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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