“A war we just might win”

posted at 9:42 am on July 30, 2007 by Bryan

This NYT article is significant both for what it says, and for who is saying it. Prior to the war, Kenneth Pollack was a Democrat who supported it, gave interviews to blogs like Talking Points Memo supporting it with some caveats, but like many Americans turned against the war as the problems and casualties mounted. Now, at least going by this article, he’s back on board. And importantly, he’s back on board because he has recently visited Iraq and seen tangible progress there.

VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Those significant changes include the Anbar awakening and the revitalization of what was once one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Baghdad.

In Baghdad’s Ghazaliya neighborhood, which has seen some of the worst sectarian combat, we walked a street slowly coming back to life with stores and shoppers. The Sunni residents were unhappy with the nearby police checkpoint, where Shiite officers reportedly abused them, but they seemed genuinely happy with the American soldiers and a mostly Kurdish Iraqi Army company patrolling the street. The local Sunni militia even had agreed to confine itself to its compound once the Americans and Iraqi units arrived.

Back in January, the NYT’s Marc Santora (we ran into him at FOB Justice that same month) reported on the initial US establishment of an outpost in Ghazaliya. Allah aptly described Santora’s article as harrowing at the time.

Over the course of three days spent with the 105 soldiers here — Company C of the Second Battalion, 12th Cavalry — four American vehicles were hit by roadside bombs near the outpost. No soldiers from Company C were wounded, but they know the fighting will intensify.

“I’m a juicy target they are just trying to figure out,” said Capt. Erik Peterson, 29, the commander at the outpost.

During the week, the soldiers also received their first glimpse of the green Iraqi forces who will share the mission and eventually, they hoped, take it over. The soldiers talked about them with a mixture of bemusement, disdain and mistrust.

“You could talk about partnership, but you would be lying,” said one soldier who asked that his name not be used, for fear of punishment by his superiors.

It was also a week to start getting to know the desperate residents of Ghazaliya, where almost every remaining family has lost someone to kidnappings and executions, and where government services have long been cut off.

In their new role, the Americans find themselves acting as jailers and doctors, construction workers and garbage men, guardians and detectives — all in an effort to restore lasting order despite the threats on every side.

That’s what you’d call Indian Country, more or less. By February, Ghazaliya was “quiet…too quiet.”

And now, according to Pollack and O’Hanlon, Ghazaliya is evidence that the surge is working.

The good news isn’t confined to Anbar and discrete Baghdad neighborhoods.

American advisers told us that many of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders who once infested the force have been removed. The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq).

In addition, far more Iraqi units are well integrated in terms of ethnicity and religion. The Iraqi Army’s highly effective Third Infantry Division started out as overwhelmingly Kurdish in 2005. Today, it is 45 percent Shiite, 28 percent Kurdish, and 27 percent Sunni Arab.

Read the whole thing. There is good news coming out of Iraq, but unfortunately the cacophony in Washington may drown it out.

Photo from Blackfive.


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Read the whole thing. There is good news coming out of Iraq, but unfortunately the cacophony in Washington may drown it out.

Even in people I normally would trust, our ADD culture and hyper-partisan political environment combine to make any rational understanding of this war impossible for me.

Some time ago I told myself I would understand it better if I didn’t read anything or watch any televised news, and trust my instinct that our military is very good, and our leadership is patient (I know). That has been very hard to do.

Constantly thinking “F**k the Democrats” has helped a lot, too.

Jaibones on July 30, 2007 at 9:52 AM

If I were a more cynical person, I might think that the Democrats’ rush to abort the mission in Iraq is an effort to prevent success there.

flipflop on July 30, 2007 at 9:52 AM

We won the war in three weeks. This other strife is the war on terror. It may last 50 – 100 years. And we can never shirk our duty to win that too.

TheSitRep on July 30, 2007 at 9:55 AM

Outstanding post. I was just wishing you’d bring down some of those great stories up there and comment on them.

Great read. Hope goes well with my morning coffee.

Professor Blather on July 30, 2007 at 10:04 AM

democrats and the Liberal media will find a way to make sure we don’t.

ericire12 on July 30, 2007 at 10:07 AM

democrats and the Liberal media will find a way to make sure we don’t.

ericire12 on July 30, 2007 at 10:07 AM

At some point in time, They will have to decide on Political self Destruction by bedding with our enemies or being Americans.

