Friday, February 22, 2008

Krauthammer, Iraq, & And The Moving Target

Charles Krauthammer ponders the same question I raised last week. Given the very real gains in security Iraq and the Iraqi government's passage of several important laws for reconciliation, how can the partisan left still attempt to justify surrender and withdraw? Some on the left have in fact given their answers.


I posted the other day on how surreal and transparent the partisans on the left were becoming in attempting to justify defeat in Iraq in light of clear progress towards peace and reconciliation. Charles Krauthammer weighs in today on the same issue and, not surprisingly - Krauthammer leads with the report of CSIS's Anthony Cordesman:

"No one can spend some 10 days visiting the battlefields in Iraq without seeing major progress in every area. . . . If the U.S. provides sustained support to the Iraqi government -- in security, governance, and development -- there is now a very real chance that Iraq will emerge as a secure and stable state."

-- Anthony Cordesman,

"The Situation in Iraq: A Briefing From the Battlefield," Feb. 13, 2008

This from a man who was a severe critic of the postwar occupation of Iraq and who, as author Peter Wehner points out, is no wide-eyed optimist. In fact, in May 2006 Cordesman had written that "no one can argue that the prospects for stability in Iraq are good." Now, however, there is simply no denying the remarkable improvements in Iraq since the surge began a year ago.

Indeed, although Krauthammer does not point it out, Cordesman's prior criticisms were sufficiently harsh and pessimistic that the New York Times had them permanently linked at the bottom of their opinion page. To continue with Krauthammer:

Unless you're a Democrat. As Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) put it, "Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq." Their Senate leader, Harry Reid, declares the war already lost. Their presidential candidates (eight of them at the time) unanimously oppose the surge. Then the evidence begins trickling in.

. . . After agonizing years of searching for the right strategy and the right general, we are winning. How do Democrats react? From Nancy Pelosi to Barack Obama, the talking point is the same: Sure, there is military progress. We could have predicted that. (They in fact had predicted the opposite, but no matter.) But it's all pointless unless you get national reconciliation.

"National" is a way to ignore what is taking place at the local and provincial level, such as Shiite cleric Ammar al-Hakim, scion of the family that dominates the largest Shiite party in Iraq, traveling last October to Anbar in an unprecedented gesture of reconciliation with the Sunni sheiks.

Doesn't count, you see. Democrats demand nothing less than federal-level reconciliation, and it has to be expressed in actual legislation.

The objection was not only highly legalistic but also politically convenient: Very few (including me) thought this would be possible under the Maliki government. Then last week, indeed on the day Cordesman published his report, it happened. Mirabile dictu, the Iraqi parliament approved three very significant pieces of legislation.

First, a provincial powers law that turns Iraq into arguably the most federal state in the entire Arab world. The provinces get not only power but also elections by Oct. 1. U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker has long been calling this the most crucial step to political stability. It will allow, for example, the pro-American Anbar sheiks to become the legitimate rulers of their province, exercise regional autonomy and forge official relations with the Shiite-dominated central government.

Second, parliament passed a partial amnesty for prisoners, 80 percent of whom are Sunni. Finally, it approved a $48 billion national budget that allocates government revenue -- about 85 percent of which is from oil -- to the provinces. Kurdistan, for example, gets one-sixth.

What will the Democrats say now? . . .

Despite all the progress, military and political, the Democrats remain unwavering in their commitment to withdrawal on an artificial timetable that inherently jeopardizes our "very real chance that Iraq will emerge as a secure and stable state."

Why? Imagine the transformative effects in the region, and indeed in the entire Muslim world, of achieving a secure and stable Iraq, friendly to the United States and victorious over al-Qaeda. Are the Democrats so intent on denying George Bush retroactive vindication for a war they insist is his that they would deny their own country a now-achievable victory?

Read the entire article.

So far, four on the left have responded to the changes in Iraq, with Nancy Pelosi being the most completely ridiculous:

. . . [Y]ou can't get anymore surreal than Nancy Pelosi and her response to this de-Baathification law. She dismissed it during a CNN interview the other day on the grounds that it had occurred . . .

. . .

(wait for it)

. . ."

too late."

Yes. That's right. Reconciliation does not count in her alternate reality because it did not occur in time. The House Democrats apparently passed a double secret time limit. If only Maliki and Bush had known. Amazingly, Wolf Blitzer let her get away with that response without challenge - or at least no challenge I could hear over my laughter, but I digress.

Read the article here.

And Michael Kinsley has responded by not merely moving the goal posts, but moving them outside the bounds of any logic. According to Mr. Kinsley, neither the security gains nor the political progress matter in assessing whether the surge has succeeded or in judging how to proceed in Iraq. His incredibly sophmoric argument is that the surge can be labled a failure solely on the basis of how many troops we have in Iraq at the moment. But even he is not calling for withdraw now. Which sets him apart from the LA Times.

The Los Angeles Times has responded to the good news from Iraq. Captian's Quarters covers their bizarre justification for still legislating surrender, which they never quite come to grips with because they start arguing with themselves:

The Los Angeles Times editorial board not only contradicts its previous editorials on Iraq, today's editorial contradicts itself. After pushing for withdrawal from Iraq on the basis that the US and Iraqis had made no real political progress, today they argue that we should withdraw because political progress has undeniably begun. And in conclusion, they wind up arguing for exactly the opposite.

Read the post here.

And in what can only be called a major surprise, the only other far left entity to finally stop calling for withdraw after the latest legislation out of Iraq is the New York Times editorial board. Go figure.

1 comment:

Soccer Dad said...

I knew I should have e-mailed you for a link to your Krauthammer post.
I was wondering if I mis-read Kinsley, I'm glad to see that I didn't. (Though I thought he was effectively arguing for a withdrawal.)