August 31st, 2010
05:44 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama not planning to credit Bush over Iraq 'surge'

President Obama will not give credit to George W. Bush for the 2007 surge in Iraq.
President Obama will not give credit to George W. Bush for the 2007 surge in Iraq.

Washington (CNN) –In his Oval Office address on Iraq Tuesday night, President Obama is planning to ignore Republican suggestions that he acknowledge a personal mistake and give credit to former President George W. Bush for executing the 2007 surge of troops over the objections of Obama and other Democratic senators at the time, according to two senior administration officials familiar with the speech.

The officials added that during the speech marking the end of combat operation in Iraq the President will also address the economic crisis in America by talking about how restoring prosperity at home is critical to maintaining the nation's strength abroad, which Obama alluded to back in May at a commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

"Simply put, American innovation must be the foundation of American power - because at no time in human history has a nation of diminished economic vitality maintained its military and political primacy," Obama said in the May commencement address. "And so that means that the civilians among us, as parents and community leaders, elected officials, business leaders, we have a role to play. We cannot leave it to those in uniform to defend this country - we have to make sure that America is building on its strengths."

Senior administration officials say the President wants his Iraq address to be more forward-looking and thus is not planning to spend any time in the 15-20 minute speech looking backward on the divisive 2007 Congressional debate over whether Bush should surge more troops into Iraq.

Ignoring a replay of that 2007 debate could be political advantageous for Obama given the fact that top Republicans like House Minority Leader John Boehner early blasted the President for opposing the surge.

"One lawmaker rejected the idea that the surge would reduce violence in Iraq, saying - and again I'm quoting - 'in fact, I think it will do the reverse,'" the Ohio Republican said in reference to Obama during a speech to the American Legion convention in Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a speech suggesting Bush deserves more credit for reaching this milestone.

"You might recall that the surge wasn't very popular when it was announced," said the Republican from Kentucky. "You might also recall that one of its biggest critics was the current president. So it makes it easier to talk about fulfilling a campaign promise to wind down our operations in Iraq when the previous administration signs the security agreement with Iraq to end our overall presence there."

Asked about the Republican attacks on Obama, one senior administration official said flatly: "Who cares?"

This official explained the President is more interested in focusing on acknowledging the combat mission is coming to an end and thanking U.S. troops for their hard work to "show the world America has the determination to finish the job" after a long conflict.

A second senior administration official added the President wants to use the address in part to turn the nation's attention to ratcheting up combat operations in Afghanistan. This official noted Obama spent a lot of time during the 2008 campaign vowing not only to bring home combat troops in Iraq within 16 months of taking office, but also said he wanted to finally give Afghanistan the resources it needed.

"This is what he promised in the campaign: responsibly ending the war in Iraq, and then using our resources to bring the fight directly to al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan," said the senior official.

During a visit with U.S. troops at Ft. Bliss in Texas earlier on Tuesday, Obama signaled he will spend a good chunk of his speech preparing the nation for heavier casualties and "heartbreak" in Afghanistan in the days ahead as new commanding Gen. David Petraeus takes the fight directly to the enemy.

"We also have a very tough fight in Afghanistan," Obama said. "It's going to be a tough slog."


Filed under: Iraq • issues • President George W. Bush • President Obama
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. Joel

    Why should Obama give him credit for one right decision among numerous wrong ones, mainly the way that Iraq spiraled out of control when we dispersed their army and let citizens start to kill each other. What a brutal error by Rumsfeld et al. So Bush finally made a decision that cleaned up his own mess albeit 7 years later. How much credit does Bush deserve???

    August 31, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    President Obama has an ongoing war in Afghan where the only war should have been, there is no reason to give Bush praise for a lie and a mistake of the Iraq war. President Obama probably talked to Bush about the changes made in the Oval Office and no more.

    August 31, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  3. An Incovenient Truth

    There are many uninformed [I won't say stupid] posters on the CNN political blog.

    The "SURGE" ... as portrayed as some perfectly, strategically timed addition of troops and specialized equipment is a myth.

    The primary reason that violence in Iraq decreased when it did was that the United States government began paying the mercenary Iraqis that previously had been fighting against us.

    We gave them an alternative to being employed by al Queda and Islamic terrorists. That's what reduced the violence ... not some pumped up view of American military might.

    I'm sure the additional American muscle can't be ignored but when ranking the ROOT CAUSE CORRECTIVE ACTION ... our payments of dollars to our opposition can not be ignored.

    August 31, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  4. No Way Joe

    How can Obama credit Bush for the surge, he was against it.

    August 31, 2010 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  5. Augsbee

    Wait!! did I just hear CNN say Obama congratulates the soldiers for the fine job they did in Iraq and making the U.S. more secure??? yet he plans to ignore Bush who put the soldiers in Iraq??? how dumb, dumb, dumb can you get??????? if Bush hadn't put the soldiers in Iraq, the USA wouldn't be more secure!!!! Dumb, dumb, dumb!!!!

    August 31, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  6. Patsy, Texas

    He can give credit to Bush & Co. for the surge, which would not have
    worked without the Sunni awakening, which would not have been
    necessary if Bush & Co had told the truth about why he decided to
    wage an unprecedented pre-emptive strike (first in United States
    history) against a Country that had nothing to do with 9-11, thereby
    abandoning Afghanistan, a Country that housed the terrorists, which
    has now led us back to Afghanistan to finish the job that Bush & Co.
    failed to do. They can also take credit for the 4400 American lives
    lost, the "supplemental" war costs that increased the deficit three-fold.
    Then Boehner, McConnell, Cheney, etc. can all go take a flying leap
    into the pile of money they made from this fiasco. Go ahead
    Republicans, pat yourselves on the back, then cover your heads in
    shame. Oh, sorry, forgot you have no shame.