Egfrow on July 30, 2007 at 10:14 AM

Good news does need to be spread around, and we can’t rely on the MSM…..send it out kids.

shooter on July 30, 2007 at 10:16 AM

Constantly thinking “F**k the Democrats” has helped a lot, too.

Jaibones on July 30, 2007 at 9:52 AM
ouch!

captivated_dem on July 30, 2007 at 10:21 AM

There is good news coming out of Iraq, unfortunately the cacophony in Washington may drown it out.

Reid, Pelosi, and Murtha et al, of the Defeatocrats, had better hope it gets drowned out. Otherwise, they’ll be singing a new song–Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

Seriously, will they really say, “I was for it, but I was deceived, so then I was against, now I’m for it again, because, er, um, harumph, of the reasons I stated in a previous interview to be named later, next question please?”

smellthecoffee on July 30, 2007 at 10:23 AM

As good news from Iraq starts to roll in, the left will search deeper for stories that confirm their MindThoughts that Iraq is unwinnable and that US soldier are the bad guys. Now if only they can find an angst ridden emo kid with an axe to grind against his superiors to be their Baghdad Diarist.

BohicaTwentyTwo on July 30, 2007 at 10:25 AM

That NYT op-ed about the situation in Iraq is very positive which is of course shocking all by itself coming from them.

Unfortunately, too many members of Congress don’t want to hear good news and I think they’re just as self-destructive to this nation as those mentioned in the quote below are to the Iraqi people,

In the end, the situation in Iraq remains grave. In particular, we still face huge hurdles on the political front. Iraqi politicians of all stripes continue to dawdle and maneuver for position against one another when major steps towards reconciliation — or at least accommodation — are needed.

Sound familiar?

Yakko77 on July 30, 2007 at 10:25 AM

Yakko77 on July 30, 2007 at 10:25 AM

Sound familiar?

Yes, but on the other hand, how many years of haggling and arguing did it take to hammer out the US Constitution? I’ll take “What is eight years” for $1000.00 Alex…

doriangrey on July 30, 2007 at 10:33 AM

They could be selling figurines of the Statue of Liberty on every street corner in Baghdad and the public would never know it.

This war must be lost at all costs.

Limerick on July 30, 2007 at 10:33 AM

If I were a more cynical person, I might think that the Democrats’ rush to abort the mission in Iraq is an effort to prevent success there.

flipflop on July 30, 2007 at 9:52 AM

Well, I guess I am cynical, because I am convinced that is the case.

conservnut on July 30, 2007 at 10:37 AM

If I were a more cynical person, I might think that the Democrats’ rush to abort the mission in Iraq is an effort to prevent success there.

flipflop on July 30, 2007 at 9:52 AM

Well, I guess I am cynical, because I am convinced that is the case.

conservnut on July 30, 2007 at 10:37 AM

It’s an interesting point … because you just have to ask: wouldn’t an unequivocal American success in Iraq pretty much end the Democratic Party?

Wouldn’t it?

Professor Blather on July 30, 2007 at 10:39 AM

Professor Blather on July 30, 2007 at 10:39 AM

Wouldn’t it?

No, but should that unequivocal American success in Iraq arrive before the 2008 elections the Democrats can pretty much kiss their chances of re-taking the White House goodbye and dont even consider what it will do to the house or senate…(Reid’s suggestion that the war was going to give the Dems more seats in both the house and senate was predicated upon America losing and having to retreat from Iraq)…

doriangrey on July 30, 2007 at 10:44 AM

Iraq will be the graveyard of the democratic party. It has caused the democratic party to come out of the shadows and openly support communist and socialist players. They have shown their true colors on the troops, they have bet on the defeat of the American forces. They have openly engaged our enemies in freindship (Pelosi and Syria).

The Iraq war has caused the federal budget to be in the red and this has caused the Demorats to come out openly for tax increases and more spending. The early polls gave the democrats a false sense of easy victory in 2008 and they allowed themselves to show their true face too soon all due to the Iraq war. The American people will shun them in droves as more and more of this news is reported. The attack ads are writing themselves.

unseen on July 30, 2007 at 10:45 AM

Reid better come up with a way to explain how to un-lose the war. Ths sad part is they dould still stab this nation in the back on the verge of victory to assure our defeat by withdrawing funding like they did in Nam. The dimocrats and the Iraqi politicians are the scum who could still be responsible for countless deaths because of their personal thirsts for power.

volsense on July 30, 2007 at 10:52 AM

Yes, but on the other hand, how many years of haggling and arguing did it take to hammer out the US Constitution? I’ll take “What is eight years” for $1000.00 Alex…
doriangrey on July 30, 2007 at 10:33 AM

Plus, our enemy lined up in front of us and they all wore red coats. Just a few tiny differences.

shooter on July 30, 2007 at 10:53 AM

When we win, success will rest directly on the shoulders of a strong minded, tenacious president and our brave military. Hopefully, this war will not be lost by a weak willed, pandering, cowardly congress reminiscent of the one that existed during the Vietnam war.

