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The Logic of the Surge

The McCain campaign, it's surrogates, and some media members enjoy prodding Barack Obama about his stance on the surge in Iraq. They constantly attempt to force him to state he was wrong for opposing it. The fact of the matter is that they being illogical. They can state that Obama was wrong all they want, but the logic just doesn't support their argument.

Their first statement is the surge in troops worked. This isn't an easy thing to answer. Defining "worked" is like trying to define "happy", there are just too many variables. Did the violence in Iraq go down once the surge began, yes is the obvious answer. And I will assume that is the definition of "worked" in this case.

Can you really state that the entire decrease in violence was caused by our troops? And that we wouldn't have reached the current levels of violence without it? For the argument in questions to work you have to be able to answer those questions. To be honest though we could say that the Sunni Awakening is responsible. I tend to come down on the side of our troops and state that they were a big part of the decrease in violence. Obama has already stated that he agrees the troop surge was successful. And the fact violence is down it's easy to see. The logic of the McCain camp fails though when they say he was wrong to oppose the surge because violence is now down. To make that conclusion, they need to successfully state that without the surge, violence would not have decreased. That is a failed assumption. The only way to prove this is to be able to go back in time, not implement the surge and see the results. If violence remained at the same levels or accelerated Obama would be proven wrong. And inversely, if violence decrease Obama would be correct.

Unfortunately this is impossible. It may be that without the surge the Sunni Awakening along with the existing US troop presence would have decreased the violence. You could argue that it would have taken longer, but you could also argue that there would have been less US troop casualties without the surge. So that is a double edged sword.

To make a sports comparison, the logic that Obama's detractors are using is the same as stating that without that mid-season trade, a sport team would not have made the playoffs or won the championship. Everyone can see that the trade was successful, but to state that without the trade they would be out of the playoffs is impossible.

Another comparison would be stating that without a book being chosen by Oprah for her book club the book wouldn't be successful. Once again, Oprah choosing the book makes it a best seller, but who can say that without Oprah selecting it, that it wouldn't have become a best seller on it's merits alone.

Anyone who is willing to look at the logic can see stating Obama was wrong about the Surge is a fallacy. Arguing that the supports of the surge were also wrong is illogical by the same token. Obama hasn't done this though, he has admitted that the surge worked, but to admit that he was initially wrong would be to state that without the surge we wouldn't have seen progress, and you can't prove that without a flux capacitor.