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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Bad News Is The Good News...

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The now undeniable success of The Surge (deserving of the capitalization, I'd say) is a growing problem for Democrats and their new standard bearer, Barack ('I'm still pulling out') Obama. Democratic luminaries like Harry Reid tried denying the early indications that The Surge was working (Reid: "Its a failure") in a willing suspension of disbelief that was reminiscent of a child closing his eyes and shaking his head, hoping that the bad thing would go away. It didn't.

Author Arthur Herman has a good recent piece here in which he spells out what is now happening in Iraq and why it makes the Dems look so very bad.

AMERICA has won, or is about to win, the Iraq war.

The latest proof came last month, as the Iraqi army - just a few months ago the target of scorn and abuse from Democratic politicians and journalists - forcefully reoccupied three cities that had served as key insurgency bases (Basra, Sadr City and Mosul).

Sunnis and Shias alike applauded as their nation's army compelled insurgent militias to lay down their arms. The country's leading opposition newspaper, Azzaman, led the applause for the move into Mosul - a sign that national reconciliation in Iraq is under way and probably irreversible.

US combat deaths in May also were down to 20, the lowest monthly total since February 2004. The toll for May 2007 was 121.

In a Washington Post interview, CIA Director Michael Hayden said we're witnessing the "near strategic defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq."

The Dems have made the "quagmire" of Iraq a linchpin in their continuing assaults on Republicans in general and GWB in particular and were certainly hoping to use it as a battering ram against John McCain in the upcoming election. Sadly for them, events are conspiring to prove that not only are they bad prognosticators but many of their underlying assumptions about the war were dead wrong, as well.

The rap the Dems tried to peddle so long has been that Bush had taken his eyes off the real prize - the war on terror - to pursue oil for his big business buddies, his mad obsession, while Al Qaeda gained strength in Afghanistan and elsewhere. But now it is becoming more obvious every day that Bush's "obsession" may have been where the action really was after all.
In wars, however, trends have their own momentum. And the trend is running away from al Qaeda and its jihadist allies - not only in Iraq but also across the Middle East.

According to Hayden, al Qaeda faces a similar strategic debacle in Saudi Arabia.

And al Qaeda's fugitive leadership is learning that its former safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border is no longer so safe. Thanks to cooperation with Pakistan's new government, unmanned US Predator drones recently killed two top al Qaeda leaders there.

Once Gen. David Petraeus is confirmed as commander of US forces in the Middle East in July, he'll be able to apply the same strategy for victory learned in the Iraq surge to the war in Afghanistan.

In short, the larger War on Terror may be reaching a tipping point similar to that of the Iraq war.

The US public and policymakers need to recognize how this happened - and draw lessons from this success.

1) We need to acknowledge that the Iraq war wasn't a "distraction" from the War on Terror, as critics still complain, but its centerpiece.

It's not mere coincidence that our success against al Qaeda globally comes along with success in Iraq. For all its setbacks and frustrations, the Iraq war drew jihadists into a battle they thought they could win, because it would be fought on their home turf - but which they're now losing disastrously.

The fact that Iraq is central to the war on terror shouldn't be a big surprise to Dems. Al Qaeda has been telling us just that for some time. The Democratic desire to damage Bush colored their judgement and that is becoming more and more obvious.
...America doggedly refused to give in to terror, despite 4,000 combat deaths and massive antiwar sentiment, and unwaveringly supported an Iraqi government that was at times feeble and confused - and proceeded to break the jihadist movement's back.

In that interview, the CIA's Hayden also that al Qaeda is no longer able to use the Iraq war as a way to draw in new recruits. The reason is clear: If you go to Iraq to fight the American infidel you will die, and die for nothing.

3) Finally, the Bush administration's success in Iraq, and growing success in the War on Terror, offers a powerful object lesson in how to deal with the continuing threat from Iran.

Iran remains the most lethal state sponsor of terrorism, fomenting proxy wars in Lebanon and Gaza, and in Iraq itself. Its nuclear-weapons program proceeds despite minor sanctions and endless international efforts at engagement.

Now the Bush administration has shown the way for the next president. Instead of trying to "understand" the enemy, disrupt and defeat his plans. Instead of listening to domestic critics, act in the nation's best interests. Instead of relying on multilateral support to decide what to do, go it alone if necessary.

Instead of worrying about an exit strategy, realize that there's no substitute for winning.

This is basically the same lesson that Ronald Reagan taught in confronting and beating the Soviet Union, and the Dems, who were wrong then show that they are beyond learning and are making the same mistake again. The Democrats seem uncertain how to handle this new reality. Obama hasn't bothered to go to Iraq since The Surge began and hasn't adjusted his policy - Get out ASAP - in light of the new facts on the ground; a disturbing lack of flexibility in a Presidential-wannabe.

The understanding that Iraq is in fact a success and a major one hasn't been completely digested by the American people yet. There are five months to go before the election. If the public gets the full picture by November 4 Iraq, which has been the Democrat's gift that keeps giving may actually turn out to be their Achilles' Heel. Now wouldn't that be ironic?

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