The Axis of Denial

The Washington Post, no less, takes the Democratic presidential candidates to task for refusing, during the weekend debate, to acknowledge success in Iraq and for factual misstatements:

…What Ms. Clinton, Mr. Obama, John Edwards and Bill Richardson … offered was an exclusive focus on the Iraqi political failures — coupled with a blizzard of assertions about the war that were at best unfounded and in several cases simply false. Mr. Obama led the way, claiming that Sunni tribes in Anbar province joined forces with U.S. troops against al-Qaeda in response to the Democratic victory in the 2006 elections — a far-fetched assertion for which he offered no evidence.

Mr. Obama acknowledged some reduction of violence, but said he had predicted that adding troops would have that effect. In fact, on Jan. 8, 2007, he said that in the absence of political progress, “I don’t think 15,000 or 20,000 more troops is going to make a difference in Iraq and in Baghdad.” He also said he saw “no evidence that additional American troops would change the behavior of Iraqi sectarian politicians and make them start reining in violence by members of their religious groups.” Ms. Clinton, for her part, refused to retract a statement she made in September, when she said it would require “a suspension of disbelief” to believe that the surge was working.

Even more disturbing was the refusal of the Democrats to adjust their policies to the changed situation. Ms. Clinton said she didn’t “see any reason why [U.S. troops] should remain beyond, you know, today” and outlined a withdrawal plan premised on a defeat comparable to Vietnam (“We have to figure out what we’re going to do with the 100,000-plus American civilians who are there” and “all the Iraqis who sided with us. . . . Are we going to leave them?”). Mr. Obama stuck to his plan for “a phased redeployment”; if his scheme of a year ago had been followed, almost all American troops would be out by this March.

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