Obama Succeeds Most When He Does Least

While on the domestic front President Obama seems to be driving America deeper into a ditch, he had a success in Iraq when he was able to keep a campaign promise to draw down U.S. forces there by the end of August 2010.

For the record, Obama is actually late a few months. During the 2008 campaign, he said U.S. combat troops would be home sixteen months after he came into office. Last I checked, Obama has been in office for more than nineteen months. This little discrepancy can be smoothed out, considering that after a few weeks in office and after getting a first-hand look from the generals, Obama publicly set the (new) date to August 31, 2010. This date was indeed kept.

Kudos to Obama. But how was he able to do it?

Simple: By staying out of Iraq and letting the military to its job!

You see, with the economy, for example, Obama took ownership of it before he even took office -- by asking Congress to release the second half of TARP, and then signing the Stimulus less than a month after taking office. In addition, Obama's steps in banking, autos, mortgages, and so on gave him even more ownership of the economy with each passing day. Therefore, the ongoing mess is Obama's fault just as the credit would have been his if anything had worked for the good. (Obama doesn't get credit for GM's recent gains, since Ford without a bailout had a second quarter twice as profitable as GM's, while the bailed out Chrysler was still on a loss in the second quarter).

Iraq, however, is a different story.

Obama didn't change any course from what President Bush approved with his surge in 2007. The same Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, who was there when the Obama-opposed troop surge started was there when it ended. Generals on the ground with experience -- not inexperienced neophytes from Chicago -- led the mission and did what they saw fit, with Obama nodding his head in agreement.

Granted, I don't recall Bush making any pledges as to when troops' draw-down would take place. But the surge was intended to root out the insurgents, restore Iraq to a more peaceful state, and permit the military to dramatically cut back its presence. I doubt that supporters of the surge thought that the surge was a status that would be kept for an endless number of years. It was bound to end -- in success -- sooner or later.

During 2008, when the media focused on the presidential elections and the American economy, things in Iraq started changing for the better. This is likely the reason why the media dropped the Iraq story in the first place. Obama, as a new president, basically presided over a plan that took shape and produced results before he even took office, and -- due to its ongoing success -- Obama smartly decided that it would be best for him to mostly stay out of it and let it draw to an end as results on the ground permitted.

Obama deserves credit for staying out of and away from the Iraq mission. Where Obama may, however, go wrong is to think that "the war is ending," as he said on August 28 in his weekly radio address. The fact is that this war isn't over yet. A lot of work is still needed there, and if Obama will not get an understanding of it, he may place military generals in a position to destroy a success that was in the making before Obama set foot into the Oval Office.
While on the domestic front President Obama seems to be driving America deeper into a ditch, he had a success in Iraq when he was able to keep a campaign promise to draw down U.S. forces there by the end of August 2010.

For the record, Obama is actually late a few months. During the 2008 campaign, he said U.S. combat troops would be home sixteen months after he came into office. Last I checked, Obama has been in office for more than nineteen months. This little discrepancy can be smoothed out, considering that after a few weeks in office and after getting a first-hand look from the generals, Obama publicly set the (new) date to August 31, 2010. This date was indeed kept.

Kudos to Obama. But how was he able to do it?

Simple: By staying out of Iraq and letting the military to its job!

You see, with the economy, for example, Obama took ownership of it before he even took office -- by asking Congress to release the second half of TARP, and then signing the Stimulus less than a month after taking office. In addition, Obama's steps in banking, autos, mortgages, and so on gave him even more ownership of the economy with each passing day. Therefore, the ongoing mess is Obama's fault just as the credit would have been his if anything had worked for the good. (Obama doesn't get credit for GM's recent gains, since Ford without a bailout had a second quarter twice as profitable as GM's, while the bailed out Chrysler was still on a loss in the second quarter).

Iraq, however, is a different story.

Obama didn't change any course from what President Bush approved with his surge in 2007. The same Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, who was there when the Obama-opposed troop surge started was there when it ended. Generals on the ground with experience -- not inexperienced neophytes from Chicago -- led the mission and did what they saw fit, with Obama nodding his head in agreement.

Granted, I don't recall Bush making any pledges as to when troops' draw-down would take place. But the surge was intended to root out the insurgents, restore Iraq to a more peaceful state, and permit the military to dramatically cut back its presence. I doubt that supporters of the surge thought that the surge was a status that would be kept for an endless number of years. It was bound to end -- in success -- sooner or later.

During 2008, when the media focused on the presidential elections and the American economy, things in Iraq started changing for the better. This is likely the reason why the media dropped the Iraq story in the first place. Obama, as a new president, basically presided over a plan that took shape and produced results before he even took office, and -- due to its ongoing success -- Obama smartly decided that it would be best for him to mostly stay out of it and let it draw to an end as results on the ground permitted.

Obama deserves credit for staying out of and away from the Iraq mission. Where Obama may, however, go wrong is to think that "the war is ending," as he said on August 28 in his weekly radio address. The fact is that this war isn't over yet. A lot of work is still needed there, and if Obama will not get an understanding of it, he may place military generals in a position to destroy a success that was in the making before Obama set foot into the Oval Office.