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

Obama not planning to credit Bush over Iraq 'surge'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. DENNA

    Crediting Bush would be a double-edge sword that would best be left alone. If he is to be credited with the surge, should he and the Repubs not be blamed for the state of the economy? You see, credit/blame is really a double-edge sword. President Obama did the smart thing.

    August 31, 2010 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  2. JonDie

    Bush's Iraq war:

    1) cost the tax payers close to 1 TRILLION dollars in debt with most of the money going as profits to Republican-led corporations;

    2) got 40,000+ U.S. soldiers needlessly killed or wounded; and

    3) means the war in Afghanistan is over; and we lost.

    Surge or no surge, the war was a waste of lives and money.

    August 31, 2010 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  3. KateHikes

    No, the so-called "surge" was the brainchild of kike Lieberman and his Shabbos goy McCain. "Sure, send more of our American over to Iraq to die for I$rael. We don't care." Traitors.

    August 31, 2010 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  4. jimmy choo

    You might recall that the surge wasn't very popular when it was announced," said the Republican from Kentucky. "

    August 31, 2010 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
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