One can only hope . . .

rplat on July 30, 2007 at 10:53 AM

Put Harry Reid on a suicide watch.

(But not too close.)

profitsbeard on July 30, 2007 at 10:59 AM

Looks like the sunshine patriots of the NY Times ran from the fight when the first storm clouds blew in and they believed it would last forever until the world flooded. Now, the fabulous US military is making things happen in Iraq and the sunshine patriots are back to cautiously support it again. Looks like Bin Laden’s dictum applies to the NY Times: People admire the strong horse.

Tantor on July 30, 2007 at 11:03 AM

profitsbeard on July 30, 2007 at 10:59 AM

Hell give him enough rope and he’ll do the job himself

unseen on July 30, 2007 at 11:03 AM

Gee guys and gals….wish I could say that Iraq will end the Democratic party but we are looking here like those three famous monkeys. Public opinion has been poisoned and it is going to take one hell of a cure to keep the Republicans in power. Short of some dreadful attack here (God forbid!), the public has torch in hand and marching to the castle. Looking for the bright spots is one thing, but pretending we have any kind of advantage in 08 is bunk.

The Dems, MSM, and acadamia are on the ‘death to capitalism’ wagon and aren’t getting off.

Limerick on July 30, 2007 at 11:03 AM

There are a lot of good things happening in Iraq. People can find out if they care to look. I don’t know how the upcoming election is going to turn out. I just hope that the reps in Washington will continue funding the war and most will support our troops.

2theright on July 30, 2007 at 11:04 AM

Tantor on July 30, 2007 at 11:03 AM

Not sure about that. The way the war was being fought was wrong. Everyone in America could see that. You do not win a war by worrying about casulities or holding up in bases. Our stratagy of fighting short sharp fights then leaving after victory and allowing the defeated to regroup and come back was not working. You win a war by imposing your will on the defeated after the victory. I think the democrats confused the wish of the American people for a change in stratagy for a wish to withdrawal.

unseen on July 30, 2007 at 11:09 AM

“At some point in time, They will have to decide on Political self Destruction by bedding with our enemies or being Americans”.
I’m not sure they know how to be true Americans. They hate this country so much that they don’t want to secure the border or go after radical Muslims like the Flying Imams. In the public schools they are indoctrinating our children into the Hate America movement that’s been around since the 60′s. There are many more examples, but I need to go to work.

Christine on July 30, 2007 at 11:12 AM

Limerick on July 30, 2007 at 11:03 AM

The torches are not set for the republican party. They are set for the incumbants both dems and rep. The Reps will not do well in the Senate because more Rep incumbant seats are up for grap then dems but the house and the WH are up for the taking.

unseen on July 30, 2007 at 11:13 AM

I fully agree with the ‘burnt Earth’ concept. Not to beat Gen. Powell’s drum (RINO), but in the first war he insisted in a free hand to fight the war (at the outset). We caved to the Mother Theresa’s of the world on this one and are now paying the price.

As for the election….I am a rah-rah-zip-boom-bah Republican but my take on oh-eight….1984 in reverse. We will be lucky to have a 1/3 of either house. Now the future might change that. A lot of outside factors could swing us back the other way….but right now….we’re toast.

Limerick on July 30, 2007 at 11:19 AM

unseen on July 30, 2007 at 10:45 AM

Are you forgetting that 35% of democrats are troofers? Our winning in Iraq isnt going to destroy the democratic party, they will just find a new evil conspiracy to rant and rave about.

doriangrey on July 30, 2007 at 11:21 AM

I was going to suggest an email bombardment on Harry Reid’s office with a link to the article. However, he doesn’t give out an email address. His web site has a form you have to fill out requiring name and address. If you are interested this is the URL.

http://reid.senate.gov/contact/email_form.cfm

Can anybody find another email address for Dinghy Harry that doesn’t require giving personal information?

