A year ago the Democrats were ecstatic over the prospect of tying the Republican presidential candidate to George Bush and his supposedly failed war in Iraq. Today the subject of the war has returned to the forefront of the campaign, but it is John McCain who is making an issue of it. Over the past week the McCain campaign has called as much attention as possible to Barack Obama’s recent attempt to reconcile the things he has said about Iraq over the past few years to today’s reality on the ground. Obama has even changed the Iraq page on his website to remove previous criticism of the successful troop surge and to delete the reference to removing troops from Iraq beginning “immediately.”
One doesn’t need a long memory to recall Obama’s multiple positions on the war in Iraq. Before we went into Iraq, Obama favored rolling the dice and trusting Saddam Hussein’s word on the threat he posed to the United States. Obama won the Democratic nomination in large part by criticizing Hillary Clinton for her initial support of the invasion of Iraq. I wonder how many Democrats would have predicted that Hillary Clinton’s Iraq position would be the one vindicated by events in the final months of the election. Her predictions were certainly more accurate than any of Barack Obama’s.
In January of 2007, Obama did not believe the troop surge in Iraq would work. On MSNBC he said, “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.” On Face the Nation, he said, “We cannot impose a military solution on what has effectively become a civil war. And until we acknowledge that reality -- we can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops, I don't know any expert on the region or any military officer that I've spoken to privately that believes that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground.” Less than a year ago, Obama was ready to declare defeat and pull the troops out of Iraq.