Surge skeptic Cordesman: “Major progress in every area” in Iraq

posted at 1:34 pm on February 15, 2008 by Allahpundit

Not your average surge skeptic, either. He’s the trump card that was played by the nutroots last year after Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack came back from Iraq touting progress and Cordesman, who was along on the same trip, said he didn’t see jack. He sees it now:

No one can spend some 10 days visiting the battlefields in Iraq without seeing major progress in every area. A combination of the surge, improved win and hold tactics, the tribal uprising in Anbar and other provinces, the Sadr ceasefire, and major advances in the use of IS&R have transformed the battle against Al Qaida in Iraq. If the US provides sustained support to the Iraqi government — in security, governance, and development — there is now a very real chance that Iraq will emerge as a secure and stable state…

[I]t is clear that Iraq can only succeed with years of additional US support in security, governance, and development. The progress in 2008 and 2009 cannot be decisive or irreversible. It will take strong US involvement throughout the life of the next Administration to succeed, and it may well take US aid through 2016. There is a strong case for limiting troop reductions beyond a force of 15 brigade equivalents to patient conditions-based steps that ensure there will be no need to rush back US forces or see Iraqi forces become vulnerable. There is an even stronger case for sustained aid in governance and development until the Iraqi central government learns how to spend effectively and do so with limits to waste, corruption, and ethno-sectarian bias.

Petraeus gave him 50 pages of statistics to support the conclusions; the graph of Anbar violence on page 36 is especially eye-popping. To appreciate his point about a sustained occupation force — at least through 2012, which is the earliest he thinks the Iraqi army will be ready — versus a withdraw-and-target-from-afar strategy, read Totten’s analysis of the Petraeus strategy in Iraq versus the failed Israeli strategy in fighting Hezbollah. Senator Hopeandchange prefers one to the other. Guess which.

And in the same vein, here’s Maverick on Larry King wondering why the left is so chill about occupying Japan for 63 years.


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Let the hammer fall

LimeyGeek on February 15, 2008 at 1:40 PM

…there is now a very real chance that Iraq will emerge as a secure and stable state…

Dude.

flipflop on February 15, 2008 at 1:41 PM

Awesome news.

Anton on February 15, 2008 at 1:44 PM

“It may well be possible to help Iraq deal with all of these challenges and the others in the attached briefing, but this will require a US commitment at least through the term of the next President, far better long term planning of our aid efforts and funding, great care in further force reductions beyond 15 brigades, and much more careful attention to dealing with the above challenges rather than simply providing unfocused aid. It also will take significant aid funding in spite of Iraq’s apparent “oil wealth.”

–Cordesman.

My oh my.

Of course, if a Dem takes the WH, this gives them cover to stay in Iraq.

RushBaby on February 15, 2008 at 1:44 PM

Obama is going to have a tough time justifying his proud position as the level of contrary opinion by knowledgable people grows. likewise, Pelosi and Reid. I still maintain, if he does win the general, Congress isn’t going to follow him off the cliff, now that real progress is being documented.

a capella on February 15, 2008 at 1:45 PM

Congress isn’t going to follow him off the cliff

Can you recall a president?

LimeyGeek on February 15, 2008 at 1:47 PM

Cordesman finally tells the truth I wonder how long before the nutroots start to slam him.

limowilliam on February 15, 2008 at 1:49 PM

Can’t disagree with anything McCain said there.

Hoodlumman on February 15, 2008 at 1:50 PM

Thank you Mav for supporting the troops, the surge, and the future state of Iraq. You stuck your neck out when everyone else was in retreat mode(including romeny). You are what Presidents are made of: GUTS AND CONVICTION

THE CHOSEN ONE on February 15, 2008 at 1:51 PM

a capella on February 15, 2008 at 1:45 PM

What? Just the other day you were saying Mav had no shot. Have you changed your mind or were just lying at the time?

THE CHOSEN ONE on February 15, 2008 at 1:52 PM

Some don’t like Cordesman, and at least one person I respect has intimated that he’s bought and paid for by anti-war interests, but his analysis I’ve read since the surge started I’ve agreed with almost 100%. I’ve found his conclusions even more credible and nuanced than O’Hanlon and Pollack, and I respect them both quite a bit.

Cordesman’s latest (linked above) is dead on.

BillINDC on February 15, 2008 at 1:53 PM

Can’t disagree with anything McCain said there.

