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Monday, July 30, 2007

War Critic Sees Tide Turning in Iraq: UPDATED & Bumped with more Reax

[Updated and bumped, more reactions below the original post]

A man who has been very critical of the war in Iraq as well as a man that was for our actions in Iraq, before he was against them, having now visited Iraq, both men come back to report in the New York Times an excellent article, titled "A War We Just Might Win".

The two men are Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack and it is this type f news, finally being brought to Americans that are responsible for American support slowly inching up. We are finally seeing the good news about how the surge is working that even the liberal MSM cannot hide anymore.

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(Continued from above)

VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: 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.

The writers of this piece also make the comparison of troop morale from the previous visits to this last one.

After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.


In Ramadi, for example, we talked with an outstanding Marine captain whose company was living in harmony in a complex with a (largely Sunni) Iraqi police company and a (largely Shiite) Iraqi Army unit. He and his men had built an Arab-style living room, where he met with the local Sunni sheiks — all formerly allies of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups — who were now competing to secure his friendship.

Baghdad’s Ghazaliya neighborhood:

In Baghdad’s Ghazaliya neighborhood, which has seen some of the worst sectarian combat, we walked a street slowly coming back to life with stores and shoppers. The Sunni residents were unhappy with the nearby police checkpoint, where Shiite officers reportedly abused them, but they seemed genuinely happy with the American soldiers and a mostly Kurdish Iraqi Army company patrolling the street. The local Sunni militia even had agreed to confine itself to its compound once the Americans and Iraqi units arrived.

Other areas:

We traveled to the northern cities of Tal Afar and Mosul. This is an ethnically rich area, with large numbers of Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens. American troop levels in both cities now number only in the hundreds because the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. Reliable police officers man the checkpoints in the cities, while Iraqi Army troops cover the countryside. A local mayor told us his greatest fear was an overly rapid American departure from Iraq. All across the country, the dependability of Iraqi security forces over the long term remains a major question mark.

Read page #2 of the article to see for yourself, the progress, the challenges that still face our troops and the overwhelming feeling of succeeding.... at least until they look to Washington, the only place that still has not gotten the memo: The surge is working better and faster than imagined by even those implementing it.

The buzz is full of those that cannot accept that we may, indeed have a chance to succeed in Iraq, those that are so heavily invested in defeat that no amount of reality can check their disturbing hatred.

Whether they admit or ignore it, or try to distort it or distract from it, it doesn't change the fact that after all the work, suffering and death, we now have a formula that is working in Iraq.

I will bring you reactions to this article shortly.

If you are one of the people that criticize this NYT article, perhaps you could answer four little simple questions that I pose in my followup piece.

[Update with reactions]

Hot Air states:

Read the whole thing. There is good news coming out of Iraq, but unfortunately the cacophony in Washington may drown it out.

Villainous Company
points out that the reason news of the surges success hasn't gotten to the American people is because the media has worked to undermine and refute that message...until now. (Read it, she really lets the media have it)

Just One Minute says:

Wow. Combine that with the NY Times poll results and one might infer that the Dems need to pin down Bush's defeat before it slips away from them. WILLisms has more on this.

The Moderate Voice points out that those that do not like the message of this NYT article would rather shoot the messenger because of the message:

So, when even critics concede rays of hope, are others willing to follow suit? Some might, though certainly not all. From TalkLeft:

I have a new litmus test for the Dem Presidential candidates - they must promise not to have Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollock in their administration.

And there we have what’s wrong with today’s politics in a nutshell: Someone doesn’t like the message, so they shoot the messengers.

Captain's Quarters has his usual wonderful analysis of the information in the NYT article.

Michael Goldfarb points to Power Line, who is saying what we have been saying for a couple months now:

This analysis--that the military is making significant progress in Iraq, and that the political situation remains the major hurdle to success in that country--conforms well with much of the reporting that has come out of Iraq recently. But as Powerline's John Hinderaker points out this morning, the real fear is "that the leadership of the Democratic Party sees progress on the ground in Iraq as bad news, not good. I think many Congressional Democrats are committed to defeat, for political and ideological reasons."

That is it in a nutshell, as we showed you the other day, the Democratic politicians are so heavily invested in failure that any good news from Iraq is ignored or treated with disdain becauss they instinctively understand that Good News from Iraq is definitely bad news for them, as a party.

Jules Crittenden points out that with this latest article in the New York Times, someone from that paper obviously didn't get the memo...LOL

Definitely head over and read Dean Barnett at Townhall with "If They've Lost Brookings..."

The buzz from the left is exactly what we have come to expect whenever good news from Iraq comes out in the MSM, they attack, they distort, they try to distract and they will never admit that we may just have a chance to succeed in Iraq.

[Update #2] NewsBusters points out that it is not just this NYT article, but other liberals are starting express points we have been mentioning since the inception of this blog as well as other blogs and sources have been expressing for quite a while now: Optimism and consequences of a premature withdrawal:

On Sunday, NewsBusters reported a shocking discussion that ensued on "The Chris Matthews Show" wherein five liberal media members actually debated why America shouldn't withdraw its troops from Iraq.

Maybe more shocking, the following day, an op-ed was published in the New York Times claiming that "We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, "morale is high," and, as a result, this is "a war we just might win."

Adding to the shock is that this piece was written by two members of the Brookings Institution, which even Wikipedia acknowledges is "widely regarded as being politically liberal." The authors - Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack - described themselves as "two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration's miserable handling of Iraq."

Not anymore. Better prepare yourself for an alternate reality

It seems that the more the MSM is being forced to acknowledge the progress and success being seen in Iraq, the more the moderates of the liberal or "progressive" party are not wishing to be left out in the cold and jumping the defeatists ships.

