Senior U.S. News & World Report writer Michael Barone:
As we enter the second half of the campaign year, facts are undermining the Democratic narrative that has dominated our politics since about the time Hurricane Katrina rolled into the Gulf coast -- most importantly, the facts about Iraq.Surf to Confederate Yankee for a related point.
During the Democratic primary season, all the party's candidates veered hardly a jot or tittle from the narrative that helped the Democrats sweep the November 2006 elections. Iraq is spiraling into civil war, we invaded unwisely and have botched things ever since, no good outcome is possible, and it is time to get out of there as fast as we can.
In January 2007, when George W. Bush ordered the surge strategy, which John McCain had advocated since the summer of 2003, Barack Obama informed us that the surge couldn't work. The only thing to do was to get out as soon as possible.
That stance proved to be a good move toward winning the presidential nomination -- but it was poor prophecy. It is beyond doubt now that the surge has been hugely successful. . .
If George W. Bush was wrong about the surge from summer 2003 to January 2007, Barack Obama has been wrong about it from January 2007 to today. John McCain seems to have been right on it all along. When asked why he changed his position on an issue, John Maynard Keynes said: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" What say you, Sen. Obama?
Edward Luce in the June 24th The Financial Times:
Having stuck to the line that he would withdraw one to two brigades a month and remove all US combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office, Mr Obama’s promise is looking increasingly vulnerable to John McCain’s taunts of “surrender” as conditions in Iraq continue to improve.(via Instapundit, TigerHawk)
The latest Pentagon report on Iraq this week concluded that “total security incidents” had fallen to their lowest level in four years. In addition to the sharp reduction in US troop and Iraqi civilian casualties, supporters of the troop “surge” point to increasingly credible signs of reconciliation between Nuri al-Maliki’s Shia-led government and the Sunni groups that oppose al-Qaeda.
“It would be reckless to withdraw all our combat troops from Iraq before the next Iraqi national election in late 2009,” says Ken Pollack, a former official in the administration of Bill Clinton, now at the Brookings Institution. “There can be little doubt that political progress is now taking place on the ground in Iraq. Pulling out too soon would risk those gains and compromise US interests.”
Michael O’Hanlon, a colleague of Mr Pollack’s and a fellow supporter of the surge, said: “Barack Obama has been leaving hints here and there that he is more flexible on the withdrawal from Iraq than you might expect. But the 16-month deadline is very clear. If he is going to dilute or change that timetable he would need to do it soon.”
Senior advisers to Mr Obama say the campaign is constantly monitoring and debating its response to the situation on the ground in Iraq. But they say that Mr Obama has no plans to modify his timetable for US troop withdrawal. However, Mr Obama and some of his most senior foreign policy advisers have been dropping tantalising hints that there might be a new flexibility over their definition of “withdrawal”.