A few days before President Bush announced the surge on January 10, 2007, Joe Biden warned: "If he surges another 20, 30 [thousand], or whatever number he's going to, into Baghdad, it'll be a tragic mistake." Barack Obama echoed Biden's remarks on January 10, saying: "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq are going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse." Nine months later on September 11, 2007, Biden and Obama questioned General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker at a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The two senators made no secret of their belief that the surge had failed; the progress achieved was "modest" and did not justify continuing the surge for another six months. Here's what Biden told Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker (emphasis mine):
In announcing the surge, President Bush said his primary purpose was just that -- to buy time for a political settlement to emerge in Baghdad. And so, from my perspective, the most important questions we have to ask are these: Are we any closer to a lasting political settlement in Iraq at the national level today than we were when the surge began eight months ago? And if we continue the surge for another six months, is there any evidence that the Sunnis, the Shi'a and the Kurds will stop killing each other and start governing together? In my judgment, I must tell you, based on my experience and my observation here as well as in country, the answer to both those questions is no. ... If we killed or captured every jihadist in Iraq tomorrow, we would still face a major sectarian war that is pitting Iraqis' future against our interest. The fact of the matter is that American lives remain in jeopardy, and as I said, if every single jihadi in the world was killed tomorrow, we still have a major, major war on our hands. Second, in continuing the surge of forces for another six months, is that likely to change that reality? The conclusion I've reached is no. The surge, for whatever tactical or temporary security gains it might achieve, is at the service of a fundamentally flawed strategy, and that strategy is, the administration continues to believe that we can achieve political progress in Iraq by building a strong national unity government in Baghdad that secures the trust of the Iraqi people. In my view, gentlemen, I don't think that's going to happen in the lifetime of any of us. ... We should stop the surge and start bringing our troops home. We should end a political strategy in Iraq that cannot succeed and begin one that can.
Here's Obama (emphasis mine):
And so I think that some of the frustration you hear from some of the questioners is that we have now set the bar so low that modest improvement in what was a completely chaotic situation, to the point where now we just have the levels of intolerable violence that existed in June of 2006, is considered success. And it's not. This continues to be a disastrous foreign policy mistake. ... we have the president in Australia suggesting somehow that we are, as was stated before, kicking A-S-S. How can that -- how can we have a president making that assessment? And it makes it very difficult then for those of us who would like to join with you in a bipartisan way to figure out how to best move forward to extricate this from the day-to-day politics that infects Washington. So I just wanted to get that on the record. Final stipulation: I think the surge has had some impact, as I've suggested. I would hope it would, given the sacrifices and loss that have been made. I would argue that the impact has been relatively modest, given the investment. And I have to say that based on my (sic) testimony, it is not clear to me that the primary success that you've shown, in Anbar, has anything to do with the surge.
Now, a year later, Senators Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman have sponsored a resolution that "recognizes the strategic success achieved by the surge in Iraq and expresses our gratitude to the brave men and women in uniform who made that success possible." Will Biden and Obama support this resolution, now that they aren't running for the Democratic presidential nomination? If they don't, does that mean that they're too afraid to offend the MoveOn.org crowd? Or do they honestly believe that the impact of the surge has been "relatively modest" and not a success?
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