Monday, July 30, 2007

NY Times: Two Liberals Turn Tail On Iraq Loss:
Yanking Stability from the Jaws of Defeat?

(Update below)
Two liberals from the Brookings Institute, Michael E. O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack published an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times today, (HT: Powerline here), grudgingly observing that the war in Iraq just may be a war we could . . . ahhhh . . . win.

Well, they don't quite say that. Not yet, anyway. They delicately sidestep the use of the term "victory," of course, preferring instead to choke up a familiar diplomatic alliterative euphemism -- "sustainable stability." That put them on the same page as Iraqi Ambassador Ryan Crocker, in his remarks just the other day. Said he, as quoted in a Steven Hurst AP article:

"I think it is very important that for own interests that we stay with this until Iraq gets to the point of sustainable stability, I think that can be done."

And though Scanlon and Pollock were quick to charge that the Bush Administration "has over four years lost essentially all credibility" on the War, they nevertheless concede that Administration critics have indeed failed to take note of several positive changes taking place in Iraq.

Well, it's not like the ignoring of specific successes, as well as shortcomings, haven't been repeatedly pointed out by Michael Yon, or Michael Totten and a slew of milbloggers, and other new media critics all along. Here, for example, is some incredible recent reporting of Michael Yon on us working with Iraqi insurgents, and how we are persuading them to come over to our side. This kind of reporting never makes it into your average newspaper. And Michelle Malkin links to the latest dispatch from Michael Totten.

Yet O'Hanlon and Pollock are incapable of acknowledging anything sounding like praise for even the Administration's recent handling of the conflict, notwithstanding acknowledging several recent successes. Check, for example, the inherent inconsistency in this introductory statement of theirs:
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.

Live with? Basically, these two sound a little unhappy, don't they? Don't they seem to be saying that Americans could grudgingly learn to "live with" success? They're only talking to the left when they say things that way.

Perhaps these two are ringing what amounts to a political two minute warning bell for all the liberal Democrat Presidential candidates and congressional leaders (a repetitious redundancy if there ever was one), to cautiously eschew the scheduling of any more specific funeral dirges for this war. One recalls Harry Reid announcing that the war "is lost" and basically calling General Petraeus a liar, alleging that the surge had failed back in mid-April, well before the extra troops had even arrived! Or the ill-timed scheduling of the congressional vote on the Levin/Reed "al-Qaeda Enabling Act of 2007." Or, maybe they're cautioning against holding any more hearings where congressional members openly and personally attack our military leaders, at least for the time being?

It seems unlikely the Democrat leadership will listen. Having arguably spent the entire good will of their political victory last fall, in an unceremonious, undisguised, and ill-advised series of attempts to force a humiliating military defeat on this country, these Democrats are now singularly ill-equipped to find, or even recognize any neutral middle ground.

If this nation and the coalition should succeed in Iraq in spite of them, they lose. And their entire current lineup of Presidential contenders are hopelessly locked into endlessly parroting their nutroot base's Bush-hate rhetoric, so that any attempt by any of them to pull back now will backfire with their legions of primary voters. None of them dare. And who would be the Fred Thompson to those pygmies? There is no Scoop Jackson in that party, let alone a Senator Vandenberg!

Here are a few of the specific developments in Iraq that O’Hanlon and Pollack now acknowledge:

Troop Morale Up:

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.

What happened? Wasn't the leftie "plan" to undermine troop morale? The New Republic (TNR) had just launched (subscription needed for full article) their latest salvo with the "Scott Thomas" story in that regard, that is until serious questions began to surface, and it suspiciously turned into what Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post reported was a TNR concession that the story was an inside job. Hack job would be more like it.

O’Hanlon and Pollock also note significant other good news.

Improvements in Security and Providing Basic Services:

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.

Other things these two liberals point out we are now doing well in Iraq include, holding areas until they are fully secured.

And, they say, we are successfully persuading the Iraqis into helping to fight the right enemies, i.e., al-Qaeda and other Salafists. They will have to patiently explain why this latter one is a positive development to Katie Couric, and the folks over at CBS News, who allege that this is all just Bush propaganda – his "new rationale."

O’Hanlon and Pollock also note that the

coalition’s new Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams are working. Wherever we found a fully staffed team, we also found local Iraqi leaders and businessmen cooperating with it to revive the local economy and build new political structures. (my emphasis added)

And outside of Baghdad, they point out that a new focus on decentralizing power is working surprisingly well, too.

