Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kristol and an NYT Iraq Fairy Tale

There were two opinion pieces in the NYT of note yesterday. One was by the Time's newest columnist, Bill Kristol, discussing the current situation in Iraq and the success of the surge. The other was by the mendacious editors of the NYT, discussing Iraq in far less honest terms. The two make an interesting juxtaposition.

I will not quote the NYT editorial, "Unfinished Debate on Iraq" in full beyond mention of a few points that are so outlandish as to cry out for commentary.

. . . [T]he war has receded as a major topic on the campaign trail, much to the relief of the Republican candidates, who never stray far from the party line but know that Americans overwhelmingly want the troops home.

Talk about your disingenous sleight of hand. The leftist MSM has a news blackout on Iraq because we are succeeding and the Democratic candidates have yet to have their feet held to the fire on Iraq in a debate. Obviously the NYT hasn't been reading the conservative press or watching the Republican debates. The NYT and their ilk are praying that the war will "recede" between now and November if they only close their eyes and put their fingers in their ears.

One year after Mr. Bush announced that he would try to salvage his misadventure by rushing in 30,000 more troops, casualties are down. Yet 2007 was the most violent year in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. Mr. Bush has nothing to show in the way of political progress, which is even more important for ending the war.

The surge has brought normalcy back to Iraq, crushed al Qaeda, blunted Iranian adventurism, and brought casualties down to the lowest monthly total since the initial invasion. I did not think it possible to characterize it as anything other than a military success of epic proportions. But, leave it to the NYT to find a way. And apparently, they are ignoring the passage of the de-Baathification law - one of the major benchmarks of political progress. Its the three Democratic monkeys - Hear No Success, See No Success, Speak No Success.

I could go on, but you get the idea. You can read the entire editorial here. Of far more interest - and in touch with reality - is Bill Kristol's column. As he notes, the Democratic position on Iraq has taken on the surreal notes of a "fairy tale."

. . . Obama’s view of the current situation in Iraq is out of touch with reality. In this, however, Obama is at one with Hillary Clinton and the entire leadership of the Democratic Party.

When President Bush announced the surge of troops in support of a new counterinsurgency strategy a year ago, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Democratic Congressional leaders predicted failure. Obama, for example, told Larry King that he didn’t believe additional U.S. troops would “make a significant dent in the sectarian violence that’s taking place there.” Then in April, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, asserted that “this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything.” In September, Clinton told Gen. David Petraeus that his claims of progress in Iraq required a “willing suspension of disbelief.”

The Democrats were wrong in their assessments of the surge. Attacks per week on American troops are now down about 60 percent from June. Civilian deaths are down approximately 75 percent from a year ago. December 2007 saw the second-lowest number of U.S. troops killed in action since March 2003. And according to Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of day-to-day military operations in Iraq, last month’s overall number of deaths, which includes Iraqi security forces and civilian casualties as well as U.S. and coalition losses, may well have been the lowest since the war began.

Do Obama and Clinton and Reid now acknowledge that they were wrong? Are they willing to say the surge worked?

No. It’s apparently impermissible for leading Democrats to acknowledge — let alone celebrate — progress in Iraq. When asked recently whether she stood behind her “willing suspension of disbelief” insult to General Petraeus, Clinton said, “That’s right.”

When Obama was asked in the most recent Democratic presidential debate, “Would you have seen this kind of greater security in Iraq if we had followed your recommendations to pull the troops out last year?” he didn’t directly address the question. But he volunteered that “much of that violence has been reduced because there was an agreement with tribes in Anbar Province, Sunni tribes, who started to see, after the Democrats were elected in 2006, you know what? — the Americans may be leaving soon. And we are going to be left very vulnerable to the Shias. We should start negotiating now.”

But Sunni tribes in Anbar announced in September 2006 that they would join to fight Al Qaeda. That was two months before the Democrats won control of Congress. The Sunni tribes turned not primarily because of fear of the Shiites, but because of their horror at Al Qaeda’s atrocities in Anbar. And the improvements in Anbar could never have been sustained without aggressive American military efforts — efforts that were more effective in 2007 than they had been in 2006, due in part to the addition of the surge forces.

Last year’s success, in Anbar and elsewhere, was made possible by confidence among Iraqis that U.S. troops would stay and help protect them, that the U.S. would not abandon them to their enemies. Because the U.S. sent more troops instead of withdrawing — because, in other words, President Bush won his battles in 2007 with the Democratic Congress — we have been able to turn around the situation in Iraq.

And now Iraq’s Parliament has passed a de-Baathification law — one of the so-called benchmarks Congress established for political reconciliation. For much of 2007, Democrats were able to deprecate the military progress and political reconciliation taking place on the ground by harping on the failure of the Iraqi government to pass the benchmark legislation. They are being deprived of even that talking point.

Yesterday, on “Meet the Press,” Hillary Clinton claimed that the Iraqis are changing their ways in part because of the Democratic candidates’ “commitment to begin withdrawing our troops in January of 2009.” So the Democratic Party, having proclaimed that the war is lost and having sought to withdraw U.S. troops, deserves credit for any progress that may have been achieved in Iraq.

That is truly a fairy tale. And it is driven by a refusal to admit real success because that success has been achieved under the leadership of ... George W. Bush. The horror!

Read the whole article here. No, NYT, the issue of Iraq has not receded from the political scene. I imagine it will be brought forcibly into the consciousness of all Americans between now and November. I think you will see a few ads in which the picture below gets prominent play.

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