Did You Hear the One About When Harry Reid Won the Iraq War? - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Did You Hear the One About When Harry Reid Won the Iraq War?

A reader passes along this shameless exchange from “Meet the Press”:

MR. GREGORY: Let me ask you about the war in Iraq.  In April of 2007, this is what you said: “I believe myself that … this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything.” Were you wrong?

SEN. REID: David, I first met General David Petraeus in Iraq.  He was training the Iraqi forces at that time.  At that time, he knew it wasn’t working.  After he became the commander in Iraq, he and I sat down and talked. He said to me, and he said within the sound of everyone’s voice, “The war cannot be won militarily.” I said it differently than he did.  But it needed a change in direction.  Petraeus brought that about.  He brought it about–the surge helped, of course it helped.  But in addition to that, the urging of me and other people in Congress and the country dictated a change, and that took place.  So…

MR. GREGORY: But you said the surge was not accomplishing anything.  Even Barack Obama said last fall that it exceeded everyone’s expectations and succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.

SEN. REID: Listen, at that–the time that statement was made, the surge–they weren’t talking about the surge.  Petraeus added to the surge some very, very interesting things that changed things.  He said a lot–just simply numbers of troops is not going to do the deal.  What we need to do is work with the Iraqi people, which we haven’t done before.  That’s where the Awakening Councils came about, as a result of David Petraeus’ genius.  He’s done–he will be written about in the history books for years to come.  My original statement was in keeping what David Petraeus said; that is, the war cannot be won militarily.

With the possible exception of the sentence, “I first met General David Petraeus in Iraq,” everything that Reid says is contradicted by history.

When Petraeus said the war couldn’t be won militarily, he meant that the war couldn’t be won with military action alone, but only with a more comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy that involved working with local tribal leaders as well as using diplomacy to improve the political situation. When Reid said the war was lost, he meant the war was lost … and that we should withdraw troops from Iraq. Reid and the Democrats did want a change in direction, but that change in direction was supposed to be withdrawal, not the surge, which they referred to as an “escalation” and fiercely opposed.

Yesterday Reid said that, “at that–the time that statement was made, the surge–they weren’t talking about the surge” — but the surge was proposed in January of 2007, and was already underway when Reid made his statement in April of 2007. In fact, Reid’s statement was, “I believe … that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week.”

And Reid is right that simply adding more troops wasn’t sufficient to do the job, but they were still necessary to implement the overall strategy.

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