I read Michael Yon’s Moment of Truth – we’ve been on a humanitarian mission, at least since the surge and likely before. The media suddenly has started figuring it out though. I wonder what changed?
So, no longer just air-raiding villages and breaking into houses and terrorizing women and children in the dark of night? Somebody call Kerry and Murtha and tell them the good news.
For those of you actually interested in understanding the mess in the Middle East – consider the outstanding coverage of Michael Yon. He’s a great writer – and an even greater photographer:
Some days ago I visited the bazaar at Jalalabad, and took a bunch of colorful photographs and met many friendly people. Walking through Jalalabad, one could almost forget there was a war. But for the most part, this war is today being fought not in the cities, but the villages and small family compounds where most Afghanis live.
Urban counterinsurgency can be incredibly dangerous, yet the population has a common life. City dwellers are dependent on civil services like water, sewage and electricity; they often have specialized roles in complex economies. Their feelings and opinions form a political aggregate which both the democrat and terrorist must heed. These elements of common life give the urban population a center of gravity which can reach a tipping point and shift, either toward the insurgent or the government. In Iraq, most people live in cities or towns. When the center of gravity in certain communities began shifting against Al Qaeda and other groups, the shifts had a profound impact on the war. Also, Iraq, as Afghanistan, has powerful tribes which can behave like “voting blocs.” Often they vote with bullets.
I’d call it: Reporting, minus the bull-crap. If you still haven’t checked out his stuff – you owe it to yourself. His reporting come straight from the ground – and it will actually elevate your knowledge and understanding of the situation, unlike much of the dumbed down, dope-tastic (not to mention: negative) coverage you’ll get from other sources.
The headline from the NYT the other day. Great news, and more evidence of how important the surge has been. It seems like an appropriate time to reflect back at their overwhelming support for victory in Iraq…
The only real question about the planned “surge” in Iraq — which is better described as a Vietnam-style escalation — is whether its proponents are cynical or delusional. — Paul Krugman, NYT, 1/8/07
There is nothing ahead but even greater disaster in Iraq. — NYT Editorial, 1/11/07
What anyone in Congress with half a brain knows is that the surge was sabotaged before it began. — Frank Rich, NYT, 2/11/07
Keeping troops in Iraq has steadily increased the risk of a bloodbath. The best way to reduce that risk is, I think, to announce a timetable for withdrawal and to begin a different kind of surge: of diplomacy. — Nicholas Kristof, NYT, 2/13/07
W. could have applied that to Iraq, where he has always done only enough to fail, including with the Surge — Maureen Dowd, NYT, 2/17/07
The senator supported a war that didn’t need to be fought and is a cheerleader for a surge that won’t work. — Maureen Dowd, NYT, 2/24/07
Now the ”surge” that was supposed to show results by summer is creeping inexorably into an open-ended escalation, even as Moktada al-Sadr’s militia ominously melts away, just as Iraq’s army did after the invasion in 2003, lying in wait to spring a Tet-like surprise. — Frank Rich, NYT, 3/11/07
Victory is no longer an option in Iraq, if it ever was. The only rational objective left is to responsibly organize America’s inevitable exit. That is exactly what Mr. Bush is not doing and what the House and Senate bills try to do. — NYT Editorial, 3/29/07
There is no possible triumph in Iraq and very little hope left. — NYT Editorial, 4/12/07
… the empty hope of the “surge” … — Frank Rich, NYT, 4/22/07
Three months into Mr. Bush’s troop escalation, there is no real security in Baghdad and no measurable progress toward reconciliation, while American public support for this folly has all but run out. — NYT Editorial, 5/11/07
Now the Bush administration finds itself at that same hour of shame. It knows the surge is not working. — Maureen Down, NYT, 5/27/07
Mr. Bush does have a choice and a clear obligation to re-evaluate strategy when everything, but his own illusions, tells him that it is failing. — NYT Editorial, 7/25/07
The smart money, then, knows that the surge has failed, that the war is lost, and that Iraq is going the way of Yugoslavia. — Paul Krugman, NYT, 9/14/07
The Times regrets the error(s).
Democrat Barack Obama scolded Russia again on Wednesday for invading another country’s sovereign territory while adding a new twist: the United States, he said, should set a better example on that front, too.
The Illinois senator’s opposition to the Iraq war, which his comment clearly referenced, is well known. But this was the first time the Democratic presidential candidate has made a comparison between the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Russia’s recent military activity in Georgia.
“We’ve got to send a clear message to Russia and unify our allies,” Obama told a crowd of supporters in Virginia. “They can’t charge into other countries. Of course it helps if we are leading by example on that point.”
A movie quote comes to mind:
Walter Sobchak: So you have no frame of reference here, Donny Barry. You’re like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know…
The Dude: (interrupting) Walter, Walter, what’s the point, man?
Much more at Powerline on the comparison of the Russian Invasion and Iraq
The following was an interesting debate between Kerry and Lieberman. The videos were posted by a Lieberman hater – but I think they are quite revealing as to who is the reasonable candidate:
Obama’s Judgment? Seriously? Here’s a little more on Obama’s judgement. And here. And here. Also, note how Kerry talks about Medicare being a disaster… So why then would we want to hand over all healthcare to the government?
The reason they aren’t drilling there is because there’s no freaking oil there John Kerry. (or it is too difficult to get).
John Kerry has some very strange views of the history in Iraq. Check out this bit about the Anbar Awakening. The things he claims haven’t happened – actually have, and even people who have been consistently hostile to the war in Iraq are having to admit it. Kerry still hasn’t got the memo yet.
