By now most people who care have read the piece by MICHAEL E. O’HANLON and KENNETH M. POLLACK in which they express (seemingly against their own will and biases) the opinion that not only is the surge working in quantifiable measures, but that the surge deserves to be extended into 2008 and that the war to free Iraq is winnable.
We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.
How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.
So, predictably, the left either has its fingers in its ears going “LALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU”, and this is nearly a literal description of how Dems are responding to good news from Iraq:
O’Hanlon specializes in military affairs; Pollack is an expert on Iraq and Iran. Both are Democrats; Pollack served on the national security adviser’s staff in the Clinton administration. Both are first-class scholars whom I have long respected, though they differ from me in significant respects on foreign policy. For other comments on their article, see this symposium in National Review Online.
Their argument is one many Democrats in Congress don’t want to hear. Literally. This is the transcript of the response of freshman Rep. Nancy Boyda of Kansas at a House Armed Services Committee hearing last Friday to the optimistic testimony of Gen. Jack Keane, one of the original advocates of the surge:
And I just will make some statements more for the record based on what I heard from—mainly from General Keane. As many of us—there was only so much that you could take until we in fact had to leave the room for a while. So I think I am back and maybe can articulate some things—after so much of the frustration of having to listen to what we listened to.
But let me first just say that the description of Iraq as in some way or another that it’s a place that I might take the family for a vacation—things are going so well—those kinds of comments will in fact show up in the media and further divide this country instead of saying, here’s the reality of the problem. And people, we have to come together and deal with the reality of this issue.
Read that last sentence again. “And people, we have to come together and deal with the reality of this issue.” The reality, that is, of how she sees it. Which is, apparently, that Iraq is a totally lost cause. She can’t bear to hear anyone say anything otherwise.
More leftist pundits are realizing that denying there is progress might leave them looking pretty stupid (er) if they don’t jump on this news now, and not when it becomes common wisdom. Pundita on Dems Rethinking on Iraq:
July 30 seems to have been the day of a sea change in the mainstream media coverage of the Surge and the Democrat position on the Iraq war: Dave Schuler at The Glittering Eye reported on a conversation among David Ignatius of The Washington Post; Time Magazine’s Michael Duffy; NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell; and US News and World Report’s Gloria Borger on Chris Matthews’s show on NBC.
Dave writes, “All four spoke against withdrawing our forces from Iraq, largely on the same grounds that I’ve argued …” Read On. The panelists lean toward the Democrat view and they’re all very influential in both the US and international press. So, if they are urging the Democrats to rethink, their opinion carries clout.
As Glittering Eye notes in a good roundup, “These aren’t neo-con firebrands. They’re sensible center-left scholars from the Brooking Insitution.”
If this kind of stuff continues, its going to cause a tsunami of cognitive dissidence among the hard left, which has invested infinite capital in the narrative of “the war was wrong from the beginning, and its lost now”- they will never be able to admit the surge is working, that President Bush is a great leader, who, like Lincoln, contended against a tenacious foe fighting on its own turf, with an ineffective military, until he found his Grant (Patraeus) and was able to win the war.
Witness the denial of reality already starting- Video: Murtha on O’Hanlon’s and Pollack’s op-ed — “It’s an illusion!”
Remember: there’s no such thing as progress in Iraq, on any front. If someone tells you Ramadi is much more secure today than six months ago, show them the numbers on the daily power supply. If they tell you U.S. casualties are down this month despite the obvious jihadist incentive to launch a summer Tet, sneer at them about the monthly cost of the war. No good news can go unanswered, no matter how many qualifiers that news comes with.
As for the prospect of mass casualties after a U.S. pullout, that’s their problem.
Dan Riehl has some points:
If they come back and demand a flat out withdrawal, they are being intellectually dishonest, as well as selling out both our troops and the Iraqis with whom they met.
Ellison, a vocal critic of the Iraq war, said he still believes it was a mistake for the U.S. to invade Iraq.
“But there are 150,000 American soldiers there now, and I care very deeply about them,” said Ellison, one of six members on the all-freshman trip led by Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif. “I also care about the Iraqi people. I don’t want to see them suffer.”
Ellison said that local leaders in Ramadi told him of how they partnered with U.S. and Iraqi military officials to virtually rid al-Qaeda from the city.
There have been fewer anti-U.S. sermons as the violence has been reduced, Ellison said, and religious leaders meet regularly with U.S. military officials.
McNerney, the California congressman, also said he saw signs of progress in Ramadi and was impressed by Petraeus, who argued in favor of giving President Bush’s troop surge strategy time to work.
McNerney said he still favors a timeline to get troops out of Iraq — something House leaders may bring to the floor again this week as part of a defense spending bill — but is open to crafting it in a way more favorable to generals’ wishes.
And liberal blogs are predictably pooh-poohing the reports of progress, just as they did when Joe Klein, another traitor to the surrender lobby reported things were improving in Iraq and that Al-Qaeda might be on the run.
Glenn “sockpuppet” Greenwald (the guy who uses sockpuppets to defend Glenn Sockpuppet Greenwald and sockpuppets to attack critics of Glenn Sockpuppet Greenwald, the Master of SockPuppets, also known as Glenn Greenwald.) will probably split a gut debunking this latest development, because he, like so many leftists, have their entire being invested in the fact that
More good news about centrist Dems (that long thought to be extinct variety of Democrat) warning against declaring the war lost just as we are winning it, from Politico:
At a moment when many Democratic activists are urging their leaders to be bolder and more confrontational with Republicans, the party’s most influential centrists met Monday to call for more pragmatism and bridge-building.