They also note areas of what they believe are shortcomings, especially on the political front with many politicians "of all stripes" resisting reaching accommodations where they are needed. Please read it -- it sounds like a pitch-perfect description of the new Congress.

But in the end, even these two "progressives" conclude that,

there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.

Given the nearly completely opposite view, driving a daily drumbeat of harsh criticism from the Democrat party leadership for so long now, isn't it just possible there has been a dogged blindness on the part of the Democrats to any precurser signs of progress all along? Or that there has been a complete lack of respect for balance in reporting the news out of Iraq by this nation's left-leaning mainstream media?

As for the Democrats' staunch supporters in the media -- enablers really -- won't this talk of possible success likely prove very confusing?

Sustainable stability? What is that?

Perhaps we could think about it historically. Let's see . . .

"Sustainable stability" has really meant unabashed victory to several generations, and thus, millions upon millions of Korean people living below the 38th parallel, for over half a century. Hasn't it?

Oh well, somebody call "Okinawa Jack" Murtha, and break the news.

There go the damned Viet-Nam analogies!

(Update: 6:53 pm) Dean Barnett from Hugh Hewitt notes the anticipated reaction from the left -- personal attacks mounted on the two authors of the Op-Ed, with no effort to address what they actually observed. Given that, how likely is it that there should be anything other than personal invective coming from the Democrat leadership?

Dean also links to a Michael Goldfarb piece posted today at the Weekly Standard regarding the piece, and noting the strange behavior of Congresswoman Nancy Boyda (D-KS) during hearings at the end of last week. Boyda sits on the House Armed Services Committee, and on Friday, she actually got up and left the room rather than listen to the testimony of retired General Keane. She later returned to the hearing, only to deliver a rant about how she refused to listen to claims regarding Iraq "that it's a place that I might take the family for a vacation . . ."

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

CBS News to the American Public:
"Don't Believe Your Lying Eyes!"

Though the news hasn't really filtered through to the American public yet, stories elsewhere are beginning to report what should be obvious -- that our nation's new "surge" strategy in Iraq is beginning to take hold in a very important way. We are confronting and taking down al-Qaeda, with implications that reach well beyond Iraq.

For example, a few days ago, the Times of London independently reported on serious problems al-Qaeda is beginning to encounter in Iraq, this report filed from the Sunni enclave in the city of Doura, located in southern Iraq.

When Abu Shahid (nom de guerre), was nabbed in Mosul on July 4th, the immediate intelligence potential was obvious. Not only was he known to have long been the key intermediary contact to senior al-Qaeda leadership outside of Iraq, but when interrogated he also served up the fact that both the mystery leader, "Abu Omar al-Baghdadi," and the supposed organization he headed, the so-called "Islamic State of Iraq," were both fakes. "Baghdadi's" voice was that of an Iraqi actor. It was all necessary, primarily because al-Qaeda in Iraq is riddled with foreigners who are wantonly targeting Iraqi citizens.

Thus, the potential for the ongoing disruption of the al-Qaeda both in Iraq, and throughout their worldwide network, should be quite plain.

As stated in the AP story (above) regarding Abu Shahid's capture:

In an effort to give al-Qaida an Iraqi face, Bergner said al- Mashhadani and al-Masri established a front organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq, which the general described as "a virtual organization in cyberspace."

In Web postings, the Islamic State of Iraq has identified its leader as Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, a name indicating Iraqi origin, with the Egyptian al-Masri as minister of war. There are no known photos of al- Baghdadi.

Bergner said al-Mashhadani had told interrogators that al-Baghdadi is a "fictional role" created by al-Masri and that an actor with an Iraqi accent is used for audio recordings of speeches posted on the Web.

CBS, however, has decided to report that the President is lying.

Powerline's John Hinderaker has parsed the issue best, in a post with links to the full text of President's speech, a video clip of the CBS Report on the speech, which John followed with a complete, statement-by-statement take-down of the CBS report. He appropriately entitled the post, "An Intent to Misinform?"

Frankly, I think John might well have dropped the question mark at the end. There is no question what CBS News was doing.

When the President spoke about al-Qaeda in Iraq in Charleston, South Carolina on Tuesday, and CBS News Evening News was obviously unable to find any other way to turn what he said into bad news, they chose instead to report the President's emphasis on our ongoing role, and the emerging coalition success against al-Qaeda in Iraq. They pegged it as some sort of nefarious shift on the part of the President regarding what he has said about why we are pursuing the surge strategy in Iraq in the first place.

