President Obama’s speech on Iraq was a disappointment. Not a surprise, but a disappointment.
It was disappointing because it was yet another missed opportunity. He could have shown real statesmanship by acknowledging he was wrong about the surge. He could have reached across the aisle and credited Republicans who backed the policy he vigorously opposed and tried to thwart, a policy that has made it possible (but by no means certain) to hope for a responsible end to the Iraq war. He could have have told the truth about his Iraq strategy, that what he has pursued thus far has not been what he was arguing for in the campaign — that would have involved the departure of all U.S. troops by mid 2008 — but rather he has followed, in a more or less desultory fashion, a script written in the status of forces agreement negotiated by President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki.
Instead of giving such a speech, Obama gave a campaign address trying to claim credit for anything that is going well in Iraq and trying to avoid blame for anything that is going poorly. That may be shrewd campaign politics, but it is not the statesmanship the occasion warranted. The commander-in-chief missed an opportunity, and I worry that it will come back to haunt us.
–Peter Feaver. He’s quite right, of course.