Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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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, January 6, 2008

Fred Barnes on the Democrats, and the Surge question on Saturday night

Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress get it. Even the MSM gets it, and that's a stretch as they're usually the last ones to acknowledge any good that comes from a Republican, let alone a Republican president. But Fred Barnes is right to point out that the Democrat contenders can't handle the truth on the surge:

THERE'S A TRUTH THE Democratic presidential candidates can't handle: the success of the "surge" in Iraq. The addition of American troops and the adoption of a new strategy of protecting the civilian population has now dramatically reduced the level of violence in Baghdad and pacified other parts of Iraq as well. But the Democratic candidates insist on pretending otherwise.

It isn't clear whether they were uninformed, out of touch, mistaken, politically fearful, or knowingly dishonest when they were asked to comment on the surge during an ABC television debate Saturday night in New Hampshire. In any case, their refusal to acknowledge success in Iraq marked a low point in the Democratic campaign.

The most disappointing answer came from Barack Obama, the frontrunner in the race and a candidate who touts himself as one who would end political polarization in Washington and forge bipartisan solutions. But he's not likely to produce any bipartisanship on Iraq.

Obama claimed the decision by Sunnis in Iraq to embrace American forces was a response to the Democratic capture of Congress in the 2006 election. Sunnis in Anbar province "started to see, after the Democrats were elected in 2006, you know what?" They saw the likelihood of a withdrawal of U.S. troops and feared they "would be left very vulnerable to the Shias," Obama said. So they joined the Americans.

This is a figment of Obama's imagination. There's no evidence for this explanation--quite the contrary. Even before the 2006 election, Sunnis had begun to turn against al Qaeda, their one-time ally

in the insurgency, and its brutal tactics. Their rebellion against al Qaeda even has a name, the Sunni Awakening. Desperate for help against al Qaeda terrorists that they turned to Americans.

The Sunni rebellion has now spread to other provinces, particularly those with mixed Sunni-Shia populations. And political reconciliation between Sunnis and Shia is underway at the provincial level. Obama should have known this. Perhaps he did but was wary of veering from his anti-Iraq position. His bizarre take on the Sunnis remains exclusive to him.

Bill Richardson was worse than Obama. Calling Iraq "a massive failure," he made a string of inaccurate claims. He said there had been no reconciliation. Wrong. He said there had been no sharing of oil revenues. Wrong. He said the Iraq government had made no effort to train more security forces. Wrong. He said there was only a political solution in Iraq but not a military solution. The truth is, both are required.

John Edwards provided a whopper of his own. He said the withdrawal of British troops from southern Iraq caused "a significant reduction in violence." In fact, it was the British presence--not the withdrawal--for so many months that had pacified that region.

Hillary Clinton also refused to acknowledge any success in Iraq. She reaffirmed what she told General David Petraeus, the American commander in Iraq, last September during a Senate hearing. Then, she said she had to "suspend disbelief" to accept Petraeus's testimony that the surge was working.

Did she still feel that way about the surge? "That's right," Clinton told debate moderator Charles Gibson, the ABC News anchor. "Because, remember, the purpose behind the surge was to create the space and time for political reconciliation, for the Iraqi government to do what only it can do and trying to deal with the myriad of unresolved problems that confront it."

General David Petraeus rewrote the counter-insurgency (COIN) rules for the US military. And he took that strategy to Iraq. In addition to the beginnings of the Anbar Awakening, he took a strategy to help unify the Iraqis against al Qaeda, and for the indigenous people of Iraq to trust the US military. He brought a message to tribal leaders, Sunni, Shia, and Kurd -- Help me help you. They gave him that. They set aside sectarian differences in order to reclaim their nation from the totalitarian goals of not only al Qaeda, but the various militias causing problems for not only US and coalition forces, but the newly-trained and deployed Iraqi forces.

The fact that the Democrats sat on that stage Saturday, and denied that any serious progress had been made, or that the progress was already underway, is preposterous. After losing the congress in 2006, the president decided to implement a plan that was already in the works. In July of 2006, seeing the violence in Iraq go on the uptick again, the president needed a new strategy, and he assembled one with his closest advisers.

All the Democrats think that the strategy didn't help at all, and Iraq was making the turnaround on it's own. That's sort of funny, if you think about it because in 2006 many Democrats campaigned on bringing the troops home. I guess for the candidates, hindsight is 20/20, and they're willing to take credit for something they didn't have a hand in. Joe Lieberman can, but that's because he's been a stalwart supporter of the war; a position that landed him in hot water with members of his own party to the point they endorsed a cut-and-run Democrat over him in the Lieberman race for reelection.

These people can't handle the truth at all. John Edwards said he'd sit down and listen to his generals. Sure he would, but only those that agree with him. Barack Obama has pipe dreams about the Democrats giving the Iraqis the notice that they had to step up; nevermind the fact that President Bush was in regular contact with al-Maliki urging him to work harder on getting Iraq stabilized. Bill Richardson is a moron when it comes to reading Iraq. And Hillary? Let's just say I'll "suspend disbelief" that she's really this obtuse, but it's a glaring fact, and one that has hurt her campaign.

We predicted back in August of 2007 that the Democrats would try to take credit for the surge. We were partially right. those in congress did, claiming their win in 2006 forced the president to makes changes (despite the fact he was already well on his way in making those changes). The contenders to the nomination seem content on disavowing any progress has been made at all. And when they make such claims, they besmirch the honor and accomplishments of General Petraeus and the men and women he commands that have done the job that was asked of them. Voters should remember that when they cast votes this November.

Publius II


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