Romney, with Cheney, Rove, All Admit Defeat in Iraq
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Cheerleading aside, Romney’s Iraq reversal at the debate, lost in the press coverage of his more timely headstands and pirouettes, takes on historic importance, signaling at last an official GOP bow to the disaster of its war, which was used only eight years ago as the party’s rationale for its most recent presidential win. Romney was until recently deriding “the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop presence”, insisting that we should have left up to 30,000 troops there, and declaring that Iraq was “the right decision” that he supported then and supports now.
In “No Apology,” Romney lays out a list of examples of the U.S. encouraging jihadists by abandoning the fight, starting with Lebanon in the Reagan era (without ever mentioning who was president). “Only in recent years,” he concludes, “has American resolve in Iraq and Afghanistan provided a counterexample of Western fortitude in the face of jihadist attacks,” implicitly linking Iraq to 9/11. When Bush gave Romney a prime-time spot at the 2004 RNC, Romney referred to Iraq as “the just war our soldiers are fighting to protect free people everywhere,” and said “there is no question: George W. Bush is right and the ‘Blame America First’ crowd is wrong.” And in June 2009, when he appeared at the Heritage Foundation to begin his second presidential campaign, he called Iraq an “astonishing success” that had “proven the critics wrong” and “eliminated the threat Iraq represented.”
At the same time that the campaign went ahead with the Cheney fundraiser in Dallas and two other Texas events, it cancelled one slated for Midland, the onetime home of those good old boys, Bush II and Tommy Franks. Romney named retired CENTCOM commander Franks to chair his military advisory committee the day before the debate where he waved the poll-tested white flag of GOP surrender about the war Franks led.
The timing of the Franks appointment was a bit awkward, since mild-mannered debate moderator Bob Schieffer had denounced Franks in 2008, when he took $100,000 from a phony charity that ate most of the money it said it was raising for wounded veterans. Franks wanted to be paid for the use of his name. “We don’t hire our generals to rubberstamp every idea their civilian bosses up with,” contended Schieffer, adding that we select them for their military expertise. Franks, said Schieffer, “went along with a plan that violated the first rule of warfare: never invade unless you have an overwhelming advantage and a firm idea of what to do next.” Schieffer asked: “What kind of PERSON would insist, or even ALLOW himself, to be paid to raise money for those who were wounded while serving under him?”
From 2005 to 2007, Franks was a $60,000-a-year director of OSI Restaurant Partners, the Bain Capital-owned company that runs the Outback Steakhouse chain ( he’s also a director of Chuck E. Cheese). He was a $240,000-a-year member of the board of Bank America when it collected $45 billion in TARP funds, resigning, with nine other directors, in 2009. USA Today reported that the staggered resignations “were seen as an effort to overhaul leadership to appease both federal regulators and angry shareholders,” another Obama administration action Franks probably opposed.
Beyond the Schieffer critique, here’s the rest of the wartime resume of the beret, boots and bluster general:
*Left it to Afghan warlords to cut off the escape route for Mullah Omar, Ayman al-Zawahri, and Bin Laden at Tora Bora, giving OSL another decade on the loose until Obama got him;
*Asked Bush to do the “Mission Accomplished” celebration, marking closure for the troops, only eight years before Obama actually brought them home;