Eight members of the Vets for Freedom organization have written an excellent opinion piece published in the Washington Times discussing Senator Obama's trip to Afghanistan and Iraq. I highly recommend reading it. In it the authors note how their organization (the largest group of veterans from both Afghanistan and Iraq) urged Senator Obama to visit the war zone and talk to both leadership and troops "on the ground" before deciding his policies on the War Against Terror. Senator Obama gave in to the pressure from Vets for Freedom and other organizations and took the trip overseas. Unfortunately, he finalized his policies about the War and announced them in a major speech before he talked to the experts. While his presumption that he (and his advisers and monied sponsors) know better than those leading and fighting the war is bad enough, it is his actions after the visit that is most troubling. As the Vets for Freedom op-ed says,
After months of furiously denying that security was improving in Iraq, Mr. Obama now acknowledges that a remarkable turnaround took place under the surge -- and yet bizarrely, he continues to insist that he was right to oppose the surge and that, if given the chance, he would do so again.
Mr. Obama likewise at last acknowledges that our military commanders on the ground in Iraq oppose the fixed and arbitrary timeline for withdrawal he wants to impose and they say doing so would be "extremely dangerous" -- and yet he continues to insist that he will impose it on them anyway.
Most frustrating of all, Mr. Obama says that he thinks our troops have performed admirably in Iraq -- and yet he and his surrogates continue to downplay their sacrifices by suggesting at every opportunity that the hard-won gains we see in Iraq are not due to their efforts, and indeed, would have materialized in their absence.
In my opinion, Senator Obama's troubling refusal to acknowledge that he just might have been wrong about the surge strategy, and in fact about the overall effort in Iraq, is just another example of his lack of leadership and judgment. A good leader will gather the facts before making exercising their judgment and making decisions. A good leader will constantly assess their decisions and will acknowledge their mistakes. A good leader will work to correct mistakes they've made and will "adjust fire" when necessary. I don't see any of these traits in Senator Obama.
The Vets for Freedom organization plans on sending 8 Iraqi War veterans back to Iraq to ask the questions Senator Obama should have asked. They will return to the Iraqi cities where they previously served to do a "before-and-after assessment from the ground." What a wonderful idea! Why didn't Senator Obama think to listen to people who have "been there; done that" to see what has changed and determine whether the change has been for the better before he decided what policies he would announce(whether those policies are designed to get him elected or whether they are formulated to actually serve the country remains to be seen). Again, his inability to seek information from those who could realistically give it shows why he would not be a good President. The Vets for Freedom organization says that "America's veterans, their families and those still serving deserve honest answers to...difficult and complex questions." I agree. Senator Obama needs to hear them as well.....
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