Saturday, December 20, 2008

Progs wrong about the surge in Iraq

by Peter Wehner

In early January 2007, 71 percent of Americans said the Iraq war was going moderately badly to very badly. Indeed, the war had been unpopular for much of the previous years, at times deeply so. But by this past September, a nationwide Pew survey found “a striking rise in public optimism about the situation in Iraq.” According to the poll, 58 percent of Americans now believe the war in Iraq is going well or very well, and the same percentage now also say that the U.S. will definitely or probably succeed in Iraq.

This news is encouraging—and not terribly surprising. After all, most Americans have assessed the situation in Iraq based on a reasonable interpretation of events on the ground. And since the January 2007 announcement of the “surge”—President Bush’s decision to deploy 30,000 additional troops to Iraq, armed with a fundamentally new counterinsurgency strategy—the situation on the ground has, by every conceivable measure, improved. In some cases, the progress has been stunning.

And yet, no matter what most American believe or what reality tells us is so, leading liberal observers and politicians, long in the vanguard of opposition to the war, have denounced the surge at every point. Even as some, in the face of overwhelming evidence, have been forced to concede a modicum of American progress, they have done so reluctantly and have downplayed the role played by administration policy in achieving that progress. Others have denied that significant progress has been made at all.

Why they have responded in this way is a question worth exploring. But first it may be useful to establish the record...

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At 12:05 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Even if the surge was a good idea solely in the context of the war, the monetary cost borne by the US to pay for the surge (not to mention the war overall) has helped to put our economy into a shambles. The terrorists blew up the WTC, we took the bait and invaded Iraq, our economy fell apart. Brilliant work.

Certainly we've done plenty to blow up the economy ourselves, but bailing out the economy would be a lot easier if we had that $1 Trillion spent on the war back. Ironically, it probably would have been cheaper - in dollars AND lives to have let Al Qaeda pull another stunt, of course invading Iraq did nothing to blunt Al Qaeda anyway.

The only way you'll probably start to understand this is if the government cuts your stipend because it can't borrow any more money. That's a lesson I hope you never have to learn.

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Actually, Iraq was a huge defeat for al Qaeda, which made that country an international focal point for jihad after the US invaded. The surge, the Sunni Awakening, and the stand-down by the Shiite militias---and everyone turned against al Qaeda. Funny but Iraqis didn't think bombing the markets or the police of their country was such a good idea. Yes, I'm such a slow learner, Murph, but fortunately I have you to set me straight.

At 6:50 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Mumbai. Madrid. Bali. London. Yep - Al Qaeda is on the run.

Hamas. Hezbollah. Thank God we invaded Iraq and put the terrorists on the run.

At 10:12 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Al Qaeda is losing in Iraq, Hezbollah's victory in Lebanon is dubious, and Hamas is on the defensive in Gaza. Keep attacking these assholes---the car bombers, the suicide bombers, the killers of schoolchildren---keep pushing against the real evil of the modern world.

Can anybody approve of Madrid and Bali? How does one react to that kind of barbarism? What we should do: resist and kill or arrest them before they can kill the rest of us.

At 11:24 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Quoting the Messiah - Al Qaeda wasn't in Iraq - they were in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If they are losing a war in a place they weren't at in the first place, it is only because the war itself allowed Al Qaeda to expand its operations by using the war to incite more to join their cause.

And you left Mumbai out of your equation. Almost 6 years into the war and either Al Qaeda or one of it's bastard stepchildren just killed over a hundred in Mumbai and have added a bit of destabilization between 2 nuclear armed countries.

Nicely done.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes Murph, I understand al Qaeda wasn't in Iraq before the US invaded. But they quickly made Iraq the main front in their international jihad, and they are in fact on the run in Iraq. What is your reference to Mumbai supposed to prove? What it tells me: the homicidal Islamic crackpots will keep coming at us. Are you saying that Mumbai wouldn't have happened if the US hadn't invaded Iraq? What do you propose that we do in the face of homicidal and suicidal attacks from these assholes? Negotiate with them? They want us dead. I say kill them before they can kill us.

At 9:52 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Name one incident in Iraq that resulted in as many deaths as Mumbai.

The Mumbai terrorists were based in Pakistan. If we weren't wasting our time and money in Iraq trying to clamp down on what is primarily sectarian violence, we could have prioritized those resources on real threats. As it stands they could be planning the next wave today - in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir - unfettered by our troops and intelligence that is surging through Iraq.

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Okay, but what exactly should the US do now? Recall too that many progs---including the Bay Guardian---even opposed invading Afghanistan, even though that's where the 9/11 attackers were trained and where Osama Bin Psycho was based. Obama wants to increase our effort in Afghanistan and work with the Pakistani government to crack down on terrorists based on its border. Is that wrong?

At 12:20 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"Obama wants to increase our effort in Afghanistan and work with the Pakistani government to crack down on terrorists based on its border. Is that wrong?"

My work is done, I've managed to get you to circle around for once. Instead of deploying more troops to Iraq, they should have been deployed to Afghanistan and we should have pushed on Pakistan.

Nothing comes for free - we can't afford the war in Iraq as it is. The argument I make is that it doesn't matter how much violence has been tamped down in Iraq, the return on investment is not as high as putting those troops elsewhere.

If your resources are finite, you need to spend them wisely. For example, if you have a finite sized road and you can either put in a car lane or a bike lane. A wise leader would say "we can only have one or the other, let's pick the best option". The scare tactic used by current leadership is to say "The democrats want to abandon Iraq and wave a white flag of surrender!" because the public is gullible.

At 12:44 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"My work is done, I've managed to get you to circle around for once."

What does that mean? The article you're responding to---not written by me, by the way---showed that US liberals, including prominent Democrats, were simply wrong about the surge. Do you think that's untrue? We should have just abandoned Iraq before the surge proved successful and sent the troops to Afghanistan? The long-range consequences of the war in Iraq won't be clear for a long time. I always think of Chou en Lai's famous---perhaps apocryphal---response when asked about the meaning of the French Revolution: "It's too soon to tell."

You still didn't answer my question. What do we do now? Is Obama wrong to try to win the war in Afghanistan?


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