Mallard T. Drake on July 30, 2007 at 11:21 AM

The Democrat Party won’t die until the dinosaur media dies.

Zach on July 30, 2007 at 11:22 AM

but right now….we’re toast.
Limerick on July 30, 2007 at 11:19 AM

The war is lost
Harry Reid

Noone should decide the outcome of the game before it is played. Yes the polls show that 08 is going to be bad but that is 15 months away. That’s a lifetime in war and politics. The election will be more about the economy than anything else IMO. The price of gasoline and the amount of illegals in country will decide more votes than the Iraq war IMO. The game is just getting started and noone knows the outcome until the final bell. 15 months from now we could be talking about a rebound in the housing market, the dow at 18,000, gas at $2.25/gal, unemployment at all time lows and wages up just as easily as gas at $4.00/gal, high unemployment, a depression in housing and a Dow at 10,000. I choose to think the former.

unseen on July 30, 2007 at 11:30 AM

doriangrey on July 30, 2007 at 11:21 AM

How many elections can you win with 35%?

unseen on July 30, 2007 at 11:31 AM

unseen on July 30, 2007 at 11:30 AM

You take me wrong (my ramblings sometimes do that). I am no defeatist. What I am is a fella who plans based on what is in his bank account and not the promise of future deposits.
Stumbles could go either direction. In that we agree. I just don’t underestimate the enemy. Right now they have the upper hand and nothing I see shows me that the Rep’s have their act together enough to change that.

Limerick on July 30, 2007 at 11:35 AM

Limerick on July 30, 2007 at 11:35 AM

I agree I just don’t think the democratic message will play with the majority of Americans. While they have the upper hand for now I think that upper hand is due more to the anti-incumbant feeling sweeping the country than due to their message. I think the democrats are confusing the two. Much like they are confusing the message about Iraq. It is very hard to understand the truth and the fact that the MSM is in the pocket of the Dems will not help the dems in the long run because they will be getting the wrong feedback.

unseen on July 30, 2007 at 11:40 AM

unseen on July 30, 2007 at 11:31 AM

35% are TROOFERS…Democrats have a slight edge over Republicans in numbers. What that translates to is a democrat advantage that just isnt going away regardless of how the Iraq war ends up.

doriangrey on July 30, 2007 at 11:41 AM

doriangrey on July 30, 2007 at 11:41 AM

How many of that slight majority are socialist/ communists that hate America and think the USA is the great Satan? The democratic leadership are part of that 35% thanks to Pelosi and Reid giving power to KOS and moveon.org. The secret to victory in 08 is to make the other 20% of democrats see that they are not part of that 35% of their party. Reagan did that. It can be done. Will it? I have no idea. I hope it is but I don’t know.

unseen on July 30, 2007 at 11:48 AM

The Dems, MSM, and acadamia are on the ‘death to capitalism’ wagon and aren’t getting off.

Limerick on July 30, 2007 at 11:03 AM

While they want a death to capitalism, they want the Death of Conservatism even more.

FireFly on July 30, 2007 at 12:06 PM

While they want a death to capitalism, they want the Death of Conservatism even more.

FireFly on July 30, 2007 at 12:06 PM

There can be no conservatism without capialism. You kill one you kill the other.

unseen on July 30, 2007 at 12:12 PM

Imagine how fast this would be over if the military was REALLY allowed to drop the gloves.

LtE126 on July 30, 2007 at 1:08 PM

Great article. Miracle where it was printed. Thanks for bringing it to us.

Commenters, make sure you disseminate the link widely. I did my part too.

Now that the Iraqi gov’t went on a long holiday, maybe ours will go for one too.

Entelechy on July 30, 2007 at 1:32 PM

The Democrats do NOT hate America, and that’s what makes them truly dangerous. They hate what America is NOW and want to remake it in their own (socially Marxist) image. If they truly hated this country, they could be easily marginalized as kook fringe and ignored. Instead, we hear only about the injustices that they hate i.e. anything free market and uncontrolled, all manner of “unfairness” etc.

The short attention span, sheep like hoi poloi hear this and hear how they want to make America “fair and just” and buy it. After all, who could be against a “fair” society? Just those mean-spirited Republicans, that’s who, not to mention all those conservatives, libertarians, and any one else who doesn’t vote D.

And since the root cause of all that is unfair is caused by capitalism and free enterprise and can be fixed by top-down government control, well then, it’s obvious what we have to do (socialized medicine, anyone?)!

