Has the Left Miscalculated on the IRAQI War?
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Has the Left Miscalculated on the IRAQI War?
A discussion and some web links by
Jay B. Gaskill
I think the democrats are misjudging the American people, who are frustrated with slow progress in Iraq, but fundamentally out of synch with the anti-military left. Events (in the form of catastrophic defeat in Iraq) may yet rescue the democrats but a highly respected general, who is a leading counterinsurgency expert, may frustrate the hoped for (or at least anticipated) failure.
Certain democratic power brokers are acutely aware that, among the freshmen and women members of Congress and Senate who make up the new democratic majority, there is significant plurality of red state moderates. These people are not reliable votes for the left’s anti-military agenda, as the recent failed attempts by Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid to force premature withdrawal from the Iraqi theater have demonstrated.
The leftist subgroup that is in operational control of the democratic agenda and election strategy, for the moment, has backed the major democratic candidates into an anti-victory corner. This is a place no future president (including, truth be told, Mrs. Clinton) wants to be, one in which the democratic political victory is linked to an “I told you so” American defeat in Iraq.
And what if the Iraq Project goes better than expected? As the democratic House Majority Whip, Jim Clyburn, was quoted (in an unusually candid admission), that development would be “a real big problem for us.”
What follows are four LINKS to recent significant articles and opinion pieces about this situation, each with generous excerpts.
- An important piece by US News’ Michael Barone.
- The now famous New York Times piece by two Brooking Institute experts, O’Hanlon & Pollack (both democrats).
- A chilling piece by Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former KGB General, who connects the current democratic tactics to an old Soviet playbook….
- An account of the democratic dilemma that ran in Investor’s Daily, and
- A link to a reliable source of information about the course of the counterinsurgency in Iraq.
FIRST LINK – BARONE’S PIECE
August 6, 2007 12:00 AM
Perceptions are starting to shift.
By Michael Barone
“It’s not often that an opinion article shakes up Washington and changes the way a major issue is viewed. But that happened last week, when the New York Times printed an opinion article by Brookings Institution analysts Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack on the progress of the surge strategy in Iraq.’
“Yes, progress. O’Hanlon and Pollack supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 — Pollack even wrote a book urging the overthrow of Saddam Hussein — but they have sharply criticized military operations there in the ensuing years.
“As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq,” they wrote, “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.”
“Their bottom line: “There is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.”
“But reality can change — and in war it often does. For George W. Bush and his leading advisers, the reality of Iraq in June 2003 was that we had won a major military victory and that any postwar messiness was not a big problem. We’d put a proconsul in for a year, set up elections and install an Iraqi government, train Iraqi soldiers and police, and restrict our troops to a light footprint. But that reality changed, into full-fledged sectarian warfare, after al Qaeda bombed the Shiite mosque in Samarra in February 2006.
“Wars don’t stand still. In June 1942, the House of Commons debated a resolution of no confidence in Winston Churchill’s government. Four months later came the war-changing victory at El Alamein.
“Gen. David Petraeus, the author of the Army’s new counterinsurgency manual and the commander in Iraq, is scheduled to report on the surge in mid-September. The prospect of an even partially positive report has sent chills up the spines of Democratic leaders in Congress. That, says House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, would be “a real big problem for us.”
[….]“Democrats could find themselves trapped between a base that wants retreat and defeat, and a majority that wants victory.”
© 2007 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.
SECOND LINK: THE NYT PIECE
Here is the analysis by two Brookings Institute experts – “the surge just might work” as it appeared in the New York Times.
“A War We Just Might Win”
By MICHAEL E. O'HANLON AND KENNETH M. POLLACK
July 30, 2007
“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.”
Michael E. O'Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Kenneth M. Pollack is the director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings.
© 2007 The New York Times
THIRD LINK: THE KGB GENERAL
A Former KGB General nails the anti-war left’s tactics in the WALL STREET JOURNAL
Take it from this old KGB hand: The left is abetting America's enemies with its intemperate attacks on President Bush.
BY ION MIHAI PACEPA
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
“During last week's two-day summit, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown thanked President Bush for leading the global war on terror. Mr. Brown acknowledged "the debt the world owes to the U.S. for its leadership in this fight against international terrorism" and vowed to follow Winston Churchill's lead and make Britain's ties with America even stronger.
“Mr. Brown's statements elicited anger from many of Mr. Bush's domestic detractors, who claim the president concocted the war on terror for personal gain. But as someone who escaped from communist Romania--with two death sentences on his head--in order to become a citizen of this great country, I have a hard time understanding why some of our top political leaders can dare in a time of war to call our commander in chief a "liar," a "deceiver" and a "fraud."
“I spent decades scrutinizing the U.S. from Europe, and I learned that international respect for America is directly proportional to America's own respect for its president.
“But in September 2002, a German cabinet minister, Herta Dauebler-Gmelin, had the nerve to compare Mr. Bush to Hitler. In one post-Iraq-war poll 40% of Canada's teenagers called the U.S. ‘evil,’ and even before the fall of Saddam 57% of Greeks answered ‘neither’ when asked which country was more democratic, the U.S. or Iraq.
“Sowing the seeds of anti-Americanism by discrediting the American president was one of the main tasks of the Soviet-bloc intelligence community during the years I worked at its top levels. This same strategy is at work today, but it is regarded as bad manners to point out the Soviet parallels. For communists, only the leader counted, no matter the country, friend or foe. At home, they deified their own ruler--as to a certain extent still holds true in Russia. Abroad, they asserted that a fish starts smelling from the head, and they did everything in their power to make the head of the Free World stink.
