Can Obama Admit He Was Wrong?

The Left-of-center policy Brookings Institute has performed an important public service by publishing a monthly set of indices marking the progress in the Iraq security and reconstruction. The report is comprehensive. There are over 40 Security indicators covering items as inclusive as the number of US troop fatalities, to the number of insurgent attacks by province, and indices of political and press freedom. These indices have largely shown significant progress over the last year since the surge in troops took effect. However, perhaps looking at press coverage is an additional index of the situation on the ground in Iraq. Specifically, the less the coverage the better the situation on the ground.

The American Journalism Review reports that:

“During the first 10 weeks of 2007, Iraq accounted for 23 percent of the news hole for network TV news. In 2008, it plummeted to 3 percent during that period. On cable networks it fell from 24 percent to 1 percent”

According to, in the three months of 2007, 245 American died. That number fell to 108 in the first three months of this year. Last month experienced the fewest number of American casualties since the war began, 13. Although the Washington Post deserves credit for noting this milestone, the important milestones has not received  nearly the attention that high American casualty rates did.

This victory of sorts comes on the dramatic decision by President George Bush last year to implement the surge. Many in the military and most in the political world thought that Iraq was lost and that frankly the sooner we withdrew the better. Bush doubled-down his commitment to Iraq and found the right general, David Petraeus, who wrote the book on how to defeat insurgencies, to prosecute the war. At this point, Al Qaeda has been largely defeated and the Iraqi Army is leading most combat operations.

Last year, Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama, who argues that judgment is more important than experience judged that:

“I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq are going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.” He went on: “I don’t think the president’s strategy is going to work. We went through two weeks of hearings on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; experts from across the spectrum–military and civilian, conservative and liberal–expressed great skepticism about it.”

At least in this particular, Obama’s considered judgment on an important matter has been proved wrong. He underestimated what American forces under the proper leadership could accomplish.

As far back as 2003, the Left was arguing that in light of the failure to find large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction “Bush must admit the error of his ways” and that failure to do so constituted a character flaw. Where are those same voices urging that Obama admit the failure in his assessment of the efficacy of the surge? We will have to be satisfied with the fact that criticism of the surge was purged from his campaign web site. The final confirmation in the success of the surge, of course. will come if Obama starts arguing that he was behind the surge all along.

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