"A War We Just Might Win" by liberals O'Hanlon and Pollack in the New York Times caused a stir in news and blog circles yesterday. But it was just the tip of the iceberg.
In the past week a wave of reports from top commanders in Iraq along with media and political figures is confirming that the surge is working and that things in Iraq, for now at least, are headed in the right direction.
Multi-National Forces Commander Lt. General Ray Odierno's briefing last Thursday in Iraq chronicled the drop in violence, the lessening of sectarian conflict and the drop in U.S. troop deaths saying “We’ve started to see a slow but gradual reduction in casualties and it continues in July."
And Odierno's optimism is echoed in the following statement:
I think there’s no doubt that those extra 30,000 American troops are making a difference. They’re definitely making a difference in Baghdad. Some of the crucial indicators of the war, metrics as the American command calls them, have moved in a positive direction from the American, and dare I say the Iraqi point of view, fewer car bombs, fewer bombs in general, lower levels of civilian casualties, quite remarkably lower levels of civilian casualties. And add in what they call the Baghdad belts, that’s to say the approaches to Baghdad, particularly in Diyala Province to the northeast, to in the area south of Baghdad in Babil Province, and to the west of Baghdad in Anbar Province, there’s no doubt that al Qaeda has taken something of a beating.That wasn't the opinion of a Bush cheerleader but New York Times Baghdad bureau chief, John F. Burns speaking last Friday to Hugh Hewitt.
Burns goes on to cite confidence in General Petraeus and every expectation that his report in September will be credible. He also notes that talk in Congress of a withdrawal designed to spur Iraqi political reconciliation has had the "opposite effect" causing rival elements in Iraq to hunker down and prepare for what would be a real civil war once we left.
And talk of a premature U.S. withdrawal is finally being recognized openly by the "news" media as a terrible idea. Here are a few snippets from Kelly O'Donnell of NBC, TIME Magazine's Mike Duffy, David Ignatius of The Washington Post and CBS' Gloria Borger on Chris Matthews' Show Sunday:
O'DONNELL: People are beginning to learn that exiting is not easy. There are enormous costs."These struggles are different fronts of the same war?" Someone in the "news" media has finally realized that? Astounding!
MATTHEWS: (interrupting) Okay. Batter if we stay there two --
O'DONNELL: Mechanically you can't do it.
DUFFY: -- have a thousand Iraqis dying a month at the current rate. That could explode, maybe ten times as many if the US leaves.
BORGER: This is such a problem right now for the Democrats. Privately, many of them will say -- and Joe Biden has even said it publicly -- that you can't withdraw overnight.
BORGER: That it would be --
MATTHEWS: (interrupting) Okay. How was --
BORGER: -- dangerous for us to do.
MATTHEWS: We put it to the Matthews Meter, twelve of our regular panelists. Can Bush keep a hundred thousand troops or more in Iraq until he leaves office? It looks like he can. Eight of our group says, yes, he can.
What good does this Iraq war do to reduce the threat of terrorism here?"
IGNATIUS: These struggles are different fronts of the same war....
New York Times: Poll Until You Get the Answer You Want?
The news dynamic is also shifting public opinion. The New York Times has been polling the American people since the war began on the question of support for the U.S. invasion in 2003. They were so shocked that a modest uptick in support occurred in a recent poll that they sent the pollsters back to try again and see if they would get a different result. They didn't.
Will Democrats Hear Anything But Defeat?
Democrats went all out earlier this year insisting as Harry Reid said that the "war was lost" and that it didn't mater what General Petraeus said about it. That sentiment continues to motivate the defeat and surrender caucus on both sides of the U.S. Capitol.
Michael Goldfarb, writing in the Weekly Standard, describes how one member of Congress, Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-KS), " literally walked out of a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Friday because she couldn't stand listening to the good news being delivered to that committee by General Keane (Ret.). "
The following article illustrates the Democrat's dillemma:
Clyburn: Positive Report by Petraeus Could Split House Democrats on WarMany House Democrats must fear that failing to end the Iraq War will cause the anti-war left to desert them in 2008 making their hold on the House of Representatives even shakier than it already is. Opinion polls show Congressional approval ratings under Democrats even lower than at the height of the Mark Foley scandal under Republican control. Democrats may have overplayed their defeat and surrender hand and may be left with no more cards to play in 2008. Or will we witness the comedic farce of Democrats who voted for the war, then vehemently opposed it all of a sudden claiming they supported it all along?
By Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza
July 30, 2007
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Monday that a strongly positive report on progress on Iraq by Army Gen. David Petraeus likely would split Democrats in the House and impede his party's efforts to press for a timetable to end the war.
Clyburn, in an interview with the washingtonpost.com video program PostTalk, said Democrats might be wise to wait for the Petraeus report, scheduled to be delivered in September, before charting next steps in their year-long struggle with President Bush over the direction of U.S. strategy.
Clyburn noted that Petraeus carries significant weight among the 47 members of the Blue Dog caucus in the House, a group of moderate to conservative Democrats. Without their support, he said, Democratic leaders would find it virtually impossible to pass legislation setting a timetable for withdrawal.
"I think there would be enough support in that group to want to stay the course and if the Republicans were to stay united as they have been, then it would be a problem for us," Clyburn said. "We, by and large, would be wise to wait on the report."
With approximately six weeks to go until General Petraeus makes his report the defeat faction of the Democrat Party is gearing up for an all out assault on General Petraeus and a last ditch effort to snatch defeat from the jaws of progress and victory. But it is becoming increasingly clear that their extreme negative viewpoint is isolating them from their allies in both Congress and the "news" media.
A split in the Democrat Party would spell further good news; both for Iraq and for the American people.