The second presidential debate is done, and the pundit debate regarding its meaning continues. President Obama made three questionable statements relating to national security, and as the foreign policy debate approaches on Monday, these are worth addressing:
- “I ended the war in Iraq.” This one is a stretch. The surge that really ended the war was begun under President George W. Bush and Secretary Robert Gates. The President can take credit that he brokered departure of our forces from Iraq, so in that sense he “ended” it. The problem is that the departure did not include an adequate security cooperation agreement. So he was right, but the sheen is not as bright as the President would like the public to think.
- Mitt Romney “wants to spend $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn’t asked for.” This one is more problematic. Here, Obama is apparently referring to the $2 trillion difference between his budget, wrought with cuts, and Romney’s proposal to reverse them. These cuts have been called “shooting ourselves in the head” by the Administration’s own Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Romney stated that he would restore these cuts because they have gutted defense. To say these are funds that the military has not asked for is again, technically correct, but the military said it could get by despite the cuts. No one ever said they didn’t need the money.
- “We doubled the number of Border Patrol agents on the southwest border.” This last one is just flat untrue. The doubling of the Border Patrol’s strength occurred wholly during the Bush Administration. President Obama should recant that claim. It is not his accomplishment. The best that can be said is that he has not rolled back what was previously done.