Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Myth vs. Fact: Barack Obama's Iraq Op-Ed

U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign today (July 14, 2008) released the following Myth vs. Fact on Barack Obama's Iraq op-ed in The New York Times today:

MYTH #1: Barack Obama Opposed The Surge Because Of The Military Strain, Situation In Afghanistan And The War's Monetary Cost

MYTH: Barack Obama Writes That He Opposed The Surge Because Of The Military Strain, Afghanistan Situation And The War's Monetary Cost. "But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we've spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq's leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge." (Barack Obama, Op-Ed, "My Plan For Iraq," The New York Times, 7/14/08)

FACT: Barack Obama Said He Opposed The Surge In Iraq Because It Would Not Work Or Reduce Violence.

· October 2006: Barack Obama Says We Cannot "Through Putting In More Troops Or Maintaining The Presence That We Have, Expect That Somehow The Situation Is Going To Improve." Obama: "Given the deteriorating situation, it is clear at this point that we cannot, through putting in more troops or maintaining the presence that we have, expect that somehow the situation is going to improve, and we have to do something significant to break the pattern that we've been in right now." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 10/22/06)

· January 2007: Barack Obama Says The Surge Would Actually Worsen Sectarian Violence In Iraq. Obama: "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." (MSNBC's "Response To The President's Speech On Iraq," 1/10/07)

· January 2007: Barack Obama Says He Did Not Know Of Any Middle East Expert Or Military Officer That Believed That The New Strategy Would "Make A Substantial Difference On The Situation On The Ground." Obama: "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." (CBS' "Face The Nation," 1/14/07)

· March 2007: Barack Obama Warns The Troop Surge Would Not Make A Long-Term Difference. Obama: "[E]ven those who are supporting -- but here's the thing, Larry -- even those who support the escalation have acknowledged that 20,000, 30,000, even 40,000 more troops placed temporarily in places like Baghdad are not going to make a long-term difference." (CNN's "Larry King Live," 3/19/07)

· May 2007: Barack Obama Says He Does Not Believe The Surge Is Working. Obama: "And what I know is that what our troops deserve is not just rhetoric, they deserve a new plan. Governor Romney and Senator McCain clearly believe that the course that we're on in Iraq is working, I do not." (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks To The Coalition Of Black Trade Unionists Convention, Chicago, IL, 5/25/07)

· July 2007: Barack Obama Says The Surge Had Not Worked In Iraq. Obama: "My assessment is that the surge has not worked and we will not see a different report eight weeks from now." (NBC's "The Today Show," 7/18/07)

· November 2007: Barack Obama Says The Surge Has Not Worked, And Had Potentially Worsened The Situation In Iraq. Obama: "Finally, in 2006-2007, we started to see that, even after an election, George Bush continued to want to pursue a course that didn't withdraw troops from Iraq but actually doubled them and initiated a search and at that stage I said very clearly, not only have we not seen improvements, but we're actually worsening, potentially, a situation there." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 11/11/07)

MYTH #2: Barack Obama Claimed That He Could Remove Troops Within 16 Months

MYTH: Barack Obama Writes That He Could "Safely Redeploy" All American Combat Troops Within 16 Months. "We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began." (Barack Obama, Op-Ed, "My Plan For Iraq," The New York Times, 7/14/08)

FACT: Military Commanders And Troops On The Ground Say That There Is "No Way" For The 16-Month Timetable To Work.

· ABC News: Commanders In Iraq Say "No Way" Barack Obama's Withdrawal Plan Could Work. "While Anderson and his troops have a positive attitude, several commanders who looked at the Obama plan told ABC News, on background, that there was 'no way' it could work logistically." (Martha Raddatz, "Obama's Iraq Withdrawal Plan May Prove Difficult," ABC News, 7/11/08)

· ABC News: "Physically Removing The Combat Brigades Within That Kind Of Time Frame Would Be Difficult, As Well." (Martha Raddatz, "Obama's Iraq Withdrawal Plan May Prove Difficult," ABC News, 7/11/08)

· ABC News: Removing The Equipment From Iraq Could Be "The Real Problem." "It is the equipment that is the real problem. In the kind of redeployment that Anderson is talking about, the troops head home, but much of their equipment stays behind. Two combat brigades means up to 1,200 humvees in addition to thousands of other pieces of equipment, like trucks, fuelers, tankers and helicopters. And 90 percent of the equipment would have to be moved by ground through the Iraqi war zone, to the port in Kuwait, where it must all be cleaned and inspected and prepared for shipment. This is a place with frequent dust storms, limited port facilities and limited numbers of wash racks." (Martha Raddatz, "Obama's Iraq Withdrawal Plan May Prove Difficult," ABC News, 7/11/08)

MYTH #3: Barack Obama Claimed Iraq "Never Has Been" The Central Front In The War On Terrorism

MYTH: Barack Obama Writes That "Iraq Is Not The Central Front In The War On Terrorism, And It Never Has Been." (Barack Obama, Op-Ed, "My Plan For Iraq," The New York Times, 7/14/08)

FACT: Iraq Has Been Called "The Most Important And Serious Issue Today" By Al Qaeda And "The Central Front" By Our Commanding General.

