Commentary Magazine


Barrels of Snake Oil

Barack Obama in a tough interview with Katie Couric (yeah, really) gives this explanation for why the surge even in retrospect was a bad idea:

Because … it’s pretty straightforward. By us putting $10 billion to $12 billion a month, $200 billion, that’s money that could have gone into Afghanistan. Those additional troops could have gone into Afghanistan. That money also could have been used to shore up a declining economic situation in the United States. That money could have been applied to having a serious energy security plan so that we were reducing our demand on oil, which is helping to fund the insurgents in many countries. So those are all factors that would be taken into consideration in my decision– to deal with a specific tactic or strategy inside of Iraq.

So aside from wanting to use the money elsewhere (a dubious proposition which apparently would support making all national security decisions based on calculus as to whether Obama would like more domestic spending) there, of course, is the utter disconnect, an avoidance of reality.

What, Senator, would have occurred without the surge? Would it have been alright for the U.S. to be badly defeated, Al Qaeda to achieve a victory, genocide to have broken out, and the leaders he met with yesterday to likely be slaughtered or forced into exile? In his fantasy world Iraq simply was an unfortunate distraction from college tuition subsidies and from a war involving the very same enemy in Afghanistan.

Again, one need not have supported the war from the onset to have realized (either in 2006 or now) that losing it would have been a disaster. And now to say, well I really wanted to do something else with the money seems frankly childish. We had a mess, we fixed it, he opposed the fix and now he wishes we hadn’t fixed the mess. This is not an advertisement for presidential leadership. (It is perhaps a McCain campaign ad.)