Iraq Archives

Harry Reid Surrenders

Saddam Hussein, along with his sons Uday and Qusay, have won the day, and it’s time to come home. Chemical Ali has beaten us back. The Iraqi Information Minister is declaring to the word that the infidels have been beaten back by the Republican guard.

The war in Iraq “is lost” and a US troop surge is failing to bring peace to the country, the leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, said Thursday.

“I believe … that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week,” Reid told journalists.

Oh, sorry, that was Harry Reid declaring surrender. Easy to get him and “Comical Ali” mixed up.

Odd what some definitions of “lost” are for some folks.

“The Other Iraq”

Recently on the Public Radio program Open Source, Christopher Lydon did a show on Iraqi Kurdistan, or, as it’s PR campaign calls it, “the other Iraq”. You can listen to the show and read the show notes here on Radio Open Source. He interviewed Qubad Talabani, Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Representative to the United States and son of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, KRG Representative to the United Kingdom, and Peter Galbraith, former (and first) Ambassador to Croatia under Clinton, Senior Diplomatic Fellow at the Center for Arms Control, and Non-Proliferation Advisor to the KRG.

For some, it may be an eye-opening program. From the discussion of how Americans were indeed greeted as liberators, to the economic prosperity, to the lack of sectarian violence among the Sunni, Shia and Christian Kurds, this program should give pause to those saying we should get out of Iraq ASAP. In fact, both the Kurdish guests warned against a withdrawal too early. (Ambassador Galbraith, predictably, disagreed. More on that in a moment.)

The program was quite a departure from Lydon’s show’s usual fare. As is typical for public radio, the slate of guests is often slanted liberal, and many time 100% so. Lydon calls his show a “conversation”, but it usually is a monologue from the Left. To have a program extolling the good things that have come from the war (even if the host can’t bring himself to agree, insinuating that some of the responses sounded like “fantasy”) is equal time that has been sorely missing from the media at large. Kudos to Lydon and the PRI folks for finally, if really belatedly, bringing the news.

The cognitive dissonance was deafening when Peter Galbraith did disagree at the end of the show with the idea of staying in Iraq. Here were the very people he’s working to help asking for our continued help, and all he can do is shill for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid (by name) and say that, as she does, we need to get out of there because the Iraqi experiment has failed.

I’d ask him, and anyone else who said that the war in Iraq was and is a failure; what do you say to the Kurds? Were they and all other Iraqis not worth the effort to get rid of Hussein and his terror supporting and practicing regime? Just because some may not be handling freedom as well as we’d hoped, should we have left them all to the designs of the Ba’athists? If you blame the US for the violence in the south, are you prepared to credit the US for the peace and prosperity in the north?

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It’s Working

Violence in Baghdad has decreased significantly recently.

BAGHDAD — The U.S. Army has reported a sharp decrease in insurgency attacks in Baghdad.

In the week of Feb. 24 to March 2, officials said, insurgency strikes and suicide bombings dropped for the fourth consecutive week in Baghdad. They linked this to the steady increase of security patrols in the city.

Emphasis mine, to note where one could replace those words with “surge”.

The army said violence has decreased by 80 percent in the most insurgency-ridden areas of Baghdad. Officials said Shi’ite and Sunni insurgents have been overwhelmed by the current joint Iraqi-U.S. operation in the Iraqi capital.

It’s working.

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Evidence of “The Great Misreading”

After the election, I noted that some right-of-center pundits were saying that while the Democrats won big in the election, conservative values won big as well. No, that’s not a contradiction. I said that the actions of the Democrats has been a great misreading of the election results which, as had been noted by others, was the election of more moderate Democrats, not the leftist kind.

Today comes proof of it. Blue Dog Democrats are asserting their power.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faced scorn from fellow Democrats during a recent closed-door meeting for not moving more aggressively on Iraq, it was conservative Blue Dogs _ her ideological opposites _ who rose to defend her.

The unlikely support reflected an emerging dynamic in the House, where the 43 right-of-center fiscal hawks are increasingly asserting their power, working to moderate the policies and image of a party with a liberal base and leaders to match.

The coalition’s name is a play on yellow dog Democrats, an epithet that came into being in the 1920s to describe party loyalists in the South who, it was said, would vote for a yellow dog if it ran on the Democratic ticket. Democrats who said their moderate to conservative views had been “choked blue” by the party’s liberal flank started referring to themselves as blue dogs and formed their group after Republicans swept control of the House in 1994.

With Democrats in charge again, the Blue Dogs have played a key role in halting an emerging plan to place strict conditions on war funding. Their revolt helped beat back that proposal, by Pelosi ally John Murtha, D-Pa. Leaders are now considering a watered-down version.