Presidential candidates were nowhere to be seen at the annual gathering of the Democratic Leadership Council, a moderate group that was closely linked to Bill Clinton but has long been viewed suspiciously by liberal activists.
The DLC’s popularity among many Democrats — especially the Netroots — has plunged in recent years in large measure because most of the group’s leaders backed President Bush on the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003 and continue to warn about a too-rapid withdrawal.
Yet even as the DLC is radioactive in presidential politics, the Nashville conclave highlighted how many of the party’s most impressive gains in recent elections — including winning numerous governorships in states that typically vote Republican in presidential contests — have come from politicians in the classic DLC mold. They played down partisanship, played up traditional values and offered agendas that emphasized problem-solving over ideology.
Many of these politicians warned Monday that Democrats risk blowing their chance to regain the presidency in 2008, and failing to win a long-term majority, if they present a face to the public that is too angry in tone. They also warned that, despite the broad unpopularity of the Iraq war, there is a risk that candidates will position the party as insufficiently committed to protecting national security if they push for too precipitous an end to the war.
And more from Michael Barone on Dems backing away from all surrender talk all the time:
The Times and CBS News didn’t believe the 42-54 result, for the good reason that the poll didn’t show movement on opinion on Iraq and for (I suspect) the bad reason that they couldn’t imagine there could be any rise in the percentage favoring the policies of Bushchimphitler. So they took another poll—an unusual step, because it costs money to take polls, and news organizations, particularly those with declining audiences like the Times and CBS, have limited budgets. Presumably they expected to get a different result. But they got pretty much the same numbers.
Interesting. We’ll be able to see if there are similar shifts in other polls. Maybe there will be; maybe there won’t. The nightmare scenario for Democrats is that increasing numbers of Americans will see progress in Iraq and will not want to accept defeat when they could have victory. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, according to the Washington Post’s Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza, is already having such a nightmare. He said that a positive report by Gen. David Petraeus in September will be “a real big problem for us”:
Clyburn noted that Petraeus carries significant weight among the 47 members of the Blue Dog caucus in the House, a group of moderate to conservative Democrats. Without their support, he said, Democratic leaders would find it virtually impossible to pass legislation setting a timetable for withdrawal.
The “us” in question is of course the House Democratic leadership. A political party gets itself in a bad position when military success for the nation is a “real big problem for us.” Voters generally want their politicians to root for the nation, not against it. We’re still a good distance from this nightmare scenario for congressional Democrats, and we may never get there. But it seems that Jim Clyburn, a highly competent politician and from everything I’ve seen a really nice man, is worried about it.
Its going to be interesting how the back-pedalling Dems reconcile with their MSM cheerleaders who are still trying to down-play the positive effects of President Bush’s stategery:
Maybe Salaheddin thinks AP stands for “absurdly pessimistic,” as despite the uplifting headline “U.S. Toll in Iraq Lowest in 8 Months,” after mentioning it again in the opening paragraph, the article quickly rained on any optimism the reader might have been briefly feeling (emphasis added throughout):
President Bush’s nominee to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meanwhile, acknowledged that slow progress in Iraq is hurting America’s credibility and emboldening Iran’s regional ambitions.
While steady progress has been made on the military front, Iraq’s political factions have made only limited headway in achieving reconciliation, said Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, who has been nominated to replace U.S. Gen. Peter Pace as the nation’s top military officer.
In fact, in an article that, from the title, one would think would be about the declining death toll, and how things from a military standpoint might be improving in Iraq, the piece devoted seven of the first nine paragraphs, and more than 50 percent of the total print space, on political problems in the embattled nation.
And, when Salaheddin finally elaborated on the reduced death toll in July, it was curiously pessimistic:
Also Monday, a U.S. Marine was killed while conducting combat operations in the vast Anbar province west of Baghdad, the military said.
The attack raised to at least 75 the number of U.S. service members who have died in Iraq in July, the lowest number since November 2006, when at least 70 U.S. deaths were reported. The monthly toll topped 100 in April, May and June.
In all, at least 3,652 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians.
The No. 2 commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, expressed cautious optimism about the downturn last week. He said casualties had increased as U.S. forces expanded operations into militant strongholds as part of a five-month-old security crackdown aimed at clamping off violence in Baghdad, but were going down as Americans gained control of the areas.
“It’s an initial positive sign, but I would argue we need a bit more time to make an assessment whether it’s a true trend,” he said.
Hmmm. So, this was the lowest death toll since November, and since before the surge began. You couldn’t find someone to quote who thought this was really good news, Sinan? Or that it was proof that the surge was working?
Oh. That’s right. The surge wasn’t even addressed in this piece. Instead, it was referred to as a “five-month-old security crackdown.”
And, of course, Salaheddin nicely avoided any reference to President Bush having orchestrated this “five-month-old security crackdown” against the wishes of the left and their media minions.
I guess it’s verboten at the AP to connect the president with good news in Iraq regardless of how much your article downplays it.
What a disgrace.