Feb 28 2009
We have beaten al Qaeda and its allied Islamo Fascist forces in Iraq with the help of a newly liberated and democratic Iraqi People. I have said it many times, but it bears repeating. After 9-11 al Qaeda was the future of Islam, infamous for having delivered a massive blow against the Great Satan.
But after a long hard fight in Iraq (as President Bush did claim it would take, forget about anyÂ exuberantÂ aides) we have a totally different future to ponder and work for and cherish. al Qaeda and its brutal allies – such as the Mahdi Army (backed by Iran) – were on their heals and losing ground after the first invasion. The Iraqis were voting and starting to change their views of where they wanted to go. So these thugs used the only leadership tool they know – brutal and bloody violence.
al Qaeda went on such a bloody rampage against the Iraqi people – all to get the co-dependent liberal media to post pictures of a winless war (funny how these media allies also are facing extinction) – that they created a historic backlash called ‘The Awakening”. It started in Anbar Province in the fall of 2006, the center capitol of al Qaeda’s promised modern caliphate. In 2007 President Bush beat back the naysayers and wimp-out quitters in Congress – with the help of allies like John McCain, Gen Dave Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker – and we met the The Awakening with The Surge.Â
And over time we cleared out the rats nests with the help and support of the Iraqi people, and defeated al Qaeda’s plans for taking over the Middle East. In the end, al Qaeda was not Islam’s future but – to many Arab Muslims – Islam’s greatest enemy. The Great Satan was now ally and protector, while the Islamo Fascists were the new face of Satan.
As the Wall Street Journal notes today, President Obama has (indirectly, so as to not unhinge his liberal supporters) paid homage to the efforts of President Bush, to the point he is willing to protect our hard earned success by providing a reasonable exit strategy:
Though the headlines from the President’s speech mostly focused on his promise to end all U.S. combat operations in Iraq by August 31, 2010 — and withdraw U.S. forces fully by the end of the following year — there was considerably more to it than that. For starters, Mr. Obama again acknowledged that our forces in Iraq had “succeeded beyond any expectation,” not least his own.
Mr. Obama was also rightly generous in his praise of outgoing U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno, “two of our finest generals.” All three men were Bush appointees, and all were instrumental in devising, advocating and implementing the surge strategy that Mr. Bush pursued amid the derision of his critics, including then-Senator Obama.
President Obama also recognized that Iraqis themselves have made significant political progress, and that “there is renewed cause for hope in Iraq.” That’s a far cry from his message of last July, when he told reporters, after visiting Iraq, that “So far, I think we have not seen the kind of political reconciliation that’s going to bring about long-term stability in Iraq.”
But more important than Mr. Obama’s implicit repudiation of his own positions as a candidate (and the implicit vindication of Mr. Bush’s position, to say nothing of John McCain’s) is his decision to maintain a sizable U.S. military presence in Iraq — in the range of 35,000 to 50,000 troops — past the August 2010 “withdrawal” date. That “transitional force” is roughly the size of the U.S. military presence in South Korea through the Cold War. And its mission, involving training of Iraqi forces, U.S. force protection and “targeted counterterrorism missions,” largely describes what the U.S. is already doing in Iraq.
Most of Iraq’s provinces are under full Iraqi security control, and U.S. forces will be out of all Iraqi cities and towns by this July, as stipulated in the Status of Forces Agreement that the Bush Administration concluded with the Iraqi government last year. By making it clear a sizable U.S. force will remain in Iraq, Mr. Obama is showing a commitment to Iraq’s continued democratic progress and should help deter a revival of ethnic tensions. He’s also making clear the strategic advantage of having a stable U.S. ally in the heart of the Persian Gulf.
The sincerest form of political flattery is to retain the policies of your predecessors with determination and respect. He could have been more blunt in acknowledging his policy salute to Bush (even if he had to be convinced behind closed doors by the Bush policy allies). But I will accept this form of recognition, because it does protect the gains we paid for with our dearest blood. And in the end, that is what is most important.