Katie Couric introduced the report, noting that the President had again defended his Iraq policy earlier in the day, "but this time with a new rationale." She then turned it over to CBS Chief Whitehouse Correspondent, Jim Axelrod, who asserted that "the rationale is clearly shifting," and, further, intoned that this supposedly new rationale is a "clear contradiction" of the President's speech back on January 10th of this year.

As John Hinderacker carefully shows in his post, in a careful line by line analysis, it is absolutely nothing of the sort.

The contradiction, it seems, is about what the Democrat leadership had tried to claim, and what they used as a basis for supporting their recently failed attempt to force a preemptory withdraw from Iraq. As noted here earlier, both the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, were falling all over one another in the run-up to the vote on the Levin/Reed troop withdraw resolution the other day, asserting that we need to get out of Iraq in order to fight al-Qaeda.

But as the President correctly points out, we are indeed fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq, a terror group that has long sworn complete allegiance to Osama bin Laden.

As John incredulously concluded his post:

So: President Bush said that we are fighting al Qaeda in Iraq in January; he has said it more than 40 times since, including yesterday. There was no contradiction. CBS was wrong.

CBS's report creates a conundrum. It is inconceivable that CBS's reporters would broadcast this segment without reading President Bush's speech of January 10. It is equally inconceivable that they could read that speech without realizing that there is, in fact, no contradiction between it and the President's speech in South Carolina yesterday. The obvious inference is that CBS has deliberately chosen to mislead and misinform its viewers on the most vital issue of our time. I would much rather not believe that. But what other explanation can there be?

Coming from the same news network that brought you the late-in-the-game effort to destroy the candidacy of Presidential candidate George Bush by using false documents, one can only guess that there are highly partisan elements deep within the CBS news division who are obviously still in the driver's seat, and simply have never caught on to the appropriate lesson, and likely never will.

With all their loose talk about clarity -- "the rationale clearly shifting" and the "clear contradiction" -- it looks like the only thing that is not changing, is the fundamentally dishonest reporting at CBS. That much is quite clear.

The "talking face" at CBS News may have changed, but the ratings continue to show that the public's faith in their ability to report a straight story is shaken.

This story demonstrates that CBS is still very much on their game, bogus news and all. And it also shows how that partisanship had metastasized within the division, and that the removal of Rather and Mapes was simply no cure.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Shirts 'n Skins?
Get Your al-Qaeda Tee Shirts Right Here!

Consider the "al-Qaeda Enabling Act of 2007," just defeated in the United States Senate early Wednesday morning. The following Op Ed, minus the source links, and with a few minor edits, appears today, Friday, July 20, 2007, on the Voices page, A11, of the Daily Record (Morristown, NJ).

A Timetable Now Ensures Victory for al-Qaeda

San Francisco Chronicle Columnist, Debra Saunders, put it best:
It simply is too soon to be talking about the surge failing. U.S. forces in Iraq did not meet full surge strength until June 15. It makes no sense to send an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq, then not give them the time to do their job.
It also makes no sense to call for a change in plans now that the Bush administration is doing what critics demanded -- increasing troops and changing strategy. More important, there is evidence that the surge and the Petraeus approach to fighting counterinsurgency are working.

Presidential Assistant for National Security Affairs, Stephen Hadley, noted on Fox that, "hearing from our commanders on the ground in September is the first step."

But Congress is trying to prematurely jam through a timetable for withdraw.

"It makes no sense to wait until September," intones Senator Carl Levin of Michigan.

Regardless of
progress on many "benchmarks" of the Iraq Study Group, including notable success in Anbar province, Levin eschews any chance for success of the surge. He demands American troops begin leaving within 120 days, with the denouement in April, 2008.

Two squishy Republican Senators, John Warner of Virginia and Richard Lugar of Indiana, as described in the New York Times,
have proposed requiring "President Bush to present a strategy by October that began limiting the involvement of American forces."

Like Hillary Clinton, they crave political cover, demanding the President seek reauthorization of what they term an "obsolete" war resolution. Barack Obama
calls her approach "convoluted," favoring the timetable.

Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid drone on how we must re-deploy from Iraq to refocus on fighting al-Qaeda. Yet, that is what we are doing there, containing and defeating al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda’s strategy was to foment sectarian violence throughout Iraq and force us out, triggered by the bombing of the
Samarra Mosque in February of 2006. Their hope was not actual prolonged confrontation; they banked on American public opinion recoiling at the prospect, followed by retreat. But now, we're taking them down.

recorded by Kate O’Beirne and Rich Lowry, the President said:
that six months ago "al Qaeda was declared the winner as the result of one intelligence report." But not now: "Today al Qaeda is the loser, the situation changed dramatically."

The prospect of primary location in Iraq has long been a desire of terror groups, including during the Hussein era. The strategic location at the heart of the Middle East is manifest.

Should we leave Iraq on the Democrats' timetable, al-Qaeda would likely gain a firm foothold, turning portions of the countryside into training camps, competing for control of the nation, and gaining strategic advantage in the region.

Congress would be enabling al-Qaeda, and giving them an imprimatur of approval for moving their base of operations there, which they have long sought.

Defeating al-Qaeda in Iraq is a key element of the current U.S. policy. The top al-Qaeda figure in Iraq, Abu Shahid,
was just captured in Mosul earlier this month. He was known to have long been the key intermediary contact with senior al-Qaida leadership outside of Iraq. The intelligence potential for disruption of al-Qaeda worldwide, is obvious.

Surrendering to them by arbitrarily leaving now, would not only give them an unearned strategic victory, but also a huge psychological boost that would undermine American foreign policy for years, perhaps decades to come.

Senator John McCain noted
a few days ago, that if the al-Qaeda insurgents can plausibly claim a defeat of "the United States in Iraq, they will believe that anything is possible, that history is on their side, that they really can bring their terrible rule to lands the world over."

Some legacy for our troops who fought there, or for the families of those who sacrificed life and limb. And some bequest for all who carry the scars of 9/11, when 3,000 of our civilians were summarily murdered. Victory on terrorist terms!

That is betrayal, not only of those who carried our burden in the fight, but also of those among whom we have attempted to foster a chance to embrace our democratic ideals.

Major General Rick Lynch
suggested to New York Times reporter John Burns that the successes we have had would be lost if we prematurely left.

He [Lynch] implied that an early withdrawal would amount to an abandonment of Iraqi civilians who he said had rallied in support of the American and Iraqi troops, and would leave the civilians exposed to renewed brutality by extremist groups. "When we go out there, the first question they ask is, 'Are you staying? ' " he said. "And the second question is, 'How can we help? ' " He added, "What we hear is, 'We've had enough of people attacking our villages, attacking our homes, and attacking our children. ' "

So, what has it come to? A political demand to betray our friends, our protectors, and our ideals.

A vote for a timetable is a vote for al-Qaeda victory. It's hard to imagine anything more distasteful.

Steve Robbins, a lawyer & veteran, resides in Lambertville.


Regardless of the current bleak status of his Presidential campaign, Senator John McCain does deserve credit for having spoken eloquently on the floor of the Senate regarding the effect of this Levin/Reed resolution, and why it should have been defeated.

He said, in part:

In Iraq, American soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen are still fighting bravely and tenaciously in battles that are as dangerous, difficult and consequential as the great battles of our armed forces’ storied past. Our enemies will still be intent on defeating us, and using our defeat to encourage their followers in the jihad they wage against us, a war which will become a greater threat to us should we quit the central battlefield in defeat. The Middle East will still be a tinderbox, which our defeat could ignite in a regional war that will imperil our vital interests at risk there and draw us into a longer and far more costly war. The prospect of genocide in Iraq, in which we will be morally complicit, is still as real a consequence of our withdrawal today as it was yesterday.

Key portions of McCain's speech were thoughtfully reprinted by Ed Morrissey on Captain's Quarters Blog. I just hope someone posts video of the whole thing. Here is a short clip from YouTube where he takes down one of the preposterous language limitations contained in the "resolution." Tee shirts, indeed!

As we noted there in the comments section, imagine what it must have felt like to Hillary Clinton, as she was scheduled to and did speak right after McCain. Talk about a tough act to follow!

Whatever she may have said, it deserves to have been promptly recycled into the double-speak dustbin of history . . . she who always wants it all.

Here's betting she didn't quote herself, when she said:

"I was one who supported giving President Bush the authority, if necessary, to use force against Saddam Hussein. I believe that that was the right vote."

"The consensus was the same, from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration. It was the same intelligence belief that our allies and friends around the world shared."

Levin/Reed, little more than a Frank Church remake, went right where it should have gone, into the same meaningless dustbin. Emmitt Tyrrell even calls it the Democrats' "death wish."