Did you see the interview last week by Katie Couric with Senator and Presidential-hopeful Barack Obama? It's gotten a lot of press. The right-wing bloggers and the Fox Noise Channel have been blasting Obama for the last 6 days on his answers to Couric's line of questioning on the "success" of the surge. In case you didn't see it, here are the highlights...
Couric: "You raised a lot of eyebrows on this trip saying even knowing what you know now, you still would not have supported the surge. People may be scratching their heads and saying, 'Why?' "
Obama: "What I was referring to, and I've consistently referred to, is the need for a strategy that actually concludes our involvement in Iraq and moves Iraqis to take responsibility for the country. ... What happens is that if we continue to put $10 billion to $12 billion a month into Iraq, if we are willing to send as many troops as we can muster continually into Iraq? There's no doubt that that's gonna have an impact. But it doesn't meet our long-term strategic goal, which is to make the American people safer over the long term."
Couric: "But do you not give the surge any credit for reducing violence in Iraq?"
Obama: "No, no ... of course I have. There is no doubt that the extraordinary work of our U.S. forces has contributed to a lessening of the violence. ... So this, in no way, detracts from the great efforts of our young men and women in uniform. In fact, that's one of the most striking things about visiting Iraq is to see how dedicated they are, what a great job they do."
Couric: "But talking microcosmically, did the surge, the addition of 30,000... additional troops ... help the situation in Iraq?"
Obama: "You've asked me three different times, and I have said repeatedly that there is no doubt that our troops helped to reduce violence. There's no doubt."
Couric: "But yet you're saying ... given what you know now, you still wouldn't support it ... so I'm just trying to understand this."
Obama: "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."
Couric: "Do you think the level of security in Iraq ... would exist today without the surge?"
Obama: "Katie, I have no idea what would have happened had we applied my approach, which was to put more pressure on the Iraqis to arrive at a political reconciliation. So this is all hypotheticals. What I can say is that there's no doubt that our U.S. troops have contributed to a reduction of violence in Iraq."
Yo Katie! I thought you were a professional journalist! Let's start with the first question, shall we? "You raised a lot of eyebrows" and "people may be scratching their heads." Did you actually see raised eyebrows? Which people are scratching their heads? Are these made-up people that only exist in the world of failing news anchors or are they real people? Because, you know, I'm not a real journalist. I don't really know the rules here, but usually when I suggest that someone feels a certain way or that a person is physically doing something, that person usually has a name, and my personal integrity suggests to me that it's probably appropriate to back up such statements by applying a name to the person responsible for the feeling or action described. But then again, like I just said, I'm not a real journalist.
I'd move on to the next questions in the interview, but they are all the same question: did the surge reduce the violence in Iraq? And the answer is yes, which Obama agreed to each and every time she reworded it. But does that mean that the surge worked?
Let's think about that for a while. Did the surge work? To truly answer the question, one must first know what the "surge" actually was. The surge, or as it was originally called, "The New Way Forward" was actually a catastrophic failure. Yeah, that's right, it was a FAILURE. As far as I'm concerned, the only mistake Obama made with Katie Couric was that he didn't just flat-out say "listen, bitch, the surge didn't work."
Am I insane? Am I the only one in the whole country that understands the surge? No, I'm not, but I definitely seem to be in the minority. But why? The surge DID NOT work. Here are the facts...
"The New Way Forward" was a specific plan that called for an increase in troops on the ground in Baghdad and the Anbar Province to provide "breathing space" for the Iraqi government to implement 18 specific government, security, and economic benchmarks. The surge began in January 2007, and it was to take just six months. Six months later, when the surge was supposed to be over already, we were told that even more troops would be needed and that another six months would be required in order to meet the benchmarks. Six months after that, one year into the six-month surge, only seven of the 18 benchmarks had been reached. Six months after that, now 18 months into the six-month surge, 12 of the 18 benchmarks have been met. Does that sound like success to you? It's taken three times longer than projected to meet 67% of the goals. Success? When I went to school, 67% was a D, and you couldn't turn in your work a year after it's due date.
Now, it's true that violence has gone down, and part of that decline has to do with the increased number of American troops. But it's even more true to say that violence has gone down largely due to the fact that the Sunnis in Anbar and the Shiites fighting under al Sadr realized that the continued warfare was only serving to ethnically cleanse both sides of the civil war, and that a cease-fire was necessary. Both groups came to these realizations and began their draw-down months before the surge began.
So Barack Obama had to duck around Katie Couric's interview because it was obvious that Couric was trying to get him to disrespect the troops, which he had no reason to do and wouldn't have done even if there was a cause for disrespect. It would have been really nice to see him bitchslap her and tell her to just shut up, but that probably wouldn't have gone over too well either.
The surge has not been successful, and it should have never been necessary to begin with. George W. Bush led the United States military into a soverign country that had not attacked us or any of our allies. After overthrowing the government in Iraq, the United States has continued to occupy Iraq for over five years now. The right-wing attack machine is attempting to show that Obama lacks experience and wisdom, but the truth of the matter is that he wisely opposed the war from the beginning, he understood that the surge was nothing more than a tactic designed to continue the fighting so that the oil barons could reap the benefits of a chaotic situation in the Middle East, and, unlike McCain, Obama understands that every dollar we spend in Iraq is a dollar that we could have spent tracking down the actual terrorists that did attack us or investing into new energy ideas that are absolutely necessary if we plan to continue to be a beacon for the rest of the world.
Feel free to watch the whole Couric/Obama interview here: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/07/22/eveningnews/main4283623.shtml
And click on this to read a really good article on a similar vein by a much more credible person than myself: http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/93081/forget_the_surge_--_violence_is_down_in_iraq_because_ethnic_cleansing_was_brutally_effective/