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HUNTER: President’s phony Iraq claim not up for debate

Voted against war-ending surge

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"I ended the war in Iraq" is now a standard claim by President Obama. He makes the assertion in every debate and public appearance.

The claim is wrong. It's phony, and it's made by a politician who tried relentlessly to block America's most successful strategic operation of the war: the "surge." On Feb. 5, 2007, and a few weeks later on Feb. 17, Sen. Obama voted against the surge.

Among military analysts and historians, the surge of 20,000 additional troops into Iraq during the spring of 2007 is credited with reducing attacks on American troops and sectarian violence by 70 percent. The surge stabilized Baghdad and gave breathing room to the fledgling government of Iraq. Moreover, behind the security shield of the surge, schools and businesses reopened and neighborhoods began to function.

The surge worked despite the dire predictions of Mr. Obama, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton when they voted against it.

The surge was first announced by President Bush on Jan. 10, 2007. Having lost his majority in Congress in the November 2006 electoral drubbing and with his approval rating bouncing along the floor, Mr. Bush was expected to throw in the towel on Iraq. Instead, he announced the "surging" of five brigades to Iraq. These 20,000 additional troops, deployed at the rate of one brigade per month from February to June 2007, were intended to bring security to Baghdad where Shiite and Sunni militias had turned the neighborhoods into no man's land.

When Mr. Bush announced the surge, liberals were incensed. Mr. Biden rushed to the Senate floor and offered Senate Resolution No. 2 disapproving of the surge strategy. Mr. Obama, Mr. Biden and Mrs. Clinton voted twice against the surge on resolutions of disapproval (S.470 on Feb. 5, 2007, and S.574 on Feb. 17, 2007).

Nine months later, reporting to Congress and the American people on the success of the surge, Gen. David H. Petraeus announced that attacks on Americans and casualties were down 70 percent.

The good news silenced Mr. Obama, Mr. Biden and Mrs. Clinton on the issue as they forged ahead on the presidential campaign trail. The surge proved to be a massive success. Casualties stayed down, the shaky Baghdad government held on and the Iraqi army, trained by the United States, matured.

By the end of 2008, the war was won. In that year, before Mr. Obama took office, more Americans were killed in his hometown of Chicago (509) than were killed in Iraq (314).

The surge was America's touchdown pass in Iraq. Mr. Obama tried to block it. Now he claims that he "ended the Iraq War." The 1.4 million American troops who did end the Iraq War, by winning it despite Mr. Obama's opposition, should rebut his phony claim. In early November, at the polls, they will get their chance.

Duncan L. Hunter, former chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, is author of "Victory in Iraq" (Genesis Press, 2010).

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