Hoodlumman on February 15, 2008 at 1:50 PM

Ditto

RushBaby on February 15, 2008 at 1:54 PM

Cordesman finally tells the truth I wonder how long before the nutroots start to slam him.

limowilliam on February 15, 2008 at 1:49 PM

Yeah, I hope he avoids walking anywhere near a bus because he is going to get thrown under one by the left…ala Liebeman.

But, that is FANTASTIC news!!

ihasurnominashun on February 15, 2008 at 1:55 PM

McCain is an imperialist warlord only interested in empire building! /paultard

jp on February 15, 2008 at 1:58 PM

There is a strong case for limiting troop reductions beyond a force of 15 brigade equivalents to patient conditions-based steps that ensure there will be no need to rush back US forces or see Iraqi forces become vulnerable.

Do I detect a scent of benchmarks here???

NTWR on February 15, 2008 at 1:59 PM

People say…well why didn’t you surge earlier. I think part of it was the Iraqis…they never trusted that we would stay and they kind of fell victim to there circumstances…finally, after the shear weight of violence…they are relenting and holding onto CHANGE. Until recently, the Iraqis weren’t ready for a surge.

tomas on February 15, 2008 at 2:00 PM

Senator Hopeandchange Changeandhope

Fixed it. After all, that’s what is, change and hope.

TheBigOldDog on February 15, 2008 at 2:01 PM

Hoorah!

Saltysam on February 15, 2008 at 2:01 PM

“Cordesman has been bought out by the evil NeoCons!”

/moonbat

Should the Democrats get the White House, expect a withdrawal from Iraq regardless of what the analysis is. The Democrats entire political stock has been dependent on how the war is going and they insist we have lost and it is a failure, Pelosi has acknowledged as much in the past couple of weeks, if not days.

This really baffles me about the Democrats. They know they are weak on foreign policy and yet they continue to let that be rather than do something about it. 2006 in Iraq was hell for American troops, and we were not getting anywhere. 2006 also marks the Democrats rise in Congress. 2007 we show progress and a stable Iraq can be seen. Democrats should have pounced on this, telling American they know how to win this war. And in a few of years, with a Democrat in the Oval Office, we’d have stability in Iraq and a winning war on our hands, and for another generation or two, we’d have a hard time arguing that Democrats are weak on foreign policy.

But rather, they’d all just jump off the cliff rather than put in the hard work it takes to be victorious, even though we’re gifting them with the foundation for victory. Absolutely unbelievable.

conservativejack on February 15, 2008 at 2:03 PM

how long have we had bases in the United kingdom?

jp on February 15, 2008 at 2:04 PM

And the big irony?

The Democrats led us into all 4 major conflicts of the 20th century, but don’t tell the “educated” pacifists that, they’ll beat you over the head!

Saltysam on February 15, 2008 at 2:05 PM

Senator Hopeandchange Changeandhope

Senator Changeandhope? Too long:Senator Chope.

Barak Obama: a chope dealer.

liberrocky on February 15, 2008 at 2:07 PM

Apologies, revision to above:

has intimated that he’s bought and paid for by anti-war interests

It was Saudi interests, not anti-war interests.

BillINDC on February 15, 2008 at 2:07 PM

Barak Obama: a chope dealer.

liberrocky on February 15, 2008 at 2:07 PM

That’s a good one!

RushBaby on February 15, 2008 at 2:16 PM

That’s a good one!

RushBaby on February 15, 2008 at 2:16 PM

Maybe I can get a dimebag of chope.

liberrocky on February 15, 2008 at 2:20 PM

Unless you’re an Armed service person or dependent that spent time overseas, then the average person knows nothing of what its really like out there. Just what they see on the nightly news which is invested in defeat like the democrats.

Kini on February 15, 2008 at 2:22 PM

Looking ahead ……….

Democratic National Convention
Note to Attendees:

Lunch will be served in Ballroom A
from 12-2 this afternoon

Today’s Special: Crow

fogw on February 15, 2008 at 2:24 PM

But I thought Nancy Pelosi said the surge had failed?

WisCon on February 15, 2008 at 2:26 PM

To be fair, the Dems still intend to provide security to Iraq. They just want to do it from Okinawa — per the plan proposed by Congressman Dopeychange.

Spolitics on February 15, 2008 at 2:28 PM

Take that Nancy and Harry. Now get back to DC and bring FISA to the floor!

Les in NC on February 15, 2008 at 2:33 PM

Have a look at what happens each year during Ramadan, as graphed on page 16 of the document. Does everyone recall the lie we were told about how important it is to muslims to set war aside during Ramadan?

