In WSJ column, Rove falsely claimed Obama "flip-flop[ped]" on his Iraq policy

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

Karl Rove falsely asserted in his Wall Street Journal column that Sen. Barack Obama has "flip-flop[ped]" on his Iraq policy with regards to leaving a residual U.S. force in Iraq and its mission. In fact, Obama has not "changed" or "shifted" his position on the existence and purpose of residual U.S. forces in Iraq.

In his July 24 Wall Street Journal column, Karl Rove falsely asserted that Sen. Barack Obama has "flip-flop[ped]" on the issue of leaving a residual U.S. force in Iraq upon the withdrawal of most troops from Iraq. In fact, Obama has not "changed" or "shifted" his position on the existence and purpose of residual U.S. forces in Iraq, as Rove alleged.

Rove wrote:

Then there is Iraq. Throughout 2006 and early 2007, Mr. Obama pledged to remove all U.S. troops, even voting to immediately cut off funds for the troops while they were in combat. Then, in July 2007, he started talking about leaving a residual U.S. force, in Kuwait and elsewhere in the region, able to go back into Iraq if needed.

By October, he shifted again, pledging to station the residual U.S. troops inside Iraq with two "limited missions of protecting our diplomats and carrying out targeted strikes on al Qaeda."

Last week, writing in the New York Times, Mr. Obama changed again. He increased the missions his residual force would perform to three: "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."

But contrary to Rove's assertion that "[t]hroughout 2006 and early 2007, Mr. Obama pledged to remove all U.S. troops" from Iraq but "in July 2007 began talking about leaving a residual U.S. force," Obama actually introduced the Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007 in January of that year, which would have "allow[ed] for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain as basic force protection, to engage in counter-terrorism, and to continue the training of Iraqi security forces." Moreover, Rove's assertion that Obama in his New York Times op-ed "increased the missions his residual force would perform to three" is false. Indeed, the Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007 outlined four "missions" for the residual U.S. force:

[P]ersonnel of the Armed Forces of the United States may be in Iraq after the completion of the redeployment of the Armed Forces under this section for the following purposes:

(A) To protect United States personnel and facilities in Iraq.

(B) To conduct targeted counter-terrorism operations.

(C) To provide training for Iraqi security forces.

(D) To conduct the routine functions of the Office of Defense Attache.

In a January 30, 2007, floor statement introducing the bill, Obama said: "My plan allows for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain as basic force protection, to engage in counter-terrorism, and to continue the training of Iraqi security forces."

In his column, Rove also asserted that "Sen. Obama has shifted recently on ... whether the Iranian Quds Force is a terrorist group." In fact, Obama co-sponsored the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007 in March 2007, a bill that would have designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, of which the Quds Force is a special unit, a terrorist group.

From Rove's July 24 Wall Street Journal column:

At least Mr. McCain fesses up to and explains his changes. Sen. Obama has shifted recently on public financing, free trade, Nafta, welfare reform, the D.C. gun ban, whether the Iranian Quds Force is a terrorist group, immunity for telecom companies participating in the Terrorist Surveillance Program, the status of Jerusalem, flag lapel pins, and disavowing Rev. Jeremiah Wright. And not only does he refuse to explain these flip-flops, he acts as if they never occurred.

Then there is Iraq. Throughout 2006 and early 2007, Mr. Obama pledged to remove all U.S. troops, even voting to immediately cut off funds for the troops while they were in combat. Then, in July 2007, he started talking about leaving a residual U.S. force, in Kuwait and elsewhere in the region, able to go back into Iraq if needed.

By October, he shifted again, pledging to station the residual U.S. troops inside Iraq with two "limited missions of protecting our diplomats and carrying out targeted strikes on al Qaeda."

Last week, writing in the New York Times, Mr. Obama changed again. He increased the missions his residual force would perform to three: "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's not all that different from what U.S. troops are doing now.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
Wall Street Journal
Person
Karl Rove
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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