FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Joe Biden: Obama’s administration wholeheartedly endorses the Bush Iraq Strategy
VP-to-be Joseph Biden (D-DE) came out of hiding this week to boast that he and his boss will be following the post-Iraq-conflict blueprint drawn up by the Bush administration to a T.
At an appearance in Baghdad today, Biden said that “the new administration will stick to the timetable in the [U.S-Iraq Status of Forces] agreement.” As AP writer Robert Reid points out, “Obama pledged during his election campaign to withdraw all American combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office” (naturally he misses the fact that Obama actually sponsored legislation that would have removed all troops from Iraq by March of last year). The SOFA, though, provides for combat troops to remain in Iraq until 2012, with the possibility of an even longer stay if the situation on the ground warrants it.
Biden said the incoming president, though still committed to withdrawal, now “wants the withdrawal to be a responsible one,” and that he “does not want to waste the security gains that have been achieved,” according to Iraqi spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh.
This latest is, of course, a far cry from the Obama who opposed the ‘surge’ in forces and General David Petraeus’s commitment to emphasize counterinsurgency in Iraq, as well as from the Obama who both refused to admit that the new strategy was succeeding and then, even after begrudgingly admitting that some gains had been made in that Arab state, made the head-scratching claim that he would still oppose the successful change in course if, knowing ahead of time how amazingly it would succeed, he were presented with the opportunity to do so again.
Speaking of far cries, all three of those Obama positions and statements are worlds away from the claim Joe Biden made in September that he and Obama had actually come up with the strategy being used by Petraeus, and were ultimately responsible for its success. At the time he made that outlandish statement, I said the following:
This revelation suggests that we are to view the actions of both of these men with regard to Iraq in a new light.
For example, I suppose we are now expected to believe that when Biden said, “The president and others who support the surge have it exactly backwards,” in December 2006, he secretly meant, “Go through with the surge, Gen. Petraeus — I believe in you!”
Or, when Biden was pushing for Iraq to be divided into into three ethnically-homogeneous, unsustainable “states,” then abandoned, he was actually working behind the scenes with the freshman Senator from Illinois and General Petraeus to craft a plan to make Iraq more unified and sustainable.
We are likewise expected to believe that, when Barack Obama sponsored legislation that would have withdrawn U.S. troops from that country beginning last year — at the most sensitive point to date in the entire conflict — with a full retreat having been completed by this past March, thereby rendering every single achievement made possible by the ‘Surge,’ from the rising up of Concerned Local Citizens, to the driving out of al Qaeda in Iraq, to the quelling of sectarian violence, to the growing political reconciliation that made possible legislation passed this week setting the stage for provincial elections in that country, entirely null and void, he was actually laying the ground work for success there. Good thing General Petraeus was somehow in on the secret there, and understood that all of Obama’s posturing was actually cover for Petraeus to do what he has done to date in Iraq.
The truth is, though he was nominated in large part for his firm anti-Iraq stances, Obama and his chosen team have been all over the map on the issue, with the only consistency being that, as the primary gave way to the general election, the general election gave way to the transition, and the transition in turn gave way to the inauguration, his position has become farther and farther right, to the point at which, now, his position and apparent policy largely indistinguishable from those of his predecessor.
I doubt that’s what MoveOn, CodePink, and so many others had in mind when they got Barack the nomination.
As Abe Greenwald of Commentary‘s blog wrote today:
So, that’s that. The Obama team is officially on-board with the Bush Iraq plan. This comes as no surprise to anyone who’s been watching the progress in Iraq closely. But the unqualified reversal from anti-war ticket to pro-war administration is still something to marvel at. And the justification gymnastics from Obama voters who still can’t admit victory in Iraq should be fun to watch as well.
Fun to watch, indeed. Like, with a giant, super-sized bucket of popcorn.