Friday, February 22, 2008

Unwavering Commitment: Democrats Dug In on Iraq Retreat

There's no progress in Iraq that will satisfy the antiwar left.

Just this morning, Michael Kinsley, for example, argues the "
Surge Doesn't Equal Success." Meanwhile, last night's Democratic debate showcased Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama gasping for a breath in their race to see which candidate will surrender faster.

Charles Krauthammer offers his take on this, "
Democrats Dug In For Retreat":

"No one can spend some 10 days visiting the battlefields in Iraq without seeing major progress in every area. . . . If the U.S. provides sustained support to the Iraqi government -- in security, governance, and development -- there is now a very real chance that Iraq will emerge as a secure and stable state."

-- Anthony Cordesman,

"The Situation in Iraq: A Briefing From the Battlefield," Feb. 13, 2008
This from a man who was a severe critic of the postwar occupation of Iraq and who, as author Peter Wehner points out, is no wide-eyed optimist. In fact, in May 2006 Cordesman had written that "no one can argue that the prospects for stability in Iraq are good." Now, however, there is simply no denying the remarkable improvements in Iraq since the surge began a year ago.

Unless you're a Democrat. As Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) put it, "Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq." Their Senate leader, Harry Reid, declares the war already lost. Their presidential candidates (eight of them at the time) unanimously oppose the surge. Then the evidence begins trickling in.

We get news of the Anbar Awakening, which has now spread to other Sunni areas and Baghdad. The sectarian civil strife that the Democrats insisted was the reason for us to leave dwindles to the point of near disappearance. Much of Baghdad is returning to normal. There are 90,000 neighborhood volunteers -- ordinary citizens who act as auxiliary police and vital informants on terrorist activity -- starkly symbolizing the insurgency's loss of popular support. Captured letters of al-Qaeda leaders reveal despair as they are driven -- mostly by Iraqi Sunnis, their own Arab co-religionists -- to flight and into hiding.

After agonizing years of searching for the right strategy and the right general, we are winning. How do Democrats react? From Nancy Pelosi to Barack Obama, the talking point is the same: Sure, there is military progress. We could have predicted that. (They in fact had predicted the opposite, but no matter.) But it's all pointless unless you get national reconciliation.

"National" is a way to ignore what is taking place at the local and provincial level, such as Shiite cleric Ammar al-Hakim, scion of the family that dominates the largest Shiite party in Iraq, traveling last October to Anbar in an unprecedented gesture of reconciliation with the Sunni sheiks.

Doesn't count, you see. Democrats demand nothing less than federal-level reconciliation, and it has to be expressed in actual legislation....

Despite all the progress, military and political, the Democrats remain unwavering in their commitment to withdrawal on an artificial timetable that inherently jeopardizes our "very real chance that Iraq will emerge as a secure and stable state."

Why? Imagine the transformative effects in the region, and indeed in the entire Muslim world, of achieving a secure and stable Iraq, friendly to the United States and victorious over al-Qaeda. Are the Democrats so intent on denying George Bush retroactive vindication for a war they insist is his that they would deny their own country a now-achievable victory?
The answer is yes, obviously.

Throughout 2007, top Democrats - on the
campaign trail and in Congress - repeatedly denounced Iraq as a failure and declared the surge a diversion from the priority of an immediate surrender.

The Democratic denunciations and denials continued
last night in Texas. Hillary Clinton spun the surge as a be-all-end-all prod to instantaneous Iraqi political reconciliation:

The rationale of the surge was to create the space and time for the Iraqi government to make the decisions that only it can make....

But the fact is that the purpose of it has not been fulfilled. The Iraqi government has slowly inched toward making a few of the decisions in a less than complete way, but it hasn't taken advantage of the sacrifice and the losses of life and billions of dollars that have occurred since the surge began.
And here's Obama, with an even bigger attack on America's democratization project in Iraq:

I think it is indisputable that we've seen violence reduced in Iraq....

But this is a tactical victory imposed upon a huge strategic blunder.

Actually, experts note Iraq's turning out to be a huge strategic victory.

Not for the antiwar types.

As I've noted, it's becoming clearer by the day that Democratic Party claims of support for the troops are hollow: The leading contenders for the nomination can't beat it fast enough for the ignominous exit of strategic retreat.

So much for the costs and sacrifices Americans have paid for the overthrow of tyranny and the consolidation of democracy in a region filled with autocrats and monarchs.