General Petraeus will be testifying before the defeatists in the House and Senate this week. As usual, we can expect Democrats to poo-poo the good news and focus only on the bad (of which there has been less and less).
Ralph Peters has some insight on recent events in Iraq that are worth sharing. Here are some excerpts:
THE IRAQIS STEP UPLong ago, President Bush defined victory in Iraq as a nation which could govern itself, defend itself and be an ally in the war on terror. It seems we have come a long way towards meeting those goals.
WHY PETRAEUS SEES GAINS
By Ralph Peters
New York Post
April 7, 2008
...But what about the recent fighting in Basra, portrayed as a disaster by the media? "The Iraqi Security Forces conducted a number of targeted operations, took over the ports [key prizes that had been funding the militias] and are in the process of reestablishing checkpoints and security positions in the city.
"The Iraqi operation did reflect a willingness to take tough decisions about tough problems. It also displayed the Iraqi capability to deploy two brigades' worth of conventional and special-operations forces on less than 48-hours' notice, with another brigade following. That would not have been possible a year ago."
My source acknowledged that "the planning for Basra was incomplete and some of the local forces were incapable of standing up to the Iranian-supported rogue-militia elements." The quality of Iraq's security forces remains uneven - but he sees them as remarkably improved, in general. Their performance in Basra was more impressive than feature-the-bad-news reporting implied.
This officer doesn't paint over the cracks in the Iraqi house, but he's convinced that the Basra operation did "reflect a determination of a Shia-led government to deal with Shia extremist challenges."
Unlike the Brits, who faked it, the Iraqis went into the city and fought. Was their performance perfect? Of course not. But this is where the punditry got really interesting.
Many of the critics had previously lavished praise on the counterinsurgency manual that Petraeus midwifed. One of the most-quoted maxims from that document was T.E. Lawrence's admonition that it's better for our local allies to do something imperfectly themselves than for us to do it perfectly for them.
Well, the Iraqis stepped up to the plate. A few units folded. Others fought ferociously. They did what we said we wanted - and the critics raised the bar again. (Unfair criteria for success now may pose a greater obstacle in Iraq and Afghanistan than do al Qaeda or the Taliban.)
And, by the way, it was Moqtada al Sadr, not the Iraqi government, who requested a cease-fire - after being urged by the Iranians to opt to let those militias live to fight another day.
Partisan critics refuse to accept that war is tough and results are never perfect. They want it all wrapped up neatly at the end of the two-hour movie so we can all walk out of the theater feeling good.
The general will also be needled about the recent mortar attacks on the Green Zone and on Iran's role in the Iraqi muddle. We'll have to wait and see how he responds tomorrow - but my contact had this to say, after I mentioned that the real target of those mortar rounds seemed to be media headlines:
"The attacks on the Green Zone were carried out by the Iranian-trained, Iranian-equipped, Iranian-funded and Iranian-directed Special Groups . . . They prompted many Iraqi leaders to take a hard new look at their neighbor to the east, especially in light of promises by President [Mahmoud] Ahmedinejad to stop the flow of lethal accelerants into Iraq."
Iraqi legislators, who also inhabit the Green Zone, were incensed that many of the "rockets and mortars fell short or wide and killed or wounded innocent civilians."
That last point is a good note on which to end as we await the congressional circus. Anyone who's served in the Army or Marines knows that, while mortars require skilled operators to deliver accurate fire, they're among the easiest weapons to use if all you want to do is make a noise and get attention.
In other words, those mortar attacks on the Green Zone were the equivalent of the questions Gen. Petraeus is going to face: Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
And for those who say that Iraq still hasn't made any political progress, perhaps they missed this story in the tsunami of media attention on the Hillary and Obama sideshow.