These moderate Democrats push fiscal responsibility and are putting the brakes on the Pelosi/Murtha wing who are charting a course for Iraqi killing fields. As much as the anti-war crowd would hope for it, and as much as the Democrat leadership talks it, support for cut-and-run is weak. Further, fiscal irresponsibility (from either party) is not what the election was about, either. The last election was indeed a referendum on how Republicans have been running the government, and while the public doesn’t like how the war has gone, they elected more Democrats who don’t want to just bail out post haste. Any suggestion otherwise is to blindly ignore those very election results they continue to trumpet.

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Name That Warmonger

Who said this in a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting while questioning John Michael McConnell, Director of National Intelligence?

I was just wondering, does the military have a plan to, if necessary, to go into Syria to go to the source of any weapons coming from Syria? That are going to Sunni insurgents? That are killing our troops? … I think we ought to take action on all fronts including Syria and any other source of weapons coming in, obviously Iran is the focus – but it shouldn’t be the sole focus.

What member of the committee asked if the military had a plan for dealing with Syria and Iran?

Are you sitting down? No really, are you?

The answer is:

Read the rest of this entry

The Great Misreading

And so it begins.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 – Democratic leaders in the Senate vowed on Sunday to use their new Congressional majority to press for troop reductions in Iraq within a matter of months, stepping up pressure on the administration just as President Bush is to be interviewed by a bipartisan panel examining future strategy for the war.

The Democrats – the incoming majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada; the incoming Armed Services Committee chairman, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan; and the incoming Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware – said a phased redeployment of troops would be their top priority when the new Congress convenes in January, even before an investigation of the conduct of the war.

“We need to begin a phased redeployment of forces from Iraq in four to six months,” Mr. Levin said in an appearance on the ABC News program “This Week.” In a telephone interview later, Mr. Levin added, “The point of this is to signal to the Iraqis that the open-ended commitment is over and that they are going to have to solve their own problems.”

This is a clear violation of truth in labelling. Remember, one year ago, the Democrats voted overwhelmingly against this very maneuver. Their main voice in this, John Murtha, called for it and wrote his own resolution on the matter. The Republicans didn’t bring Murtha’s up for a vote, but did bring up a virtually identical one that the Dems were completely against. See here for a comparison. They wouldn’t put their votes where their mouths were, and apparently didn’t want to be considered the Cut and Run Party. But now that they have control of the legislature, and think they have a mandate for their position, they’re going full steam ahead.

This is most likely a huge misreading of the recent election results. The NY Times wrote an article on one of their polls, which, unsurprisingly, tilts left (e.g. they ask which party is more likely to bring the troops home, but doesn’t ask which party is more likely to achieve victory). What isn’t covered but requires you to click on a sidebar link is one of the questions about strategy. Only 27% want to remove all troops from Iraq. Those who want to continue the current strategy (8%) plus those who want a change in strategy (61%) compromise a vast majority (69%) that want, not this retreat the Democrats will propose, but a course that will lead to something that the poll respondents consider victory.

Yes, everyone’s got their own idea of what this should be (mine is an Iraqi democracy that can defend itself, thought you really can’t call the removal of Hussein’s regime and the killing and capturing of many top al Qaeda honchos a complete “defeat”). But the point is that the Democrats are looking at a general dissatisfaction with the prosecution of the war and mistaking it for dissatisfaction with simply being in the war.

This is the Vietnam blunder; bailing out of an unpopular war before the job’s done, and allowing the region to descend into chaos for a generation. Until Iraq is ready to stand on its own, someone else will have to hold them up. Either it’ll be us, or it’ll be one of the many other factions eager to toast the fledgling democracy. The Democrats are either refusing to remember history, or are playing politics with the lives of the Iraqis, whom they claim concern over when they hear civilian casualty figures. And yet they wish to set us on a course that will condemn far more to death in a struggle for power and, based on the winner, that struggle’s aftermath.

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The View From a Sergeant

James Taranto’s “Best of the Web Today” today has an e-mail from a soldier in Iraq. With his experience with what’s going on with the Army, the culture and the changing circumstances, his suggestion is that the correct policy needs to be something between “stay the course” and “cut and run”. It seems to me to be a very insightful look at reality there. Some of his suggestions are, I’ll admit, tough to swallow if indeed they’d be necessary. Definitely worth the read (and as always, getting the daily e-mail of this column is recommended). He concludes:

James, there’s a lot more to this than I’ve written here. The short of it is, the situation is salvageable, but not with “stay the course” and certainly not with cut and run. However, the commitment required to save it is something I doubt the American public is willing to swallow. I just don’t see the current administration with the political capital remaining in order to properly motivate and convince the American public (or the West in general) of the necessity of these actions.

