Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Surge Is Working

At last even the New York Times is acknowledging good news in Iraq. Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack wrote an op-ed ("A War We Just Might Win") last week that was overwhelmingly positive on the surge's impact. O'Hanlon and Pollack have been nothing but critical of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq until now. "Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms... 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 key points:

  • Morale of the troops in high, as is their confidence in General Petraeus

  • Civilian fatality rates are down 1/3 since the surge began

  • Our troops are leaving formerly dangerous areas as the Iraqi securtity forces step to the plate. Much of the corruption within these forces has been removed, and our troops are much more confident in the Iraqi forces

  • A local mayor told them his greatest fear was an overly rapid American departure from Iraq

  • Iraqis are rejecting Al-Qaeda and Moktada al-Sadr’s forces

  • The Anbar province has gone from the least secure area to one of the most secure

  • The economy is showing a lot of improvement

Democrats can't afford to acknowledge any success in Iraq. They are invested in defeat. Success in Iraq is a win for the Iraqis and a win for the U.S. but it is a loss for the Democrats.

1 comment:

PB said...

Militarily it may be succeeding, but the military success in Iraqi is only successful if it allows for the factions in the Iraqi federal government to make political peace and start governing rather than directing Shiite killing squads. If the Iraqi parliament thought their country was worth the dead of our military service members, they might not have gone on vacation. Personally, given the number of US troops that are being deployed right now, our numerical commitment will need to decline in early next year, as troops need to be rotated out to get refitted and rested. Hopefully by then Iraq will be able to make it.

O'Halon and Polack, as much as I believe that they would be excellent State Department officials in an Obama Administration, are not exactly Bush critics. They strongly supported the war in 2003, and have long advocated that the United States remain in Iraq. If they have been in disagreement with Bush, it was with his strategy from November 2004 to December 2006 to move US troops out of cities and into sheltered bases.

A short-term military success, like the 2nd Battle of Falluja in November 2004, is no substitute for sustained political progress between the different factions in Iraq. The fact that all Sunni parties have left the al-Maliki government over the past week is not an encouraging sign for political progress. The decline of violence in Anbar is due in part to the US arming Sunni tribal leaders, who will rapidly become as armed as the Shiite and Kurdish militias, and will further be financially supported by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states threatened by Iran.

I hope you are right about the surge being successful, but given the spin and outright failures of this administration in Iraq, I'm not hopeful.