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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Obama and the Surge

I was very pleased that Bill O'Reilly managed to land an interview last week with Barack Obama. I am a big fan of the O'Reilly Factor and Fox News. While I admit Fox News clearly has a slant to the right, I think it well counters the opposing slant to the left found in pretty much all other television news organizations. And I think Bill O'Reilly in particular is a good journalist who puts getting a good story above his own biases.

Such is the case with his Obama interview. We've only seen part of it, as the rest will be aired this week. However, the segment we did get to see dealt with the war in Iraq. It got some press that O'Reilly got Obama to concede that the "surge" has worked better than he expected.

That's a good concession that O'Reilly attained. And it's hard to argue with that statement. However, Bill also tried to get Barack to go a little further and admit he had made a mistake opposing the surge.

This is mostly semantics. Obama would not. However, like Bill O'Reilly himself, I would have given Barack a lot of credit if he took a more clearly-defined position here. The surge has worked. I was against it myself, but I cannot argue with the results that I've seen lately. And shame on the media for not following the story more closely. Our military deserves better.

However, there is no shame in admitting now that we doubted the surge would work 18 months ago. I think Bill O'Reilly is right that the American people would be impressed if Obama said something like, "I may have been wrong on the surge, but I was right on the war, and I'll be right for America when I'm president." I think we still admire such a balance of humility and strength, rather than avoiding the issue with a murky lukewarm stance.

If anything, I think the success of the surge will cause history to view the Bush-led war more critically. SecDef Donald Rumsfeld tried to fight a war with as light of a footprint as possible. The surge proved that the mere addition of 30,000 troops, a new strategy, and a new commander was all it took to achieve victory in Iraq, after it seemed impossible for so long.

What a shame that over 4,000 Americans had to die because the Pentagon could not realize this back in 2003, 2004, 2005, or even 2006. It shouldn't have taken 4 bloody years and hundreds of billions of dollars to learn that lesson.

But it did. Let's all learn it. Move on from Iraq and do a better job in the future.

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