Kralizec on February 15, 2008 at 2:38 PM

Unless you’re an Armed service person or dependent that spent time overseas, then the average person knows nothing of what its really like out there. Just what they see on the nightly news which is invested in defeat like the democrats.

Kini on February 15, 2008 at 2:22 PM

Not sure I agree with that. I’m not an armed service person and have no dependent that serves, other than my sister’s daughter. Two of my closest friends have lost sons over there and I’m aware of what it has done to them. I think there may be a bit of an elitist attitude when categorizing that broadly. This thing has gone on long enough that many nonmilitary people have seen the sacrifice.

a capella on February 15, 2008 at 2:52 PM

I DEMAND CHOCOLATE BUNNY VIDEO!

BohicaTwentyTwo on February 15, 2008 at 2:53 PM

tomas on February 15, 2008 at 2:00 PM

I agree. They were waiting for the strong horse to emerge so they could bet. They didn’t want to throw their lot in with the U.S. if we were going to get out and leave them to the tender mercies of the terrorists. They looked at the surge as a committment we weren’t going to cut and run. This also illustrates how much the defeatist attitude in Congress really cost us in terms of gaining the confidence of the average Iraqi and shortening the war. Reid has our guys’ blood on his hands.

a capella on February 15, 2008 at 2:58 PM

Harry Reid……………..you have some explaining to do.

TroubledMonkey on February 15, 2008 at 3:04 PM

I’ve skimmed the entire report, looking mostly at the charts, graphs, and maps. Of course I’m pleased that the Americans’ government and military have shown they can achieve objectives they themselves have chosen. I’m just not sure that trying to tidy up muslim regions and make them work well is choiceworthy. It seems the way for the Americans to remain free from Islam is to destroy it, and that the straightforward way to destroy Islam is to destroy all the powers of the Dar al-Islam and take their goods.

Kralizec on February 15, 2008 at 3:04 PM

Kini…I’m in Iraq and you are right about people back home not knowing what’s going on around here. Unfortuantely, I’m not in an American-controlled base and we still get Katyusha rocket attacks almost daily here in Basrah. They lobbed 24 of them at us last week at 7 AM. The Americans cleaned up in Baghdad by crushing the insurgents and ran them flat out of town. This part of the country is not controlled by the Americans and the insurgents are walking all over us. Google: Basrah rocket attacks.
Most of the incoming rockets are being fired from populated areas that our camp cannot fire back at so there is no deterrent for the little creeps.
It’s really hard to win a war when only 1 side has to play by the rules and the controlling political party is doing everything it can to make our job harder only to gain political points for the Berkeley/Boulder types in the world.

JetBlast on February 15, 2008 at 3:08 PM

McCain is good on this issue and voters will have more confidence in him than Obama. Unfortunately, Iraq isn’t enough and McCain needs another issue where voters look at him and say “yeah, I’m more confident in McCain than Obama”. McCain better hope that the economy is one of those issues or he, and the country, has problems.

dedalus on February 15, 2008 at 3:19 PM

And all it takes is an Obama win in November to flush it all straight down the toilet. Whether or not you like McCain’s domestic politics, keep that in mind when it’s your turn at the voting booth.

Blacklake on February 15, 2008 at 3:30 PM

Senator Hopeandchange prefers one to the other. Guess which.

BaRon OBurgandy wants to immediately withdraw, then blame the ensuing slaughter on the “Bush policy.”

The MSM will lap it up like the spineless dogs they are.

BKennedy on February 15, 2008 at 3:37 PM

Pelosi: (fingers in her ears) LALALALALALALALALALALALALALA!

ThePrez on February 15, 2008 at 3:58 PM

McCain is good on this issue and voters will have more confidence in him than Obama. Unfortunately, Iraq isn’t enough and McCain needs another issue where voters look at him and say “yeah, I’m more confident in McCain than Obama”. McCain better hope that the economy is one of those issues or he, and the country, has problems.

dedalus on February 15, 2008 at 3:19 PM

Well, if he brings the Huckster in as his VP, his advantage on that issue will become moot.

a capella on February 15, 2008 at 4:01 PM

This war is lost! Is no one listening…? – H. Reid

CliffHanger on February 15, 2008 at 4:04 PM

Well, if he brings the Huckster in as his VP, his advantage on that issue will become moot.

a capella on February 15, 2008 at 4:01 PM

Actually, maybe not. I’m not a Huck fan but this election will have the Wall Streeters against the Main Streeters, with the Main Streeters prevailing. Huck might appeal to middle class voters who haven’t been helped as much by capital gains tax cuts.

