Believe it or not, (I hardly can) this was actually published in a 30 July NYT OpEd piece:
A War We Just Might Win
By MICHAEL E. O’HANLON and KENNETH M. POLLACK
Published: July 30, 2007
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.
Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.
After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.
Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.
Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.
….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.
We traveled to the northern cities of Tal Afar and Mosul. This is an ethnically rich area, with large numbers of Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens. American troop levels in both cities now number only in the hundreds because the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. Reliable police officers man the checkpoints in the cities, while Iraqi Army troops cover the countryside. A local mayor told us his greatest fear was an overly rapid American departure from Iraq. All across the country, the dependability of Iraqi security forces over the long term remains a major question mark.
So, how do the Democrats react to such good news? Here’s a video taped response from Congressman John (‘the troops are murderers’) Murtha.
If you can stomach watching the interview, Murtha chastises the authors for basing their opinions on a just a week’s worth of fact-finding, saying the short stint does not compare with an average tour of duty.
“I don’t know where they were staying. I don’t know what they saw. But I know this: that it’s not getting better”. “I dismiss it at as rhetoric. I dismiss it as — you know, in my estimation, the things that I measure are not — oil production, electricity production, water. Only two hours of electricity. I don’t know where they were staying. I don’t know what they saw. But I know this, that it’s not getting better. It’s rhetorical is what is getting better. It’s over-optimist. It’s an illusion.”
Murtha visited Iraq only once –in 2005 in Anbar province– and claims to have ‘assessed the ground situation while there’ .
He came back to announce “Iraq cannot be won”.
I’d love to see a copy of the itinerary. I betcha he never got within a hundred klicks of any troops to see for himself or to bother asking for their input.
Funny thing is, there’s a direct consistency between O’Hanlon and Pollack’s report and what the troops and the situation clearly demonstrated. They actually took the time to observe operations and speak with military personnel.
Murtha’s cries of “it’s an illiusion”, and “I dismiss it as rhetoric”, coupled with a half-assed remark as to ‘how many hours of electricity’ the Iraqis have on any given day, confirms that he is as stupid as he sounds.
As expected, there’s a great wailing and gnashing of teeth from the radical Left and their mouthpieces on the web; DailyKos and Huffington Post, et al.
As for the MSM, NBC totally ignored it, but it received at least a bit of coverage from ABC and CBS:
ABC anchor Charles Gibson declared “the column was the talk of Washington today.” From Iraq, Terry McCarthy related that “the report tracks fairly closely with what we’re seeing both in our visits to U.S. bases in and around Baghdad involved with the surge, and also our trips out to Baghdad neighborhoods talking to Iraqi population. Clearly, security is improving as the U.S. military footprint expands so the violence goes down, the sectarian killings go down.”
Indeed, on CBS, David Martin noted how “with one day left in the month, American casualties in July are the lowest since the troop surge began in February. And civilian casualties are down a third.” Martin aired soundbites from Pollack and O’Hanlon as he described “just enough progress so that a critic like Michael O’Hanlon, who used to think the surge was too little too late, now believes it should be continued.”
The Democrats have pinned all their hopes and dreams of a presidential election on a U.S. defeat in the GWOT. They don’t want us to win anywhere. Not in Iraq, not in Afghanistan, not here. What a despicable way to show ‘support for the troops’. Progress and success against the Islamic threat equals defeat for Harry Reid and company. But don’t dare question their patriotism.