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.