Monday, July 30, 2007

Iraq Surge Watch

Investors Business Daily talks about the extraordinary changes in Iraq going unreported in the media, and draws a parallel between 1943 and 2006. In both cases they say, it seems like the US learned what would not work in a war, and switched to a strategy that set the course for victory:

It's now quite clear how the results of the surge will be dealt with by domestic opponents of the Iraq War: They're going to be ignored.

They're being ignored now. Virtually no media source or Democratic politician is willing to admit that the situation on the ground has changed dramatically over the past three months. Coalition efforts have undergone a remarkable reversal of fortune, a near-textbook example as to how an effective strategy can overcome what appear to be overwhelming drawbacks.

Anbar is close to being secured, thanks to the long-ridiculed strategy of recruiting local sheiks. A capsule history of war coverage could be put together from stories on this topic alone — beginning with sneers, moving on to "evidence" that it would never work, to the puzzled pieces of the past few months admitting that something was happening, and finally the recent stories expressing concern that the central government might be "offended" by the attention being paid former Sunni rebels. (Try to find another story in the legacy media worrying about the feelings of the Iraqi government.)

Read too, this piece in the New York Times -- from two scholars at the Brookings Institution -- which isn't exactly a neo-con stronghold:

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.

As I noted here, the New York Times has been surprised recently to see improving numbers among the American people on Iraq. Perhaps people are starting to take note of the change.

Update: The Washington Times also reports on retired General John Keane's assertion to the House Armed Services Committee that they are unwilling to accept good news:

Gen. Keane, an adviser to Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, told the House Armed Services Committee that the troop surge President Bush ordered six months ago and which reached its full strength last month has turned the tide against al Qaeda and insurgents.

"We are on the offensive and have the momentum," Gen. Keane said, citing improved security throughout Baghdad, reduced sectarian violence, lower U.S. casualties this month and al Qaeda losing ground in Sunni areas.

"Not all is rosy in Iraq to be sure, and I am not suggesting as such," he said. "The Shi'ite militia are attacking U.S. forces, but they are fragmented."

If Operation Phantom Thunder is successful in tamping down violence throughout Iraq -- which seems a possibility -- then how much political progress is necessary to make continued US involvement worthwhile?

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