· Osama Bin Laden: "The Most Important And Serious Issue Today For The Whole World Is This Third World War ... Raging In [Iraq]." BIN LADEN: "I now address my speech to the whole of the Islamic nation: Listen and understand. The issue is big and the misfortune is momentous. The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation. It is raging in the land of the two rivers. The world's millstone and pillar is in Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate." (Text Of Bin Laden's Audio Message To Muslims In Iraq, Posted On Jihadist Websites, 12/28/04)

· General Petraeus: "Iraq is, in fact, the central front of al Qaeda's global campaign and we devote considerable resources to the fight against al Qaeda Iraq." (Gen. David Petraeus, Press Briefing, Arlintong, VA, 4/26/07)

MYTH #4: Barack Obama Says He Is Concerned About The Situation In Afghanistan

MYTH: Barack Obama Writes That We Must "Pursue A New Strategy" In Afghanistan. "As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there." (Barack Obama, Op-Ed, "My Plan For Iraq," The New York Times, 7/14/08)

FACT: As Chairman Of The Subcommittee On European Affairs, Barack Obama Has Failed To Hold Any Hearings On Afghanistan.

· Barack Obama Has Served As Chairman Of The Subcommittee On European Affairs From 2007 -- 2008. (U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Website, www.senate.gov, Accessed 2/15/08)

· The Subcommittee On European Affairs Has Jurisdiction Over The Countries Of Europe As Well As NATO Activities. "Jurisdiction: The subcommittee deals with all matters concerning U.S. relations with the countries on the continent of Europeand with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe." (U.S. Senate Committee On Foreign Relations Website, http://foreign.senate.gov, Accessed 2/27/07)

· As Chairman Of The Subcommittee On European Affairs, Barack Obama Could Have Held Hearings On The Role Of NATO In Afghanistan. "[A]mbassador John Ritch, who served for two decades as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's senior staffer on European affairs and East-West relations[P]oints out that as subcommittee chair, Obama could have examined a wide variety of urgent matters, from the role of NATO in Afghanistan and Iraq to European energy policy and European responses to climate change..." (Joe Conason, "Obama's European Problem," www.salon.com, 12/29/07)

· Barack Obama: "I became Chairman of this committee at the beginning of this campaign, at the beginning of 2007. So it is true that we haven't had oversight hearings on Afghanistan." (CNN's "The Situation Room," 2/27/08)

FACT: Barack Obama Has Never Been To Afghanistan; Skipped The Opportunity To Go In 2006.

· "Obama's Second Trip Abroad As A U.S. Senator Starts In Qatar And, In Addition To Iraq, Will Include Stops In Kuwait, Jordan, Israel And The Palestinian Territories, According To A Statement From His Washington Office." ("Obama To Visit Middle East, Including Iraq," The Associated Press, 1/4/06)

· "[Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN)] Is Traveling With U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Sen. Christopher 'Kit' Bond, R-Mo., And Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn. Their Weeklong Trip Including A Stop In Israel For Meetings With Israeli And Palestinian Officials. Other Stops Included Kuwait, Qatar, Afghanistan And Pakistan." (Rick Callahan, "Bayh: Next Six Months Crucial To Iraq's Future," The Associated Press, 1/7/06)

· "After A Two-Day Iraq Tour, Obama Is To Travel To Jordan And Israel On His Own." (Jeff Zeleny, "Obama Making 1st Visit To Iraq," Chicago Tribune, 1/5/06)

FACT: Barack Obama Voted Against Providing Funding For Operations In Afghanistan.

· Barack Obama Voted Against Providing $94.4 Billion In Critical Funding For The Troops In Iraq And Afghanistan. (H.R. 2206, CQ Vote #181: Passed 80-14: R 42-3; D 37-10; I 1-1, 5/24/07, Obama Voted Nay)

The Emergency Supplemental Provided The Following For U.S. Operations In Afghanistan:

$40 million for new power generation
$314 million for rural road rebuilding
$155 million for rural development
$19 million for agriculture
$174 million for Provincial Reconstruction Teams
$25 million for governance capacity building
$10 million for a Civilian Assistance Program
$79 million to support Diplomatic and Consular Programs
$16 million for Migration and Refugee Assistance
$16 million for International Disaster and Famine Assistance for Internally Displaced Persons Assistance
$47 million for International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement activities (Stephen Daggett, Amy Belasco, Pat Towell, Susan B. Epstein, Connie Veillette, Curt Tarnoff, Rhoda Margesson, and Bart Elias, "FY2007 Supplemental Appropriations For Defense, Foreign Affairs, And Other Purposes," Congressional Research Service, 7/2/07)