“The communist effort to generate hatred for the American president began soon after President Truman set up NATO and propelled the three Western occupation forces to unite their zones to form a new West German nation. We were tasked to take advantage of the reawakened patriotic feelings stirring in the European countries that had been subjugated by the Nazis, in order to shift their hatred for Hitler over into hatred for Truman--the leader of the new "occupation power." Western Europe was still grateful to the U.S. for having restored its freedom, but it had strong leftist movements that we secretly financed. They were like putty in our hands.
“During the Vietnam War we spread vitriolic stories around the world, pretending that America's presidents sent Genghis Khan-style barbarian soldiers to Vietnam who raped at random, taped electrical wires to human genitals, cut off limbs, blew up bodies and razed entire villages. Those weren't facts. They were our tales, but some seven million Americans ended up being convinced their own president, not communism, was the enemy. As Yuri Andropov, who conceived this dezinformatsiya war against the U.S., used to tell me, people are more willing to believe smut than holiness.
“Unfortunately, partisans today have taken a page from the old Soviet playbook. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, for example, Bush critics continued our mud-slinging at America's commander in chief. One speaker, Martin O'Malley, now governor of Maryland, had earlier in the summer stated he was more worried about the actions of the Bush administration than about al Qaeda. On another occasion, retired four-star general Wesley Clark gave Michael Moore a platform to denounce the American commander in chief as a ‘deserter.’
“Now we are again at war. It is not the president's war. It is America's war, authorized by 296 House members and 76 senators. I do not intend to join the armchair experts on the Iraq war. I do not know how we should handle this war, and they don't know either. But I do know that if America's political leaders, Democrat and Republican, join together as they did during World War II, America will win. Otherwise, terrorism will win. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi predicted just before being killed:
‘We fight today in Iraq, tomorrow in the land of the Holy Places, and after there in the West.’
For once, the communists got it right. It is America's leader that counts. Let's return to the traditions of presidents who accepted nothing short of unconditional surrender from our deadly enemies.
Lt. Gen. Pacepa is the highest-ranking intelligence official ever to have defected from the Soviet bloc.
© 2007 The Wall Street Journal
Successful Surge Is Dems' Dilemma
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, August 10, 2007 4:20 PM PT
Iraq: Democratic senators visiting Iraq have seen for themselves that President Bush's surge strategy is working…
Interviewed from Iraq, Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, last week admitted that our forces are “making real progress’ there.
Durbin told CNN, “What we find is that the surge has troops going into areas where for 4 1/2 years we have not seen our military in action.”
But back in January… Durbin called the proposed 20,000-plus new troops “too few to end this civil war in Iraq and too many American lives to risk on top of those we've already lost.”
According to the Associated Press, freshman Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., who accompanied Durbin to Iraq, said in a conference call with reporters last week that a good argument could be made that U.S. troops have actually won the war in Iraq.
Yet Casey also told CNN last week that he was still right to have voted against the surge.
“The problem here,” he said, “is that the president of the United States continues to insist on a stay-the-course policy, no change in direction, no sense that the American people can determine that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Even Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., last week conceded there has been progress.
[While] Durbin grouses that “the political scene is very discouraging” …. “I think we’re making some measurable progress,” Durbin told the Chicago Tribune, ‘but … as our troops show some progress toward security, the government of this nation (Iraq) is moving in the opposite direction.”
[But] there are encouraging political signs in Iraq.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government's parliament, for instance, unanimously approved a regional oil law on Aug. 6, which is likely to spark interest in the region among a number of foreign energy companies. It may turn into a model for the entire country.”
[END OF THE EXCERPTS]
No one can reliably predict the future of the Iraqi war, but people of good will can at least root for the good guys (as Mr. Clinton did, in passing, just last month, while cloaking his observation with pessimism). Make no mistake, with all our flaws accounted for, the Americans are still the good guys.
My appeal is to my fellow democrats – the sane subset who understand the scope of the current jihad against us and genuinely hope for an American victory, and to the wavering Republicans, especially those who are now tempted to give into the irresponsible voices on the left just as our forces are gaining traction.
Given the predisposition of the lefties currently running democratic party “strategery” to promote “dezinformatsiya”, we all have an obligation to stay informed with as much reliable information as possible.
Among the best information sources on the web, I recommend the “Victory Caucus” website. This is an aggregation site where a large number reports about progress in Iraq are constantly captured, and several ongoing metrics (such as oil & electricity production, sectarian violence, coalition fatalities, Iraqi control handoffs – province by province, and weapons caches found) have been compiled. These are updated, sometimes hourly. Go to http://www.victorycaucus.com/ .
We have several lessons to learn from history, but the principal one is that a strong, civilized country is capable of prevailing over its enemies as long as it remains committed to the goal.
In the struggle against the jihadists who want our defeat, not only in the Middle East, but here at home, the only thing we have to fear is fear of ourselves.
Surely, it would not be the worst thing for the next administration to find an Iraqi government, still working through its governance issues as a struggling democracy, but still in place and guarded by a substantial, though reduced, American military presence.
If I am right, this is the scenario that would follow in September when, in light of the Petraeus report, the democrats are unable to generate the votes to cut off funding or force a withdrawal by a day certain. General David Howell Petraeus may yet prove that victory belongs to the persistent.