Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Good News the Left Does Not Want To Hear

When it comes to Iraq, the Left never wants to hear good news. It is a quagmire; a military blunder, and it was perpetuated with lies by the administration. That is what you think if you are a typical war critic on the Left, like those that sit in Congress and denounce the war yet take no responsibility for their participation in it.

Today Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack penned a piece on Iraq that will have the Left howling:

(Hat-Tip: Hugh Hewitt)

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.
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.

Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.

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.

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.

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.

But for now, things look much better than before. American advisers told us that many of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders who once infested the force have been removed. The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq).

Read the whole piece in the New York Times. It is worth it because these two men, hardly "right-wing neo-cons," have just returned from Iraq and they are seeing the same progress we have been witnessing for the past few weeks. Since mid-June when General Petreus received his final deployment of "Surge" troops, the troops on the ground have been taking the fight right back to the insurgents and jihadis.

We are working with the Sunni, Shia, and Kurds to help them stabilize the various regions still being rocked by violence. Now we go into an area, and after it is pacified, we do not leave. In the past we would, or we would leave the Iraqi military behind, only to watch the area fall back into the enemy's hands. That is not happening any longer. Now we are staying, and now we can trust the Iraqis to stick with us and stay on task. They are better trained, and we no longer have the problem of turncoats in the ranks.

The strategy is working. We knew it would work prior to it's implementation. General David Petreus, literally, rewrote the counterinsurgency handbook for the Army. He is utilizing every tactic and strategy within it. All he asks, all our troops ask, is that they be given the time they need to carry out their mission. Both Mr. O'Hanlon and Mr. Pollack acknowledge that morale is high, and the troops believe in the mission because they can see results. They can see how things are turning around. I firmly believe that had General Petreus been in Baghdad a couple of years ago, things would have been distinctly different.

This is the sort of news the Left fears. This is why they were trying to force a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq before any reports could be made, before any progress could be shown.

Think about this: The Surge troops have been in place a little over a month. They have until September -- three months -- to show that progress is being made. If General Petreus returns with news of that progress -- drastic and substantive progress -- will the Left finally shut up, and let the troops do their jobs, or will the antiwar zealots ramp up the rhetoric again, citing more "lies" from the administration?

You can please some of the people some of the time, but you will never satisfy a liberal's view of reality. It is always gloomy, and filled with malaise.



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