    August 31, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  7. jay

    Why should he credit someone who trades blood for oil.

    August 31, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  8. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Of course Obama won't OVERTLY credit Bush's surge strategy for progress in Iraq (which he opposed as a senator).....but he will gladly take credit for the progress which obviously is a direct result of that strategy. OBAMA, YOU'RE A JOKE!!

    August 31, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  9. Yossi Gestetner

    Yeah, I alwasy knew Obama had class.

    August 31, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  10. Willy Brown

    Another stump speech from the man child.

    August 31, 2010 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  11. Four and The Door

    President Obama is planning to ignore Republican suggestions that he acknowledge a personal mistake and give credit to former President George W. Bush for executing the 2007 surge of troops over the objections of Obama and other Democratic senators at the time...
    ______________________________________________________
    Really, that's okay. The American people and history will give credit to GWB. President Obama is too caught up in partisan politics to allow himself to be this in-touch with the rest of us. Really though, you would expect a President to rise above that.

    August 31, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  12. Augsbee

    Oh, so Obama is not giving credit to Bush because Bush is not being held responsible, at fault for the Iraq War, nor does Bush take any blame for executing the 2007 surge of troops to Iraq over the objections made by then Senator Obama and the other Democrat Senators. So Bush is in the clear of any wrong doing with Iraq!!!!!

    August 31, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  13. Bill

    What he should give Bush credit for is starting the damn mess that took seven years to finish. We never should have been there in the first place. Not to mention the brave soldiers lives lost and taxpayer money squandered.

    August 31, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  14. Bill from SoCal

    Good for Obama. There's no reason he should give Bush any credit. The surge was the only part of Bush's Iraq policy/strategy that wasn't a disaster.

    If Obama gives Bush credit for the surge, will Bush and the GOP apologize for Abu Gharib, "Mission Accomplished", the demoralizing quotes from Donald Rumsfeld, and the countless other blunders they were responsible for that made a surge necessary in the first place? Didn't think so.

    August 31, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  15. Ed

    Ideology makes fools of us all. Is it not possible to have opposed the war in Iraq, but recognize that the only way to counter the growing insurgency in Iraq in 2007 was a surge in troop strength and the active anti-insurgency strategy formulated by General Petrarus and his staff. Starting the war was a political decision that was wrong and cost this nation dearly, the men and women who served in Iraq served this nation honorably and did all that was asked of them and more, and when President Bush finally decided to start listening to his commanders in the field we started toward our ability to withdraw while leaving the Iraqis with some chance of success. President Obama continued that policy by retaining Secretary Gates and the commanders in the field and listening and working with them. Should President Bush get some credit for finally doing what he should have done when he started this (which should not have started in the first place) maybe. Should General Petrarus and people at the state department who turned the situation around in 2007 get credit absolutely.

    August 31, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  16. Kenneth Close

    Breaking Obama: Surge was my idea I did not vote for: Unemployment I'll give bush that credit..

    August 31, 2010 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  17. DagnyTag

    Ahhh, the commie,...er, I mean.....community organizing, lawyer/union/lobby loving radical neo-marxist leftist ideologue: the worst "president" in US history. Move over Carter.

    November is a race to survival.

    August 31, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  18. Tony

    So he voted against the surge and condemed Bush for it. Yet he will take credit because he is to insecure to give credit where credit is due.

    Just like a community organizer..............

    August 31, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  19. Blake

    Does Obama ever give credit to another. He uses "I" more than any president in modern times.

    Except when it comes to screwing up. He is extremely quick to blame others and not accept responsibility.

    August 31, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  20. kd

    It wasn't a 'surge.' All that 'surge' talk was a pure and oft-proven if little spoken of LIE. It was bribery. The US, under Bush Administration orders, PAID our enemies to not fight. IN CASH. It was a transparent, bald and pathetic attempt to make Iraq look like a victory so that the Republicans could salvage some votes after getting the country into two wars and completely wrecking the economy.

    Where do you think all that bribe money went? Those Iraqis who received sure didn't buy Mercedes Benz cars. They stockpiled the money and it certainly went for weapons. Weapons to use once the US leaves.

    Republicans are ALWAYS about the short term and money. Whatever is more profitable in the short run. Even war. We have the Republicans to blame for ALL of this.

    August 31, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  21. Sally

    John Boehner is an opportunist and an idiot. To say that the President has no right to even talk about ending combat operations, as he promised, because he was against the war and the surge (and was right about both!) is disingenuous and politics at their worst. The man who would be Madame Speaker talks much and says little. If he were any kind of leader, he would be more interested in helping Americans than bringing Obama down to his level. Alas, Republicans are now convinced they speak for God, and God now loves war, obscene war spending, and hates poor children and sick and unemployed adults. Who knew?

    August 31, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  22. Tired of the Dems lies

    sounds like the lieing flopped eared obozo who has destroyed this country,Just the worse welfare person alive living free on our tax dollars, why not take a trip back to your homeland and STAY

    August 31, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  23. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    This just in: Obama will also ignore the fact that Bush started the drawdown before he left office, that Saddam Hussein and his sons were eliminated on Bush's watch, and that we actually won the war.

    August 31, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  24. valwayne

    Obama is so arrogant and self centered it would have shocked me to the core if he had credited Bush for the surge which has led to success in Iraq.

    August 31, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  25. Marty, FL

    The neocons do not deserve credit for starting an unnecessary war that diverted our valuable resources. Shame remains on Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, Tenet, Rice, Wolfowitz, and their talking heads who pushed a wasteful ideology. Many Americans will not forget it.

    God bless the USA and President Obama for bringing the Iraq War to a reasonable close on schedule.

    August 31, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
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