The tide is not only turning in Iraq, it is starting to turn here in America.

Victory and success are not such dirty words after all, except to the Democratic politicians.

[Updating with more reactions]

Times Online now has a piece out with the title "Leaving now not the way out of Iraq"

It discusses the failures and challenges, but it ends on yet another high note:

“So many of us have great Iraqi friends now,” he says. “We know their families. As soldiers, we go there and we’re at risk but nobody complains. These people are caught in the violence; they don’t deserve it. The war will not stop if we leave. It will get worse. We can’t allow that to happen.”

If there had been more McMasters in Baghdad in the beginning, and less US hubris, Iraqis might be in a far better position.

QandO points out the Democratic "plan" to counter the success being seen on the ground:

I've mentioned before the huge difference a strong commander can make, and despite the nonsensical and baseless mutterings of Harry Reid concerning Petraeus' competence and veracity, he has made a huge difference in the fight in Iraq. However, as most have surmised, the evolving plan among many on the left is to destroy his credibility so that no matter what he says in September, they can dismiss it. When you can't fight the facts, resort to character assassination.

The Telegraph speaks about Maliki and Petraeus.

America's top general in Iraq yesterday quashed reports of a breakdown in his relationship with Iraq's prime minister over American support for Sunni Muslim fighters battling al-Qa'eda.

General David Petraeus poured scorn on a claim by an Iraqi politician that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki requested his dismissal after bitter rows. "I don't know where that is coming from," Gen Petraeus said. "He and I have truly had frank conversations but he has never yelled or stood up. This is really, really hard stuff, and occasionally people agree to disagree."

Colonel Steven Boylan, a spokesman for Gen Petraeus, said Mr Maliki had not complained directly to President George W Bush about the highly regarded American commander overriding his government. He said: "Gen Petraeus and other key staff has sat in on every video teleconference with PM Maliki and President Bush and never has this been even hinted at."

Urban Grounds points to the fact that the words from people that have only gotten their "news" from our MSM, often change their minds once they have been to Iraq and see the "whole truth" instead of the cherry picked items that is often shown.

Most of the people claiming that the war in Iraq is not winnable fall into two camps (many of them fall into both camps): 1) they’ve never been to Iraq (and definitely haven’t been to Iraq since 2003), and 2) have never served in the military, yet somehow still have a better understanding of military strategy and warfare management than our Nation’s top battle-proven Generals.

But, funny things can happen when those same skeptics and naysayers actually go to Iraq and see with their own eyes what is happening, and talk to the actual soldiers with boots on the ground.

Sister Toldjah imagines that all this good news is going to spin the heads of the collective left.... personally I think we should be hearing explosions as their heads simply implode from these MSM stories.

Joe Klein, by no means a fan of the administration nor the Iraq war, but all the same knows what the consequences of failure will be, comments on the piece here.

Wow - in one day, three prominent lefties are agreeing that the Iraq war is worth winning and winnable. The far left’s collective head must be spinning around on its neck a la Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

INDC Journal points out Greenwald's knee jerk reactions and points to the flaws in those arguments.

UPDATE: And we must note the inevitable and predictable Glenn Greenwald pushback on the op-ed, where he seeks to undermine the credibility of the authors by painting them as "yes-men." He starts with quotations of an interview done with O'Hanlon in 2003, where the analyst asserts that the counterinsurgency is going "fairly well" and minimizes the violence. Problematically for Greenwald, at various times the Iraq war has gone better than others - the bombing of the Al-Askari Mosque in 2006 being the real turning point for the road to hell-in-a-handbasket - and this Greenwaldian ignorance of context (sometimes willfull, sometimes not) sets one's teeth grinding. The descent of the policy was not irrevocably obvious in the first year of the occupation, except to those who had predetermined Iraq's fate as a hellish one spurred by US intervention.

Too much reaction coming in too fast to list it all here, but Take Our Country Back accurately describes the effect it is having on the left, its making them more insane, so head over to memeorandum and watch the buzzzzzzzz.

[Update number...whatever] Thanks for the email from Coalition of the Swilling for pointing out one of their posts:

But major dad and I already knew his opinions had taken a remarkable turn because of his appearance this weekend on CNN's This Week at War. My immediate reaction was, "Has CNN lost their collective minds broadcasting something this positive?"
...FOREMAN: So what's the real situation on the ground? Arwa Damon is in our Baghdad bureau. CNN military analyst Brigadier David Grange, U.S. Army retired joins us from Chicago and here in Washington Michael O'Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, just back from Iraq. Michael, let me start with you. The basic question, is the surge working?

MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: In military terms, yes. Two big reasons, one, we are doing very well against al Qaeda in Iraq. I don't want to jump into this whole debate about whether they're taking orders from Osama bin Laden or not, but they have an extreme ideology and they have gone so far that the Sunni-Arab tribes are now fighting against them. I walked through the streets of Ramadi a couple of days ago without body armor. That city is turned around, 95 percent reduction of violence because the Sunni sheikhs and tribes are with us now against al Qaeda. That's going great. The sectarian violence much less well resolved so far, but at least we've put a bit of a cap or a lid on it with our greater troop strength. So that's the more long-term problem.

But the fight against al Qaeda is going brilliantly at the moment.

Wow and I mean WOW. We guessed CNN had not completely given up their agenda, as the actual CNN Baghdad correspondent (ARWA DAMON) was trying mightily to throw cold water on everything O'Hanlon said.

Finish reading that piece, it is that good.

Thanks for the email Beege!!!!!