Final question – as you watch these clips, note who sounds fairly reasonable – and who sounds flailing and desperate…
This is great news and it comes, remarkably, from the AP (it must be good if the news media is picking it up). Burns is describing exactly what the purpose and strategy of the surge was – empowering the Iraqi people. It’s a remarkable turn of events and a huge win for all of our fine forces over there getting the job done. Good luck and Godspeed with the work still to be done.
[ht - gatewaypundit]
I love good news.
Surge Successful By Any Measure
WASHINGTON — The surge in Iraq has been a success by any measure, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said during a news conference July 23.
The policy, announced by President Bush in December 2006, pushed additional brigades in to Iraq to provide a security umbrella so the Iraqi military could build and the country’s government could grow.
The surge has allowed Iraq to make improvements from security, political and economic standpoints, Morrell said. The last of the five surge brigade combat teams recently left Iraq.
“By every metric that we measure violence in Iraq, there has been a dramatic improvement from where things were before the surge,” Morrell said. “I’ll just point to one, and that is [that] in July of last year, we had 79 U.S. [servicemembers killed in action] in Iraq. We have four thus far this month.”
The dramatic security gains have provided room for political and economic successes. “You name it, it is happening in Iraq,” Morrell said. “Do you want to talk about political gains? We’ve had basically all the major benchmark legislation passed.”
There were, of course, other factors at work in the security improvement, Morrell said, but the surge and the change in U.S. counterinsurgency strategy made all else possible. The “Anbar Awakening” that allied formerly insurgent Sunni Muslims with the coalition and influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s cease-fire were other factors, he said, but he noted they didn’t happen independently of other events.
“If we think that Sadr acted in a vacuum, I think we’re kidding ourselves,” Morrell said. “There clearly was political and military pressure which caused him to make a decision to have his troops stand down.
“But we benefitted from it, no doubt,” he continued. “There’s no question that the awakening in Anbar, the cease-fire by Sadr, simultaneous to the surge, has helped the overall security situation in Iraq.”
It is important to realize that the real success of The Surge wasn’t just about more troops, it was a shift in tactics and counterinsurgency strategy. (This is the key point in Michael Yon’s book Moment of Truth, by the way.) I think the media has kind of simplified the surge into a numbers game, making it seem like Bush was just throwing more soldiers over there to fix a blunder. In reality, the new strategy – outlined by General Petraeus - required more troops to pull off. The military deserves huge credit here for adapting, figuring out what would work, and getting the job done.
Of course, there are a few people for whom this may not seem like good news:
Quite the editorial from the WaPo the other day (emphasis mine):
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has a history of tailoring his public statements for political purposes, made headlines by saying he would support a withdrawal of American forces by 2010. But an Iraqi government statement made clear that Mr. Maliki’s timetable would extend at least seven months beyond Mr. Obama’s. More significant, it would be “a timetable which Iraqis set” — not the Washington-imposed schedule that Mr. Obama has in mind. It would also be conditioned on the readiness of Iraqi forces, the same linkage that Gen. Petraeus seeks. As Mr. Obama put it, Mr. Maliki “wants some flexibility in terms of how that’s carried out.”
Other Iraqi leaders were more directly critical. As Mr. Obama acknowledged, Sunni leaders in Anbar province told him that American troops are essential to maintaining the peace among Iraq’s rival sects and said they were worried about a rapid drawdown.
Charels Krauthammer made the case about a year ago about the importance of Iraq. Yesterday, this Washington Post Editorial joins him.
Yet Mr. Obama’s account of his strategic vision remains eccentric. He insists that Afghanistan is “the central front” for the United States, along with the border areas of Pakistan. But there are no known al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, and any additional U.S. forces sent there would not be able to operate in the Pakistani territories where Osama bin Laden is headquartered. While the United States has an interest in preventing the resurgence of the Afghan Taliban, the country’s strategic importance pales beside that of Iraq, which lies at the geopolitical center of the Middle East and contains some of the world’s largest oil reserves. If Mr. Obama’s antiwar stance has blinded him to those realities, that could prove far more debilitating to him as president than any particular timetable.
I can’t usually stand Couric – but she deserves a great deal of credit here for actually asking the candidates tough questions about the war on terror:
Obama continues to insist that Afghanistan (the good war) is where we should be investing troops. What he doesn’t explain is why that would make any sense.
Also, for some reason he simply has ‘no idea’ what would have happened if the US had followed his advice rather than the surge. I have an idea: Iraq would have become a disastrous bloodbath – which is exactly where it was headed before the surge. In fact – this is exactly why the Iraqis are saying that “American troops are essential to maintaining the peace.” How is this such a tough hypothetical?
I have to give McCain major props here for cutting out all the ‘hypothetical’, ‘too difficult to know’ bullcrap. If you want to hear more of McCain’s statement you can check it out here. I especially appreciate this line, as Obama’s main talking point has been that McCain is basically Bush part 2 and all he wants to do is stay in Iraq:
I know those wars. I know conflicts. And I hate war. No one hates war more than the veteran who feels most plainly the loss of a veteran. And I know how to win wars.
We have succeeded in Iraq. We are winning. We will be making additional withdrawals as everybody acknowledged. We may have an advisory capacity as even Sen. Obama agrees. And we may have security arrangements that are in the interest of both countries. But the fact is victory is being achieved now. A stable society. Secure environment. Functioning government. Functioning legal system. All of the trappings of a nation where people can feel secure in their future in a free and independent nation. And that’s what we’ve succeeded in the strategy which will then mean we are winning the war and bring our troops home.
You can debate whether or not getting into Iraq was a good idea, but in my opinion – that will ultimately be determined by how we get out of Iraq. McCain thinks that victory there is possible, and that it is important not to leave until we reach that point. Obama thinks victory is impossible, and that we should get out ASAP.
We get to decide whose strategy would be best for America this fall.