Wash. Post falsely claimed "three leading Democrats" in presidential race have "refus[ed] ... to acknowledge the indisputable military progress" in Iraq

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

Even though Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards have all acknowledged that the U.S. military has made progress in reducing the violence in Iraq, a Washington Post editorial asserted that "[t]he refusal of the [three leading Democratic presidential] candidates to acknowledge the indisputable military progress of the past year is troubling."

A January 27 Washington Post editorial stated that "[t]he refusal of the [three leading Democratic presidential] candidates to acknowledge the indisputable military progress of the past year is troubling," However, contrary to the Post's claim that the three leading Democrats have "refus[ed] ... to acknowledge the indisputable military progress" in Iraq, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), and former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) each have acknowledged that the U.S. military has made progress in reducing the violence in Iraq.

During the January 21 Democratic presidential candidates debate in South Carolina, sponsored by CNN, Clinton asserted, "Of course the surge, the so-called surge, was able to pacify certain parts of Iraq," and added, "If we put enough of our men and women and equipment in, we're going to be able to have some tactical military success. But the whole purpose of the surge was to force the Iraqi government to move quickly towards the kind of resolution that only it can bring about."

During the January 6 CNN/WMUR/Facebook debate, Obama stated, "I had no doubt, and I said at the time, when I opposed the surge, that given how wonderfully our troops perform, if we place 30,000 more troops in there, then we would see an improvement in the security situation and we would see a reduction in the violence." He added, "But understand, we started in 2006 with intolerable levels of violence and a dysfunctional government. We saw a spike in the violence, the surge reduced that violence, and we now are, two years later, back where we started two years ago."

In an interview with The New York Times, published January 1, Edwards acknowledged that "we have had some diminution in violence--no doubt about that." Edwards first explained that he placed greater empahsis on political progress, claiming, "My judgment is that the critical component is not military. The critical component is political." He continued: "Even Bush said when he proposed the surge that the purpose for the surge was to create a security environment that would allow some serious security progress. Well, we have had some diminution in violence -- no doubt about that -- I think in part because Baghdad is largely a Shia city now, and the ethnic groups have been segregated. But, the bottom line is that there has been some diminution in violence and still there has been absolutely no political progress."

From the January 27 Washington Post editorial:

On some issues, the three leading Democrats are almost equally disappointing. On certain topics -- among them trade, school accountability and, most disturbingly, Iraq -- facts and reason have given way to vote-seeking ideology. The refusal of the candidates to acknowledge the indisputable military progress of the past year is troubling; even more so are their suggestions that they would withdraw most or all U.S. troops from Iraq within a year regardless of the circumstances or consequences. They speak as if this strategic, even pivotal Middle East nation, with the world's second-largest oil reserves, can simply be written off, as if a war that they regard as wrong has somehow made Iraq unimportant to U.S. security.

From the January 21 CNN Democratic presidential debate:

CLINTON: Of course the surge, the so-called surge, was able to pacify certain parts of Iraq. If we put enough of our men and women and equipment in, we're going to be able to have some tactical military success. But the whole purpose of the surge was to force the Iraqi government to move quickly towards the kind of resolution that only it can bring about.

I think what is motivating the Iraqi government is the debate in the political campaign here. They know they will no longer have a blank check from George Bush, that I will with draw troops from Iraq. And I believe that will put even more pressure on the Iraqis to finally make the decisions that they have to make.

From the January 6 CNN/WMUR/Facebook debate:

OBAMA: Now, I had no doubt, and I said at the time, when I opposed the surge, that given how wonderfully our troops perform, if we place 30,000 more troops in there, then we would see an improvement in the security situation and we would see a reduction in the violence. But understand, we started in 2006 with intolerable levels of violence and a dysfunctional government. We saw a spike in the violence, the surge reduced that violence, and we now are, two years later, back where we started two years ago. We have gone full circle at enormous cost to the American people.

What we have to do is to begin a phased redeployment to send a clear signal to the Iraqi government that we are not going to be there in perpetuity. Now, it will -- we should be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. I welcome the genuine reductions of violence that have taken place. Although, I would point out, that much of that violence has been reduced because there was an agreement with tribes in Anbar province, Sunni tribes, who started to see, after the Democrats were elected in 2006, "You know what, the Americans may be leaving soon, and we are going to be left very vulnerable to the Shias. We should start negotiating now." That's how you change behavior.

And that's why I will send a clear signal to the Iraqi government. They will have ample time to get their act together, to actually pass an oil law, which has been -- they've been talking about now for years.

They will actually be able to conduct de-Baathification. We will support them in all of those efforts. But what we can't do is to continue to ignore the enormous strains that this has placed on the American taxpayer as well as the anti-American sentiment that it is fanning and the neglect that's happening in Afghanistan as a consequence.

From an interview with Edwards published January 1 in The New York Times:

Q. One of the most comprehensive studies on this was done in September by General Jim Jones.

A. I know General Jones.

Q. And he looked at this and said the Iraqi security forces cannot stand entirely on their own in the next twelve to eighteen months and that for the foreseeable future they would depend on air support, logistics, intelligence -- these sorts of enablers that are provided by the Americans. Wouldn't your plan essentially pull the rug out from underneath the nascent Iraqi security force while we are trying to transfer more responsibility onto their shoulders?

A. I think it is a fair question. My judgment is that the critical component is not military. The critical component is political. Even Bush said when he proposed the surge that the purpose for the surge was to create a security environment that would allow some serious security progress. Well, we have had some diminution in violence -- no doubt about that -- I think in part because Baghdad is largely a Shia city now, and the ethnic groups have been segregated. But, the bottom line is that there has been some diminution in violence and still there has been absolutely no political progress. And the reason is because America continues to stay there and prop up these political leaders who are making no serious effort to make progress.

The fundamental tenet of the way I examine and make policy judgments, which is the job of the president, under these circumstances is that is not my job to make day-to-day military decisions on the ground. It is my job is to set the policy priorities, and I believe is that the correct policy framework is that what we have been doing is not working. We have to shift the responsibility to them.

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