New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote an article Tuesday largely about the success America has had rebuilding Iraq without ever mentioning the name of former President George W. Bush.
To be sure, "Nation Building Works" also addressed some of the failures: the absence of "social trust," the lack of doctors and engineers, as well as rampant corruption to name a few.
But in a column published the very day President Obama is to address the nation about Iraq, it seems particularly odd that the man at the helm when America invaded - and who against public sentiment as well as the will of the current White House resident orchestrated a surge of military forces in 2007 largely responsible for the success of this mission - is conspicuously absent:
"Iraq has made substantial progress since 2003," the International Monetary Fund reports. Inflation is reasonably stable. A budget surplus is expected by 2012. Unemployment, though still 15 percent, is down from stratospheric levels.
Oil production is back around prewar levels, and there are some who say Iraq may be able to rival Saudi production. That's probably unrealistic, but Iraq will have a healthy oil economy, for better and for worse. [...]
In the most recent Gallup poll, 69 percent of Iraqis rated their personal finances positively, up from 36 percent in March 2007. Baghdad residents say the markets are vibrant again, with new electronics, clothing and even liquor stores. [...]
About half the U.S. money has been spent building up Iraqi security forces, and here, too, the trends are positive. Violence is down 90 percent from pre-surge days. There are now more than 400,000 Iraqi police officers and 200,000 Iraqi soldiers, with operational performance improving gradually. According to an ABC News/BBC poll last year, nearly three-quarters of Iraqis had a positive view of the army and the police, including, for the first time, a majority of Sunnis.
Sounds pretty darned good, right?
Yet Bush's name is not even mentioned nor is the fact that Obama as Senator voted against the surge and campaigned against the wisdom of it on his road to the White House.
As such, who got the de facto credit for the current condition in Iraq as far as this piece was concerned?
When President Obama speaks to the country on Iraq, he'll be able to point to a large national project that has contributed to measurable, positive results. [...]
If he is honest, Obama will have to balance pride with caution. He'll have to acknowledge that the gains the U.S. is enabling may vanish if the U.S. military withdraws entirely next year. He'll have to acknowledge that bottom-up social change requires time and patience. He'll have to heed the advice of serious Iraq hands like Crocker, Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings and Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations, and shelve plans to withdraw completely.
Yes, but nowhere did Brooks advise this President to congratulate or at least acknowledge the former one for going against Obama's senatorial wishes by orchestrating a surge that made any of the success possible.
I'm sure this was just an oversight on Brooks's part.