DOES BOEHNER REALLY WANT TO DEBATE IRAQ AND THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY?…. As the next phase of the U.S. presence in Iraq begins, and Operation Iraqi Freedom comes to a formal end, it’s fair to give some credit to President Obama. It was his vision of a phased withdrawal that shaped the Status of Forces Agreement signed in 2008, and it was his timetable that has brought the troop levels below 50,000 for the first time since the war began.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), meanwhile, has a different take.

House GOP leader John Boehner said on Friday the administration is taking credit for ending the combat mission in Iraq, but that it’s the troop surge — which President Obama opposed as a senator — that made it possible.

Previewing a speech he’ll give on Iraq next week, the Ohio Republican published an op-ed on the conservative Human Events website and released a Web video that credits the troops and the 2007 troop “surge” for turning around the security situation — and ultimately allowing the withdrawal of combat troops. Boehner argued that Democrats, such as Obama, then-Sen. Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who argued against the surge at the time, were “on the wrong side of history.”

There are a couple of angles to keep in mind. The first is that the surge was not solely responsible for improved conditions in Iraq. There were a number of factors — the Sunni Awakening, which pre-dated the surge; a ceasefire announced by Shiite militia leader Muqtada Sadr; the success of ethnic cleansing efforts in much of Iraq — that contributed simultaneously. Boehner tends to get confused by policy arguments that don’t fit on a bumper-sticker, but to argue that “surge = success” demonstrates a serious lack of depth.

The second is just as important. Boehner thinks he’s on the “right side of history” because he supported escalation in 2007. That’s among the most ridiculous things Boehner has ever said. Boehner got the war wrong from the beginning. “History” has made clear that this misguided war was a mistake, and Boehner spent seven years as its cheerleader.

Indeed, Boehner, always a little slow on the uptake, was still linking Iraq to 9/11 as recently as 2007. Asked about the thousands of American troops who died in Iraq, fighting an unnecessary war, Boehner called their deaths “a small price to pay.” As recently as 2006, Boehner was insisting that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and played a supporting role in executing the 9/11 attacks.

And now the foolish Minority Leader wants to attack those who got the war right as being on the “wrong side of history”? That’s pathetic, even by Boehner’s standards.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.