Iraq, War On Terror

Something To Be Thankful For… Unless You’re A Defeatist Democrat…

Don Surber lays it on the line: we’re winning in Iraq, and the Democrats are stuck in the past:

The New York Times devoted a huge hunk of its Page One on Tuesday to the good news of the return to more normal times in Iraq. The story was illustrated with a photo of a wedding scene on the streets of Baghdad.

Violence has been cut in half. And while the nation is far from the tranquil democracy that many of us hoped for in April 2003, it also is a far cry from the chaotic mess it was just six months ago.

We are winning in Iraq.

Will someone please inform the Democrats?

He’s right: the signs are unmistakable. Al-Qaeda in Iraq has been routed. Without the support of Iraq’s Sunni population, they have no hiding place. There’s nowhere for them to run in Iraq, and they can’t pull the same trick they did before and retreat back into the periphery around the major cities. The “Awakening” movements are everywhere and the Iraqis are no longer willing to tolerate terrorist oppressors in their midst.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq can still cause problems, but in a real tactical sense, they’ve been defeated.

The Shi’ite death squads such as Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army are similarly skating on thin ice. Moqtada al-Sadr is a tool of Iran, funded and armed by Iranian Revolutionary Guards forces. Yet now al-Sadr’s organization is being rolled up—at least those whose radicalism doesn’t allow them to follow his “cease fire.” Those are the ones most likely to cause problems. Getting rid of them diminishes the ability for al-Sadr to cause problems in the future. Al-Sadr is a thug, but even he has realized that attacking the Iraqi government has gotten him nowhere. His cease fire order is a political calculation—it’s no longer expedient for him to play the part of the revolutionary leader. That alone should say something about the conditions in Iraq.

So why don’t the Democrats get it? Why are they still trying to play politics over the war? If even The New York Times can see that things are getting better, why can’t they find a change in strategy?

The simple answer is that’s all they have.

The Democratic Congress has failed to achieve any significant legislative achievements. The most they’ve gotten is a minor increase in the minimum wage that has little effect, and most of the effect it will have will be negative. They’re playing to their base as a defensive posture: they think that by “ending the war” people will ignore their inability to get anything done.

That kind of political posturing doesn’t mean anything. The Democrats have become so invested in a narrative of failure that they can’t even perceive of anything different. They’re absolutely fixated on this one issue.

The more the disparity grows between the reality of Iraq and the Democrat’s defeatist rhetoric, the more desperate and out-of-touch the Democrats look. Right now, all the juvenile political games the Democrats are playing in Congress only makes them look even less like leaders and more like squabbling children. Attaching more conditions to war funding is a maneuver designed for nothing more than partisan politics. It hurts our troops, and if the Democrats keep playing these games they’ll only hurt the local economies around military bases when the Defense Department has to start firing support staff to keep in operation. If that happens, the Democrats will be in real political trouble.

The Democrats have been painting themselves in a corner for years now. That strategy has worked when Iraq has been on a downslide, but now that things are getting better, they have nowhere to go. They’re pretending like the situation in Iraq is the same as it was in 2006 because that’s when their strategy was successful. Yet the circumstances have changed, and the Democrats have not.

The Democrats are invested in a narrative, and their narrative is increasingly disconnected from the facts. (Not that it ever was.) Sooner or later, the American people are going to start to question why the Democrats seem to be so invested in American defeat in Iraq, especially when the situation seems to be stabilized. If the Democrats were smart they’d start changing their narrative to say that they were the ones who pushed Bush into conceding that the strategy of 2003–2006 had failed. Indeed, that’s precisely what Sen. John McCain is already doing. Yet to do that would be to alienate the hardcore antiwar constituency that has a chokehold on the Democratic Party.

The situation is getting better in Iraq, but the narrative in Washington remains the same. As our troops and their Iraqi allies rack up more and more victories against terrorism in Iraq, the Democrats keep wanting to pull the rug out from under them. It’s one thing to advocate for surrender in a war that’s going badly—it’s entirely another to do the same in a war that’s being won. The fact that the Democrats can’t seem to understand that demonstrates just how much the narrative has overwhelmed their common sense.

UPDATE: Michael Yon offers a note of caution. He’s right: even an enemy that’s been largely defeated can still cause plenty of trouble. All that it takes is a lucky strike in a crowded market with a car bomb for the old narrative to re-emerge. The story of counterinsurgency and democratization is often a story of two steps forward and one and a half steps back. Iraq has taken a giant step forward in recent months, but that doesn’t mean that they’re out of the woods quite yet.

Iraq, War On Terror

The New Narrative

The Mudville Gazette takes a look at the next Iraq War narrative that will be repeated ad nauseam by the press:

The narrative on Iraq – the one you see in the media, that is – is changing. Claims that “we’ve lost” and that American soldiers have been beaten by opponents who are righteous heroes or nine-foot tall and bullet proof are being quite subtly shifted to arguments that no potential victory (if even grudgingly acknowledged) could be worth the price. This argument may prove irresistible to those who’ve invested heavily in defeat.

It’s all the same: no matter what, the advocates for defeat in Iraq will find something that’s horribly wrong and some excuse to declare the entire endeavor an abject failure. The reasoning changes, but the argument remains the same.

The divide between the reality of Iraq and the narrative on Iraq is no longer a mere divide—it’s a gaping chasm. While the media once again finds despair in Iraq for the United States and the free Iraqi people, the real despair comes from Osama bin Laden.

This month, bin Laden made an unprecedented call to try to unite his faltering jihad in Iraq. There appears to be a very open sense of desperation from the leadership of al-Qaeda as the Iraqi people turn against their radicalism. The reason why this war has been worth it is because four years in, we’ve managed to defeat al-Qaeda not only militarily, but also ideologically. The people of Iraq are turning their backs on al-Qaeda, and in some cases even openly fighting them off.

Al-Qaeda has invested nearly everything it has in fighting in Iraq. They keep losing. They lost al-Zarqawi to US bombs. They’ve lost thousands of trained fighters to American attacks. Most crucially for them, they’ve also lost the Iraqi people, and if that spreads across the Middle East, al-Qaeda is as good as dead. They’ll be yet another failed movement that sputtered out and died when their radical propaganda couldn’t match their meager results. The attacks of September 11 greatly enhanced the stature of al-Qaeda. 6 years later, what have they been able to do? They are on the run, battered by US attacks, and they’ve failed to defend Afghanistan and win over Iraq.

The new narrative is no more accurate than the old. Al-Qaeda is being defeated in Iraq, while the media keeps to their script and ignores it all. The American people may not be getting the real story from Iraq, but that doesn’t mean that what’s going on there isn’t any less important. The costs of this war have been terrible, but the costs of another attack by al-Qaeda or a more protracted “cold” war between the US and Islamic extremists would have been far greater.