MYTH #5: Barack Obama Opposed The Iraq War Because It Would Be A Distraction From The Fight In Afghanistan

MYTH: Barack Obama Writes That He Opposed The Iraq War From The Beginning Because He Believed "It Was A Grave Mistake To Allow Ourselves To Be Distracted From The Fight Against Al Qaeda And The Taliban." "The differences on Iraq in this campaign are deep. Unlike Senator John McCain, I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president. I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks." (Barack Obama, Op-Ed, "My Plan For Iraq," The New York Times, 7/14/08)

FACT: Barack Obama Said In 2002 That He Opposed The War Because It Was A Political Attempt "By Political Hacks Like Karl Rove To Distract" From Domestic Issues.

· Barack Obama's Definitive Anti-War Speech In 2002 Does Not Mention The Word "Afghanistan" Or The "Taliban" Once: http://www.barackobama.com/2002/10/02/remarks_of_illinois_state_sen.php

· In October 2002, Barack Obama Said The Iraq War Was An "Attempt By Political Hacks Like Karl Rove To Distract Us From A Rise In The Uninsured..." And A Whole Host Of Other Domestic Issues. "What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income - to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war." (Barack Obama, Remarks, 10/2/02)

· In April 2003, Barack Obama Accused Bush Of Using The War To Divert Attention From Economic Issues. "Asked if Bush is re-electable, Obama said: Bush has had his political 'spin-masters, who are very good on focusing the public's attention on the war in Iraq, and they will do their best to keep the focus away from the economic disaster that is occurring in our communities. By next year, I think the cost of the war will be that much more apparent. We'll probably have to spend at least $30 billion annually in troop deployment in the rebuilding of Iraq which can be used to cover prescription drug coverage for seniors.'" (Chinta Strausberg, "Obama To Bush: 'Fix Up U.S. Budget First,'" Chicago Defender, 4/15/03)

MYTH #6: Barack Obama Says He Will "Be As Careful Getting Out Of Iraq As We Were Careless Getting In"

MYTH: Barack Obama Writes That He Will "Be As Careful Getting Out Of Iraq As We Were Careless Getting In." "As I've said many times, we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in." (Barack Obama, Op-Ed, "My Plan For Iraq," The New York Times, 7/14/08)

FACT: But Barack Obama Recently Said That The Withdrawal Would Not Be "Perfectly Neat" And It Would Be A "Messy Affair."

· Barack Obama Said That The Withdrawal Of U.S. Forces From Iraq Won't Be "Perfectly Neat." "'I don't expect that a withdrawal will be perfectly neat,' Obama said. 'I think that we've got to do a lot of legwork and we've got to make sure that we are ramping up both diplomatic efforts and reconstruction efforts and humanitarian efforts in Iraq, and that we have to make sure that Sunnis have some assurance that they're going to be legitimate partners in the government process.'" (Glen Johnson, "Obama Says 'Little Doubt' Country In Recession," The Associated Press, 7/13/08)

· Barack Obama Said Iraq Would Be A "Messy Affair." Obama: "Now, the last point I would make on this is, this is going to be a messy affair. There's no elegant and easy solutions to what I believe has been an enormous strategic blunder by this administration." (CNN's "GPS," 7/13/08)

MYTH #7: Barack Obama Would Leave A "Residual Force" For "Limited Missions"

MYTH: Barack Obama Writes That He Would Leave A Force In Iraq For "Limited Missions." "After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal." (Barack Obama, Op-Ed, "My Plan For Iraq," The New York Times, 7/14/08)

FACT: Barack Obama's "Residual Force" Could Be As Many As 80,000 Troops In Iraq.

· The New York Sun Reported That A Key Adviser To Obama Is Recommending That 60,000 To 80,000 Troops Remain In Iraq As Late As 2010. "A key adviser to Senator Obama's campaign is recommending in a confidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office." (Eli Lake, "Obama Adviser Calls For 60,000-80,000 U.S. Troops To Stay In Iraq Through 2010," The New York Sun, 4/4/08)

· Barack Obama Would Not Say How Many Troops He Would Keep In Iraq. CNN's Fareed Zakaria: "But you could imagine a situation where, if the Iraqi government wanted it, 30,000 American troops are still in Iraq 10 years from now." Obama: "You know, I have been very careful not to put numbers on what a residual force would look like." (CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS," 7/13/08)

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