President Bush salutes in front of General David Petraeus
and Admiral William Fallon, September 2007, in Iraq

President Obama today announced an Iraq withdrawal plan that George Bush would be proud to call his own. Actually, it IS Bush’s own.

Don’t be fooled by the lawyerly language in his pledge to complete “the responsible removal of our combat brigades from Iraq” by August 2010. He’s leaving up to 50,000 troops in place until the end of 2011, and I guarantee that they’ll have weapons and the capability of responding with more than battalion strength. I’m not sure how he’s defining “combat brigades,” but he must be dancing close to an outright lie — a brigade is only 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers, it looks to me like he’s leaving three divisions in place.

Thank God.

Fully seven months ago, in July, I wrote the following:

If it’s going to become Mr. Obama’s war, I can take some comfort in the fact that at least he’s showing signs of an ability to think independently of the extreme pacifist wing of his party.

Candidate Obama already was tacking to the right on the war — his clarion call for surrender lost its usefulness as a wedge issue once Hillary Clinton withdrew from the race. The previously hapless George Bush had finally found the right general and the right strategy. Well before the election, even Obama had to acknowledge that the surge had “succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”

After winning in November, Obama co-opted Hillary and her one-time support for the war by naming her Secretary of State. But the clearest indication that the grown-ups would be in charge of the war came when Obama announced that he was retaining Bush’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, who oversaw the turnaround in Iraq. I feel much better about the Obama Presidency now than I did on Election Day.

The Bush Administration won the war in Iraq just in time, making it too late for the Democrats to surrender. The real test will come with the war Obama says he wants to fight, in Afghanistan. I wish him every success.

(Photo: Associated Press)

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