Right now the GOP seems to come across “old & cold”, McCain needs to do something with his VP pick to counter the warm & friendly illusion of Obama’s campaign. Alone, McCain seems like a grouchy old uncle who reminds voters of the war.

dedalus on February 15, 2008 at 4:19 PM

dedalus on February 15, 2008 at 4:19 PM

Point taken. a lot of it depends on how the issues are prioritized in the general. If economics are number one, Huck’s populist message may resonate with blue collar voters who don’t really know him. If the WOT predominates, he’ll drag the ticket down, although his ignorance re foreign policy matters can’t be any worse than that of Obama. Obama will seek to emphasize domestic issues because votes are easier to buy with entitlement.

a capella on February 15, 2008 at 5:09 PM

Is there any reason we’re still in So. Korea? With their population and wealth far exceeding the North’s?

Tzetzes on February 15, 2008 at 5:29 PM

JetBlast on February 15, 2008 at 3:08 PM

PC fought wars are usually unwinnable wars, as history has taught (some of) us.

It’s troubing to hear that Basrah is slipping back into the hands of the insurgents. When the British PM decided to pull his troops out of Basrah I had a gut feeling the time wasn’t right. (Note to Dems, pulling out too soon is an open invitation for the insurgents to reclaim their territory – yeh JetBlast, I know they don’t give a shlt).

From your unique perspective it appears the Brits may have served the cause better by conducting their own surge in Basrah, rather than pulling out. I’d like to hear Tony Blair’s take on that. Things do tend to drag out forever when you take two steps backward for every step forward.

Politicians don’t win wars, soldiers do. I say let them be warriors and do the job they were trained to do.

And if you’re in the military my friend, thanks for your service.

fogw on February 15, 2008 at 6:45 PM

All the people who said that the Iraq occupation was doomed operated under the understandable assumption that we, as a nation, had no stomach for the fight, and we would withdraw early. This may still happen. We could have failure in Iraq tomorrow if we withdraw today.

What was completely unexpected, particularly after eight years of loveme-loveme-loveme from Clinton, was that President Bush would be willing to pay the price in political capital and popularity to maintain this occupation over the long haul. But he has. For that, if nothing else, we owe President Bush a huge debt of gratitude.

Now we are faced with a choice. It is not too late to fail. If we elect Obama or Hillary!, it will all be for naught. However, McCain gets it. If we elect John McCain, the job will get done and we will succeed.

Vote accordingly.

gridlock2 on February 15, 2008 at 7:03 PM

Is there any reason we’re still in So. Korea? With their population and wealth far exceeding the North’s?

Tzetzes on February 15, 2008 at 5:29 PM

The North has a much bigger army. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen the wargame projections, but I believe they showed the North taking Seoul within days without help from the US. It’s also one area where landmines are still critical for defense.

DreadWolf on February 15, 2008 at 7:22 PM

gridlock2 on February 15, 2008 at 7:03 PM

Well said.

DreadWolf on February 15, 2008 at 7:25 PM

American soldiers come home with honor. Not in defeat, in honor.

Honor is something that Stretch, Dinghy Harry, and the rest of the libtards can’t comprehend. Power, oh yeah they know that one, but Honor and Victory isn’t in their vocabulary or their character.

Mallard T. Drake on February 15, 2008 at 8:55 PM

Tzetzes on February 15, 2008 at 5:29 PM

Is there any reason we’re still in So. Korea?

The little-publicized fact is that the Korean war never officially ended. A ceasefire was called and that is how it has remained for fifty years. Personally, I’d like to have a president with the stones to call off the ceasefire and march to Pyongyang. Sure, the norks have a big army, but they’re emaciated because there’s nothing to eat there but tree bark. You want to talk about COIN strategy? I doubt you’d have an insurgency, but you could end it with “some rice and a little rat meat.” (Apocalypse Now reference, sorry). I don’t think we’d have much to worry about from the Chinese either. The norks have become Dennis to their Mr. Wilson and I think they’d cry and bray a lot but secretly would be happy to see us knock off the Dear Leader. So, back over the nork army with a humvee, hang Krazy Kim in the public square, issue fake apology to appease fake Chinese indignation, and it’s all over.

Kafir on February 16, 2008 at 10:29 AM