Friday, April 27, 2007

An Appeal to Hope for Iraq

While most Democrats, and some Republicans, don't have the audacity to hope for success in Iraq, others take up that mantle.

Max Boot: An Iraq success story

There is no doubt that U.S. forces face an agonizingly difficult task in Iraq. The bombings that killed nearly 200 people in Baghdad last week make clear how hard the challenge is. But as Gen. David Petraeus said on taking command in February, "Hard is not hopeless." The experience of Ramadi — which has gone from being one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq to one of the safest — provides a glimmer of hope.

Re-taking Ramadi

Iraqi forces have begun to participate effectively in coalition operations, and nowhere more so than in Ramadi. Key to the success of this undertaking has been the recent decision by most of the major Al Anbar tribes to turn against Al Qaeda and its indiscriminate reign of terror.

The Numbers

Ramadi is not an isolated example. There is progress across Al Anbar province. According to coalition briefings, attacks in the province are at a two-year low. Tips to coalition forces are soaring. U.S. troops used to find only 50% of IEDs. Now they are defusing 80% before they detonate. (Al Qaeda in Iraq has responded with chlorine gas bombs. In other words, using chemical weapons against Sunni civilians — not a tactic likely to win over the populace.)

'Independent' Democrat Joe Lieberman also expounded on the many reasons we should hope and fight for success. The signs are there:

What is needed in Iraq policy is not overheated rhetoric but a sober assessment of the progress we have made and the challenges we still face.

In the two months since Petraeus took command, the United States and its Iraqi allies have made encouraging progress on two problems that once seemed intractable: tamping down the Shiite-led sectarian violence that paralyzed Baghdad until recently and consolidating support from Iraqi Sunnis -- particularly in Anbar, a province dismissed just a few months ago as hopelessly mired in insurgency.

No reprisals

Even as the American political center falters, the Iraqi political center is holding. In the aftermath of last week's attacks, there were no large-scale reprisals by Shiite militias -- as undoubtedly would have occurred last year. Despite the violence, Iraq's leadership continues to make slow but visible progress toward compromise and reconciliation.

Lieberman concludes

To me, there is only one choice that protects America's security -- and that is to stand, and fight, and win.

As if this was not enough, American soldiers now fighting in Iraq are writing to bloggers in defense of the war, explicitly rejecting Senator Harry Reid's harsh rhetoric that "The war is lost":

Marine Corporal From A Bunker In Ramadi: “I Got A Message For That Douche Harry Reid”

yeah news worth reporting…. well ramadi was once dubbed by everyone as the worst city in the world. but we have done such a great job here that all the families in the area have worked with us on driving out the insurgency and that we work directly with the IA and the IP’s. the city has been cleaned up so well that the IP’s do most of the patrols now and we go out with them to hand out candy and toys to the children. you can tell that the people want us here to protect them from the thugs and gangs (insurgents). granted they would rather have peace and quit but they know that if we arent here they will be thrown around by the insurgents. a good example is this one mission we did. long story short we got blown up in multiple buildings and had to run into a families house. i spent my christmas holidays covered in ash from the mortar fire and the IED’s, sleeping under a dirty rug i found in the house. everyone was sleeping way to close for comfort just to stay warm. anyways. a family was there and they obviously didnt want us there. at least at first. the daughters were very sick so our corpsman treated them. they didnt have electricity so we got them a generator for power, they were cold so we got them gas heaters, we got them food and water and then we gave them $500. by the end of the week long visit with them we were drinking tea with them. when we left we cleaned their house better than it was when we got there. i even have pictures with the family. they told us that they liked marines and they would help us as much as they could and they gave us some information on the insurgents in the area. we ended up catching a HUGE target down the road from there house because of it.

yeah and i got a qoute for that douche harry reid. these families need us here. obviously he has never been in iraq. or at least the area worth seeing. the parts where insurgency is rampant and the buildings are blown to pieces. we need to stay here and help rebuild. if iraq didnt want us here then why do we have IP’s voluntering everyday to rebuild their cities. and working directly with us too. same with the IA’s. it sucks that iraqi’s have more patriotism for a country that has turned to complete shit more than the people in america who drink starbucks everyday. we could leave this place and say we are sorry to the terrorists. and then we could wait for 3,000 more american civilians to die before we say “hey thats not nice” again. and the sad thing is after we WIN this war. people like him will say he was there for us the whole time.and for messages back home. i have a wife back home who is going through a tough time. i just cant wait to be back home and see everyone. haha and i cant wait to go back home and get some starbucks. i love it when those people serve me. hahaha”

It's damning that a sitting Senator, a majority leader of the United States Senate, can evoke such a visceral reaction from an American Marine, who has taken the time out of his duties to express his disgust with Washington politics.

Charles Krauthammer sums up the contradiction in terms

By the day, the debate at home about Iraq becomes increasingly disconnected from the realities of the actual war on the ground. The Democrats in Congress are so consumed with negotiating among their factions the most clever linguistic device to legislatively ensure the failure of the administration's current military strategy -- while not appearing to do so -- that they speak almost not at all about the first visible results of that strategy.


...where was the mandate for withdrawal? Almost no Democratic candidates campaigned on that. They campaigned for changing the course the administration was on last November.

And why do the Democrats lead the charge against the war in Iraq? What accounts for their obstinacy? Is it because their base despises this war? Are Democrats taking a principled stance? Perhaps. Unlikely, though. What is more likely is this - The more Democrats legislate and obfuscate against the war, the more they are able to avoid the spotlight shine on their own actions, or lack thereof. As only ABC noted on the Democrats' first 100 days in office, the Democrats failed to even pass their 'Six for '06' campaign pledge. The more the Democrats spend valuable legislative time investigating the administration's legal, albeit irresponsible hiring and firing practices, the more the Democrats hold hearings on CIA cases that have already been closed, the less time they are spending on real issue, the less time they have to take solid, principled stands on issues. Investigations and hearings provide them with press coverage and a smokescreen for their own failings. The Republicans were guilty of the same calumny during the final years of the Clinton administration.

It is a sad practice in Washington, these accusatory hearings; they waste time, money and resources, they don't solve our problems, and they drag peoples' names in the mud. In the midst of a war, it is almost criminal to spend even a single day in the United States Congress about questions and issues tantamount to gossip - when there are thousands upon thousands of fanatics overseas and perhaps at home who are ready, willing and able to do us harm.

Democrats have found time for hearings, they have found time to be briefed by Al Gore on global warming, but could not find the time to meet with General Petraeus for an update on Iraq. Something is wrong here. Something stinks. Republicans may have broken their lofty "reform" goals of the 1990's, Republicans may have began these disastrous hearings, but it brings me no solace to have found the Democrats have picked up right where Republicans have left off.

Congressmen and women are not elected to act out show trials in front of the cameras, we are not talking about the McCarthy hearings here, we are not talking about a reckless Federal agency suspending habeus corpus, illegally imprisoning innocent Americans. We are talking about Washington gossip, settling scores, and petty, trifle politicking of the most venal kind.

It's shameful.

Finally, I will finish with a quote from Michael O'Hanlon, who warns of the real issue at hand. That if we leave Iraq:

[I] think [the consequences] would probably be…the civil war getting anywhere from two to ten times worse in terms of the rate of killing. I think ultimately, the Sunni Arabs would be mostly defeated, and they would essentially be ghettoized in the western part of their country without much oil, very angry at the world, and therefore even more likely to collaborate with al Qaeda... I’m not saying that it would destabilize the entire Persian Gulf, but there would be some chance of a regional war, and a very high chance of genocide inside Iraq.

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