Yesterday, Barack Obama made the inexplicable observation that “We’ve got to get the job done [in Afghanistan]. And that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there.”
This characterization of what our armed forces are doing in Afghanistan was, to put it mildly, inaccurate. It was also politically tone-deaf in the extreme. It drew a strong rebuke from Mitt Romney spokesman Kevin Madden:
“That is a very troubling remark on so many levels,” said Romney spokesman Kevin Madden. “Most importantly, it’s emblematic of Senator Obama’s lack of experience for the job of commander-in-chief. But it’s also an entirely inaccurate condemnation of the efforts of the men and women of the United States military who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Obama’s blunder suggests, once again, that he is not ready for prime time, either as a politician or as commander in chief. It was interesting, though, that Hillary Clinton’s campaign declined to comment on Obama’s remark. A week ago, Hillary went after Obama for suggesting that as President, he would bomb Pakistan. Since then, she has solidified her lead in the polls. Her reluctance to weigh in on this potentially more serious mistake may suggest that she is more concerned about Obama, at this point, as a viable running mate than as a competitor for the Democrats’ nomination.
UPDATE: Here is the key portion of Obama’s speech:
FURTHER UPDATE: The Associated Press rushed in to defend Obama with a “fact check” in which the AP claims that coalition troops kill more civilians than the Taliban does:
A check of the facts shows that Western forces have been killing civilians at a faster rate than the insurgents have been killing civilians.
The U.S. and NATO say they don’t have civilian casualty figures, but The Associated Press has been keeping count based on figures from Afghan and international officials. Tracking civilian deaths is a difficult task because they often occur in remote and dangerous areas that are difficult to reach and verify.
As of Aug. 1, the AP count shows that while militants killed 231 civilians in attacks in 2007, Western forces killed 286.
This wasn’t, of course, what Obama said, so it isn’t clear how it can be a “fact check.” The numbers are, in any event, implausible on their face.