Barack Obama’s long absence from Iraq after his one and only visit to the country –a two day visit in January, 2006—is shocking. Until John McCain’s blistering attack on Obama’s apparent indifference to observing conditions there, I had simply assumed that, like Senators McCain, Clinton, Biden and Governor Romney, Obama had been to Iraq after the surge had been initiated and its initial successes achieved. After all, Senator Obama wants to be the Commander-in-Chief in wartime. Given the centrality of the Iraq theater to that war and the conditions in Iraq crucial relevance to the campaign ahead, I am astonished to learn that he hasn’t bothered to make one trip to the country since declaring his candidacy for the presidency.
Obama’s indifference to events in Iraq and the rapid and dramatic progress that has been achieved there in the past 15 months underscores the completeness of the ideology he brings to the campaign. Facts simply don’t matter to him. He has already decided the battle for Iraq is lost, even though it is in fact nearly won. The far left of the Democratic Party demanded an absolute purity on the war, and Obama gave it to them –so completely, it seems, that he decided not to even keep up an appearance of interest in the course of the war.
Michael Yon, by contrast, has spent a great deal of time in Iraq since January of 2005 –much of it on the very front lines of the fighting in places like Mosul, Basra, the worst areas of Anbar and of course Baghdad. Yon has detailed his observations in a remarkable new book, Moment of Truth In Iraq that appeared on May 1. We at Townhall.com esteem the book so highly that we will give you a copy of it if you subscribe to our new magazine. We are convinced that no fair reader of Yon’s stirring accounts of the hard-fought but successful battles of the past two years or of his chilling descriptions of the enemy our forces have faced and largely defeated there under the command of General Pertraeus will be confused about either the stakes or the soundness of Senator McCain’s insistence that we not cut and run on the threshold of this extraordinary victory.
We have even constructed a page for you to give the subscription and the book as a gift to someone else –someone perhaps who doesn’t understand what has been happening in Iraq, someone for whom Bush Derangement Syndrome has grown so feverish that no news is allowed to penetrate their understanding of the war, no matter how disfigured that understanding is.
The real inconvenient truth in 2008 is that not only has the surge worked militarily, the political progress long demanded by Democratic critics of the war has been obvious and sustained throughout the first five months of the year. The rapid development of the Iraqi Security Forces and the shattering of the Sadrite special militias in Basra and Sadr City are obvious, undeniable evidences that the freely-elected Maliki government is bringing the vast majority of the country along with it to a new and stable Iraq, an ally of America and a counterweight to Iran in the region. Obama hasn’t risked a trip to Iraq for more than two years because to have done so might have interfered with his carefully nurtured separate reality of inevitable defeat and necessary surrender.
Obama’s refusal to seek out the opinions of General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, especially in the field but even privately when they have journeyed to D.C. on many occasions over the past two years ought to alarm even his devoted followers, and ought to move undecideds decisively towards John McCain, as Obama’s consistent indifference to crucial facts represents much more than a deep and dangerous ignorance about the battle for Iraq and the larger war against the jihadists.
It also displays a conceit about his own abilities and intelligence that would cripple an Obama Administration from day one. Obama appears to really believe that he knows what he needs to know and to believe that he has the plans that will work. His naïve declaration of intent to meet with Ahmadinejad, Castro, Chavez and Kim was another expression of this arrogance, one that has remained undisturbed by the many presentations on just how deeply flawed his grasp of history is on such matters as the Kennedy-Khrushchev summit.
Ignorance of crucial facts in important debates is a large flaw in a presidential candidate.
Ignorance of the ignorance is an even greater one, a disqualifying one. Becoming President of the United States isn’t like becoming President of the Harvard Law Review. There are consequences to incompetence and ignorance in that office, and though the left likes to flay George Bush as the president as the blockhead who couldn’t be bothered with bad news, in fact W has kept up a steady diet of reading and inquiry throughout his seven-plus years as well as a crucial willingness to change course when necessary as occurred with the Iraq strategy.
There is very little chance of changing the decision of many on the left that it should do other than throw the dice with Obama. They are too invested in losing Iraq in order to cement their case for Bush hatred through the ages. The prospect of a stable, prospering Iraq gives them nightmares as it would burnish the reputation of Bush, and for the left, hating Bush long ago came to dominate their reason for being, and any progress in Iraq must be denied as a result.
Barack Obama has ridden this fury on the left to his party’s nomination, but he has confused its power in the primaries and especially the caucuses with the appeal of his own wisdom. He also errs in thinking that the majority of Americans prefer to forfeit the costly win in Iraq just so Democrats can score political points. The combination with his resolute attachments to surrender and appeasement and his overarching vanity is not the sort of appeal that has worked in modern American politics.
So pick a fence-sitter or even an Obama supporter and send them Yon’s book. The latter almost certainly won’t read it, but the refusal to do so will confirm why they ought not to be part of the governing coalition in the country.
And the former might, which will go far to securing another vote for John McCain.