That was the first, in what I hope is many, good indicators of how the President's new plan which now includes counterinsurgency is already showing signs of progress, despite political gameplaying by the new majority in Congress as well as the anti-war Chuck Hagel. In fact, I am SO happy that the politicians constantly booked the Senate TV Studio to parade their various ideas publicly and all against the Presidents new strategy... this will give quotes for a very long time, on those that would push for America's defeat because they are trying to conform to "polls" instead of doing all they can to win the war on terror.
Booking the Senate TV studio at 2:30 p.m. were Sens. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), with their own Iraq resolution. They had to vacate the room at 3 p.m. for the arrival of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.); Clinton floated a variation of the Dodd plan. Minutes after that session, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) issued a statement announcing legislation ordering a "phased redeployment" of U.S. troops from Iraq.
The parade of lawmakers past the microphones lured a crowd to the Senate TV studio, where nearly 200 reporters and staffers squeezed four deep in the aisles; scores more were stuck outside. "I'm not going to have any senators in here before I have order in this room!" cried the gallery director.
But the excitement was misplaced. For all the bills introduced yesterday, none is likely to force President Bush to change course in Iraq. Proposals such as Biden's are "nonbinding" and others don't have enough votes to pass. "There is very little chance in the short run that we are going to pass any legislation," Clinton confided during her news conference. Asked to elaborate, she explained: "I can count."
If anything, the competing proposals could strengthen Bush's hand. Though largely united in opposition to Bush's plan, members of Congress, carved up by the presidential ambitions of Clinton, Obama, Dodd, Biden and others, can't unite around an alternative.
"Look," McHugh acknowledged in his appearance with Clinton and Bayh yesterday, "Congress right now has no effective role in this process."
The reason this makes me happy is because instead of giving this new surge/strategy/counterinsurgency plan a chance to work, the political gameplayers preemptively declared it could not work, before it was even announced!
They have counted on the public only recognizing the word "surge" and not digging deeper to see the inherent other differences in this plan, they used the publics war weariness to try to undermine the fact that counterinsurgency is finally part of the plan for Iraq.
They miscalculated the intelligence of the American people once again.
Now, from all appearances, it is already working. This is something we must keep an eye on, al-Maliki must continue to take the hard steps and keep his end of the deal, but it is a GOOD start and it will be extremely amusing to watch these same politicians backtrack when and if it continues along this same vein.
So, yesterday we found out that al-Qaeda was ordered to retreat from Baghdad and today we see that al-Maliki is, indeed, changing his tactics and has moved against the country’s most powerful Shiite militia, arresting several dozen senior members in the past few weeks.
That would be the Mahdi Army, al-Sadr's Group.
Facing intense pressure from the Bush administration to show progress in securing Iraq, senior Iraqi officials announced Wednesday that they had moved against the country’s most powerful Shiite militia, arresting several dozen senior members in the past few weeks.
It was the first time the Shiite government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had claimed significant action against the militia, the Mahdi Army, one of the most intractable problems facing his administration. The militia’s leader, the cleric Moktada al-Sadr, helped put Mr. Maliki in power, but pressure to crack down on the group has mounted as its killings in the capital have driven a wedge into efforts to keep the country together.
Although the announcement seemed timed to deflect growing scrutiny by an American administration that has grown increasingly frustrated with Mr. Maliki, American officers here offered some support for the government’s claims, saying that at least half a dozen senior militia leaders had been taken into custody in recent weeks.
In perhaps the most surprising development, the Americans said, none of the members had been prematurely released, a chronic problem as this government has frequently shielded Shiite fighters.
“There was definitely a change in attitudes,” in the past three to four weeks, a senior American military officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Mr. Maliki, in a meeting with foreign journalists on Wednesday, said 400 Mahdi militiamen had been arrested “within the last few days,” according to a tape of the interview made available to The New York Times. A senior government official said later by telephone that the total number arrested was 420 and that they had been detained in 56 operations beginning in October. Several dozen senior leaders have been detained in the past several weeks, the senior official said on condition of anonymity. He said the total number of senior commanders did not exceed 100.
It is understandable that the critics of this new plan were skeptical that al-Maliki could keep his end of the deal and show the backbone to do what needed to be done or whether he would survive politically if he did turn against al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, but to insist that al-Maliki and the Iraqi government stand on its own, one MUST depend on him to do so in order for this new counterinsurgency plan to work.
Whatever the case, changes have been felt on the street. In Shiite neighborhoods across the capital, militia members seem to have dropped from view in recent weeks, residents and militia members say. Shiite foot soldiers have tucked away their machine guns and have melted back into bustling city blocks, preparing for what they say they believe will be an American military onslaught against them.
“They have not run checkpoints for a week,” said Ali, a merchant who lives in northern Baghdad and does business with the militia. “They hid their weapons. They are bored.”
An influential Shiite sheik, Adel Ibrahim Subihawi, said of senior Mahdi members, “They are making new passports right now to leave.”
It was not immediately clear whether the vanishing act was related to fear over the arrests or was a calculated move to wait out the coming American troop increase and prepare to re-emerge later.
Whatever the reasons, it is clear that changes are occuring and from the looks of it, those changes are for the better.
From Captain's Quarters:
It seems that Bush may have finally found the proper motivation for Maliki to put an end to the Shi'ite death squads. Now we have to help the Iraqi government find the incentives to get the Iraqis to work on rebuilding their nation.
Right Truth has her take on Hillary Clinton's new "plan on the war on terror" and she is spot on.
Hillary Clinton has finally presented her plan for the war on terror. After her trip to Iraq, complete with presidential-looking photo op with Iraqi leaders, she has decided (1) Afghanistan needs more troops; (2) Iraq needs less (or no) troops; (3) our troops need to be financed; (4) financing to the Iraqis needs to be cut off. Funny, I didn't hear one word from her about winning the war, or about victory, or the consequences of pulling troops out of Iraq. This just proves my belief that politicians should not be in charge of wars.
Read the rest it is an excellent piece!
Reconstruction takes time and as I showed previously, for us here in America, the reconstruction after our civil war was the most bloody and violent time in our history...it stands to reason that Iraq would need help, patience and understanding to get there as well as constantly changing the plan to match the conditions on the ground.
Some have it, some do not. I am personally glad George Bush has shown the patience, the understanding and have given them the help they needed and will continue to need to achieve a stable country that can sustain and defend itself.
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