Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Obama Tacitly Concedes: The Surge Was a Success

From the New York Times:
President-elect Barack Obama has decided to keep Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in his post... [It] will be the first time a Pentagon chief has been carried over from a president of a different party...

Some advisers worried that the decision to turn to a Republican appointee... would reinforce the notion that Democrats could not manage the military. “It makes them look like they’re too wimpy to be trusted to run the building,” said one adviser who asked not to be named.

Keeping Mr. Gates after a polarizing campaign on the war also seemed incongruous to some. “I really can’t begin to understand from a political point of view how Barack Obama, a person who got the nomination because he ran against the Iraq war, can keep around the guy who’s been in charge of it for the last two years,” said Loren B. Thompson, head of the Lexington Institute, a research organization.
However, Pejman Yousefzadeh sees things a little differently:
I have to believe that if Barack Obama did not actually believe that the surge overseen by Secretary Gates really has been successful, he would not have consented to keep the Secretary on. By agreeing to retain Secretary Gates at the Pentagon, the President-elect has not-too-subtly endorsed the very surge and counterinsurgency efforts he spent time denouncing on the campaign trail.

One wishes that he would finally admit as much.... I think it is finally safe for him to say that when it came to figuring out what to do in Iraq, President Bush, Secretary Gates, General Petraeus and Senator McCain were right . . . and Barack Obama was wrong.

Barring such a verbal admission, I suppose that we will have to take this reappointment of Secretary Gates to constitute the closest thing to an admission of error the President-elect can bring himself to offer the rest of the country....


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