- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 1, 2011

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said the Obama administration is “not claiming victory” in Iraq. That’s good, because the administration had nothing to do with it.

Mr. Biden made the comment on Thursday’s “Today Show,” the same day he attended the ceremonial lowering of the American flag at Camp Victory near Basra, Iraq. The Iraqi government was paying tribute to the sacrifices made by U.S.-led coalition forces over the eight-year war. Had it been up to Mr. Biden or Barack Obama, the United States would have left the Iraqis to their fate years ago.

Mr. Biden, who had helped shepherd the Iraq war authorization through the Senate in the fall of 2002, had given up on the effort by 2007. “In a world this dangerous, with a crisis as tough as Iraq, hard truths need to be told,” a Biden for President campaign advertisement intoned. “Joe Biden says this war must end now.” Mr. Biden had no faith in the “surge” strategy being implemented by Gen. David Petraeus. “I really respect him,” Mr. Biden said, “and I think he’s dead flat wrong … the surge has failed.” He predicted that “if we do not change course in Iraq soon, you’re going to see, two years from now, helicopters hovering over our embassy in the Green Zone in Baghdad with people hanging [onto] the ladders just like Vietnam. Mark my words.”

At the advent of the surge strategy in January 2007, then-Sen. Obama predicted that deploying additional troops would actually worsen sectarian violence. He claimed that he did not “know any expert on the region or any military officer that [he had] spoken to privately that believes that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground.” As the surge strategy began to show positive impact Mr. Obama doubled down on defeatist rhetoric. “The time to end the surge and to start bringing our troops home is now,” he declared in September 2007, “not six months from now. [I] can only support a policy that begins an immediate removal of our troops from Iraq’s civil war and initiates a sustained drawdown of our military presence.”

Thankfully, the two senators were wholly wrong about Iraq. President George W. Bush stayed the course despite shortsighted Democratic political resistance. Thankfully, once in office Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden resisted their impulse to cut and run, executing the successful plan that they had inherited from Mr. Bush.

There are good reasons to declare Operation Iraqi Freedom a victory. The four causes of war - Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, his armed aggression against his neighbors, his human rights violations and his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction - have been resolved. Al Qaeda has been driven from the country and sectarian violence quelled. A functioning democracy has been erected, and there’s a good chance it will continue. The United States has achieved victory in Iraq, and the least the White House could do is thank the man primarily responsible, George W. Bush.

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