I only WISH they hated America. It would make things SO much simpler

Militant Bibliophile on July 30, 2007 at 1:54 PM

And yeah, the whole sunshine patriot and summer soldier thing is annoying as hell, especially to someone who’s been over there. My favorite talk-show host is rapidly losing me as a listener because he is so OBVIOUSLY only for an endeavor when it’s going well (any guesses, Entelechy?)

Militant Bibliophile on July 30, 2007 at 1:56 PM

Militant Bibliophile, always enjoy your comments. Thank you. My sentiments exactly. Wars are no game, nor a play, with scenes and acts. Yes, many, many mistakes were made (same as in all wars), and I’m not excusing the crucial ones, or the things not done well (i.e. communication or lack thereof). However, the Monday commentary, when things are good and bad, makes me furious. Good thing we didn’t have the same media channels during WWII.

I only listen to KFI 640 AM, during trips to/from work. Mostly that w/b during the hours of Bill Handel and John and Ken. Though I like their independence, one thing of note is exactly what you said – rah, rah, rah all for the war, until things got sticky. Then rah, rah, rah all against it. Same as the senators and congresspeaople on the left and some righties. Unreliable rats all.

I don’t know who you have in mind, but would appreciate you sharing the host. With sincere thanks for your service and best regards,

Entelechy on July 30, 2007 at 2:16 PM

It’s an interesting point … because you just have to ask: wouldn’t an unequivocal American success in Iraq pretty much end the Democratic Party?
Wouldn’t it?
Professor Blather on July 30, 2007 at 10:39 AM

Well Professor, maybe not end the Democratic Party but certainly end their majority in both houses.
Unequivocal American success in Iraq would probably mean a Republican President and control of both houses.

Now bear with me:
We live in a land of compromise. A compromise between defeat and victory is just to keep on fighting. The latest Democrat initiatives in Congress were not intended to end the war, and certainly not intended to win the war. By reducing the troop levels back to the Rumsfeld days the war could be extended through the 2008 elections.

Now that would end the Republican Party.
But Harry and Nancy already know that.

TunaTalon on July 30, 2007 at 4:14 PM

You should have heard him on CNN this weekend.

…FOREMAN: So what’s the real situation on the ground? Arwa Damon is in our Baghdad bureau. CNN military analyst Brigadier David Grange, U.S. Army retired joins us from Chicago and here in Washington Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, just back from Iraq. Michael, let me start with you. The basic question, is the surge working?

MICHAEL O’HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: In military terms, yes. Two big reasons, one, we are doing very well against al Qaeda in Iraq. I don’t want to jump into this whole debate about whether they’re taking orders from Osama bin Laden or not, but they have an extreme ideology and they have gone so far that the Sunni-Arab tribes are now fighting against them. I walked through the streets of Ramadi a couple of days ago without body armor. That city is turned around, 95 percent reduction of violence because the Sunni sheikhs and tribes are with us now against al Qaeda. That’s going great. The sectarian violence much less well resolved so far, but at least we’ve put a bit of a cap or a lid on it with our greater troop strength. So that’s the more long-term problem.

But the fight against al Qaeda is going brilliantly at the moment.

tree hugging sister on July 30, 2007 at 4:24 PM

The Bush administration’s critics are not so much unaware of the significant progress being made as they are philosophically unwilling to publicly acknowledge progress. General David Petraeus will soon be reporting results that cannot be dismissed. Victory is very hard to hide.

I believe the NYT is climbing back on the bandwagon just in time for the 2008 election. They’re laying the groundwork for a dem President while lending credibility to the claim that ’she’ won the war.

Do bear in mind this is an Op-Ed piece. This does not represent a new outlook on the war at the NYT. The paper will follow this up with story after story in an attempt to repudiate this article. Doesn’t the NYT finally understand all the talk and demands of a pullout, if successful, would cause a massacre that could not be “Bush’s fault”.

doingwhatican on July 30, 2007 at 6:13 PM

Pollack was on with Wolfie today. (unfortuately I was visiting someone who thinks CNN calls it right down the middle, not watching by choice)I was very happy with what he was saying. Blitzen then asked “was this a military tour. In other words, did they take you to what and where they wanted you to see?”
He stood his ground strong though. So I guess we know how some are going to try an spin this already.

PowWow on July 30, 2007 at 7:59 PM