afghanistan.
In fact, Obama called for two extra brigades – a small verbal slip, but a significant numerical one. A brigade is composed of a varying number of battalions. Biden’s prepared remarks included the correct term.
Well, Biden does bring something different to the ticket; Obama can read a teleprompter.
Even beyond this embarrassing gaffe, Biden goes off the rails with this speech. Afghanistan was actually in better shape three years ago than it was last year. Notice that Biden doesn’t mention Obama’s “judgment” on Afghanistan in 2005 to compare it to McCain’s; he mentions 2007. A series of force reductions by other NATO members, changes in strategy, as well as a really foolish appeasement plan from Pervez Musharraf in 2006, helped allow the Taliban to recover and worsen the situation.
So yes, no one was talking much about Afghanistan in 2005. I commented often about how that conflict had mostly disappeared from the mainstream media, and it was because at that point, the effort had gone well. John McCain made the same comment, and he was right. Both he and Barack Obama were right in 2007, when the situation deteriorated to the point where the NATO command got the boot and new strategies were put it place to use much more aggressive tactics against the Taliban.
As for McCain’s alleged support for a disastrous strategy in Iraq, that’s so untrue as to be outright laughable, almost as bad as Biden’s use of battalions for brigades. McCain started warning of the strategic errors taking place in Iraq in 2005, and pushed for the “surge” for years before it was finally implemented in 2007. Biden’s running mate opposed the surge and claimed it would create even more violence and destabilization, and to this day can’t bring himself to admit that McCain was right and he was wrong. Had Obama been in charge at that point, we would have run away from Iraq and allowed it to collapse into a failed state, and a haven for the terrorists we defeated.