At the same time, failure in Iraq would be worse than a dozen Somalias, and would render us as impotent and emasculated as we were in the days after Vietnam. There is a global cultural-ideological struggle being waged, and abdication from Iraq is tantamount to concession.

Later, Taranto quotes Nancy Pelosi, who’d most likely be Speaker of the House after a majority Democrat win.

“But you don’t think that the terrorists have moved into Iraq now?” Stahl continues.

“They have,” Pelosi agrees. “The jihadists in Iraq. But that doesn’t mean we stay there. They’ll stay there as long as we’re there.”

She seems to think (or is trying to sell us on the idea) that the moment we leave, all will be well with the world and the jihadists will become model citizens or at least stop attacking American interests. As the sergeant tells us (gotta read the whole thing), there’s more going on than just terrorism, and it’s not easily dealt with, and especially not dealt with by running away.

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Iraq: “Please Don’t ‘Cut & Run'”

The Iraqi government sounds to me like it would like you to vote Republican, please.

Iraq’s deputy prime minister today urged the international community not to “cut and run” from his country.

Barham Salih called for realism but not defeatism

Barham Salih was speaking after talks with Tony Blair amid growing pressure on both sides of the Atlantic for an “exit strategy” for the withdrawal of American and British troops from Iraq.

Mr Salih said in Downing Street that the future of Iraq was vital to the future of the Middle East and world order.

“This is a society that was traumatised by 35 years of tyranny and trying to build a functioning democracy in the heart of the Islamic Middle East.”

The elected government of Iraq needed to make tough choices, but for some time it would be reliant on the support of the international community, he said.

As I’ve noted before, even the United States didn’t have a constitutional government spring forth immediately following the Revolutionary War. It took years for us to agree on a Constitution, and even that took more than one attempt. (The first attempt gave too little power to the national government.) Further, we were not nearly as oppressed by the government we threw off as the Iraqis have been. A lot of long-buried tensions have come to the surface, as well as the influence of terrorists and nearby rogue states that don’t want to see democracy work in the region. Leaving before Iraq is ready will simply fulfill the politically-motivated prophesies that the Left has been pronouncing since the war started.

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Chaos? No. Struggle? Yes. Hope? Definitely!

Dean Esmay highlights some of the interview answers the President of Iraq. (Full story here.) Check his list out regarding the President’s view of what some call the “chaos” in his country.

I’d like to highlight a couple of other quotes.

When should the U.S. troops leave?

In seven provinces, the American army has withdrawn. The Iraqi army is replacing American forces in many cities. We hope that at the end of this year we will be able to control 12 provinces. We will remain in need of the American and coalition forces until we’ve trained our army and will be able to face terrorism and defeat it.

How long will that be?

I think within two years we will be able to train our army and have the capacity to face terrorism. . . . The presence of American forces — even a symbolic one — will frighten those who are trying to interfere in our affairs.

Not all, I imagine, but enough to make a difference, I’m sure. Seems the Murtha wing of the Democratic Party needs to consider the positive effect our troops are having there.

Now, one of the parties this is supposed to frighten is Iran, and the President says he got “real and serious promises” from them to not meddle in Iraq’s affairs. I’ve got a hefty bit of skepticism there, to be sure. However, there’s no doubt that Iran would consider it open season on Iraq were we to leave completely. Not even President Talabani wants that.

Would you welcome U.S. bases in Kurdistan?

Yes, they are welcome. Kurdistan wants the Americans to stay. In some places Sunnis want the Americans to stay — Sunnis think the main danger is coming from Iran now. There is a change in the mind of the Sunnis. The Sunnis are for having good relations with America. The [Shiites] have started to think that.

Will the U.S. put bases in Kurdistan?

I think we will be in need of American forces for a long time — even two military bases to prevent foreign interference. I don’t ask to have 100,000 American soldiers — 10,000 soldiers and two air bases would be enough. This will be [in] the interest of the Iraqi people and of peace in the Middle East.

Imagine that. Here’s a middle eastern President suggesting that an American presence will promote peace in the region. And which party isn’t willing to do that?

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The Captain At Bat

Captain Ed participated in a forum at Macalester College on the Iraq War last night. He posted his opening remarks on his blog, and I think it’s a great overall view of why the war was the right thing to do in general, even if, as happens in most wars, the execution wasn’t and isn’t letter-perfect.

He has a follow-up post this morning on how it all went.

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