Thursday, March 20, 2008

Morning After: Objectives in Iraq Now Possible

The partisan divisions over the Iraq war continue today, the morning after the 5th anniversary of the launch of the U.S. mission.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama called for a U.S. troop withdrawal from the country. Meanwhile, implacable war opponents relentlessly insist on call the war a failure, even illegal.

But as I've said many times, American military success in bringing greater security to Iraq and is moving the U.S. and the Iraqis closer to achieving victory in the war. This morning's Wall Street Journal elaborates:

Five years after U.S. and coalition forces began rolling into Iraq on their way to Baghdad, it's easy to lament the war's mistakes.

The Bush Administration underestimated the war's cost -- in treasure, and most painfully in lives. The CIA and every other Western intelligence agency was wrong about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. failed to anticipate the insurgency and was almost fatally late in implementing a counterinsurgency. It allowed the U.N. to design a system of proportional electoral representation that has encouraged its sectarian political divisions. And so on.

These columns have often discussed these and other blunders. But we have always done so while supporting the larger war effort and with a goal of victory that would be worthy of the sacrifice. Five years on, and thanks to the troop "surge" and strategy change of the last year, many of the goals that motivated the original invasion are once again within reach if we see the effort through.
If we see the effort through?

That is the question, alright. The antiwar left has no intention of seeing our effort through, and both Clinton and Obama continue to stump on an antiwar platform.

If you read
WSJ's piece, the essay lays out the major milestones of the war, of which I've chronicled here in recent posts (see, for example, "The Lessons of Iraq").

But note further, just yesterday Iraqis themselves made a major effort toward greater sectarian reconciliation, as
the Los Angeles Times highlights:

Iraq's presidential council dropped its objections Wednesday to a law that helps clear the way for provincial elections that are considered key to reconciling the country's ethnic and religious factions.

The unexpected announcement by the council, made up of the country's president and two vice presidents, follows intense lobbying by U.S. officials to make the power-sharing compromises needed to solidify a recent drop in violence.

U.S. patience with Iraq's fractious politicians is wearing thin as the war enters its sixth year. But Wednesday's decision offers American officials here a sign of progress, which they can use to make the case in Washington for time over the summer to assess the impact of U.S. troop withdrawals underway before pulling out more forces. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker will make their recommendations to Congress next month.

The measure, which defines the relationship between the country's 18 provinces and the central government, calls for elections by Oct. 1. Iraq's parliament approved it Feb. 13 under a package deal that included a $48-billion national budget and an amnesty plan for some of the mostly Sunni Arab detainees languishing in custody.
But such forward movement is not the focus of the today's lefty internet chatter. It's all a failure, a disaster, a lie - name your noun (see here, here, and here, for example).

As the Washington Post indicates, in response to the Democratic Party's withdrawal agenda:

BOTH Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton propose withdrawing U.S. troops at the most rapid pace the Pentagon says is possible -- one brigade a month. In the 16 months or so it would take to remove those forces, they envision the near-miraculous accomplishment of every political goal the Bush administration has aimed at for five years, from the establishment of a stable government to agreement by Iraq's neighbors to support it. They suppose that the knowledge that American forces were leaving would inspire these accords. In fact, it more likely would cause all sides to discount U.S. influence and prepare to violently seize the space left by the departing Americans.

With equal implausibility, the Democratic candidates say they would leave limited U.S. forces behind to prevent al-Qaeda from establishing bases. They assume that an Iraqi government that had just been abandoned by the United States would consent to the continued presence of American forces on its territory. In all, Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama speak as if they have no understanding of Iraqi leaders, whom they propose to treat as willing puppets.
Indeed, the Democrats and their antiwar underlings don't have a clue. Everyone's tripping over each other as they beat a hasty retreat, damn the consequences. This is precisely as we're making significant political gains (which is what the Dems have demanded repeatedly) and when Iraqis themselves are seeing more security and hope for the future than any time in the last five years.

The Democratic candidates are hoping to keep Iraq in focus as a winning election issue, which is likely to be unsuccessful.

The party's antiwar base, on the other hand, just wants a U.S. defeat, a political and strategic repudiation of the reviled Bush regime and their GOP supporters. These folks, amid all of our progress, are clearly the biggest dead-enders on the domestic political scene.

See more analyis at Memeorandum.