Casualties of Anti-War

Warfare is the Way of deception - Sun Tzu

The left's anti-war forces sustained heavy casualties earlier this week. And, judging from both strategy shifts and painful screams heard throughout the liberal blogosphere, many of the fallen were high value propaganda targets.

It's no secret that Democratic strategists see failure in Iraq as a blood-soaked red carpet leading them to the White House next year.  So much so that even before the president officially announced the initial 20,000 troop surge in January, opposition party leaders were scrambling to denounce it as a doomed and desperate last-gasp effort to save a failing policy.  

And yet, the Dem-controlled Senate did unanimously add a fourth star to surge proponent General David Petraeus's shoulder to confirm his selection as Iraq Multi-National-Force commander just two weeks later.  And while Senate Dems expressed great confidence in the man who had co-authored the Army's Field Manual 3-24 on Counterinsurgency a month prior, they somehow saw nothing duplicitous in their equally unanimous rejection of the surge plan it had inspired. 

The Battle to Purge the Surge

Consequently, in February, while Petraeus focused his forces on Baghdad -- particularly Sadr City, a stronghold of Shiite militias -- and began engaging al Qaeda in the Diyala province, Pelosi's House was passing a resolution to oppose his mission.

In March, U.S forces began clearing al Qaeda from Ramadi and moved into western Baghdad, capturing or killing al Qaeda operatives both in Abu Ghraib and in the capital's Mansour district.  That's when House Democrats voted to remove those same forces by August 2008.

April and May saw new surge units continuing to successfully clear extremists from increasing numbers of regions while Congressional Democrats continued their unsuccessful attempts to legislate the battlefield. 

Then, in June, just as the real surge (Operation Phantom Thunder - a coordinated and simultaneous offensive against insurgent strongholds throughout central Iraq) was launched, opposition leaders also jumped into action. Majority leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to the president, declaring the fledgling surge an unmitigated disaster:
"As many had foreseen, the escalation has failed to produce the intended results.  The increase in U.S. forces has had little impact in curbing the violence or fostering political reconciliation.  It has not enhanced America's national security.  The unsettling reality is that instances of violence against Iraqis remain high and attacks on U.S. forces have increased.  In fact, the last two months of the war were the deadliest to date for U.S. troops."
Apparently unperturbed by such brilliant military guidance and with July surge-forces now at 30,000, the progress achieved has been anything but a failure. For instance, over and above successful clearing operations in and around Baghdad, aligned U.S and Iraqi forces have driven the insurgents from Baquba, in Diyala province, and from the Euphrates valley in Anbar province.

Furthermore, sectarian killings have abated, primarily because the strategy, as Kimberly Kagan reported last month, had:
"dramatically decreased Shiite death squad activity in the capital. Furthermore, U.S. and Iraqi special forces have removed many rogue militia leaders and Iranian advisers from Sadr City and other locations, reducing the power of militias."
And July military casualties, both American and Iraqi, were way down, as was the number of Iraqi police killed. Arrests and insurgent deaths, on the other hand, were both up.

Yet Democrats continued to sing the "surge is a failure" opus and even attempted to amend a critical July defense appropriations bill with language calling for beginning a redeployment of U.S. troops in as little as four months.

And, while the complicit media ignored or downplayed virtually every one of these significant advances, they continued to blur reality to foment despair through the over-emphasis of sectarian violence, gory roadside bombing details, and continuing coalition casualties. Yet, three things remained clear:

  1. Next month, Petraeus and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker will be tendering a long-awaited progress report to the nation. 
  2. Any hope the Democrats have of flipping the necessary Republicans to their surrendering side while maintaining the votes of their own "Blue Dog Coalition," rides on calamitous conclusions.
  3. Removing American Forces from Iraq remains an unfulfilled promise to many taking credit for the current Congressional majorities.  Election Day is 15 months hence and counting.
Of course, thanks to the lopsided reporting, it appeared that the Democrats might receive an early Christmas present in September. 

Until, that is, this week.

Fox News Sunday Bloody Sunday

Arguably, Newt Gingrich squeezed off the first salvo of the week's mêlée when he appeared on Fox News Sunday.  Responding to Senator Russ Feingold's call to begin "redeployment" even before the Petraeus report card, the former Speaker and presidential hopeful described a Democratic left wing unconcerned with the facts and "deeply opposed" to our victory and "deeply committed" to and willing to legislate our defeat.

When Feingold's segment followed, host Chris Wallace asked whether his plan ignored signs that the surge was working.  Dismissing the very premise, he replied (with my emphasis throughout):
"I'm happy to acknowledge any signs of success, but the truth is since this surge began, we've had some of the highest numbers of American deaths and some of the greatest tragedies in Iraq of the entire period."
Notwithstanding the preceding double-talk, the Wisconsin Democrat surely spoke clearly but a day early when he concluded:
"So I'll give all the respect to General Petraeus' remarks that are due, but every indication I get -- and I'm on the Intelligence Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee, so I get a lot of information on this -- suggests that it is virtually impossible that he's going to be able to give the kind of rosy scenario that you've concocted here." [emphasis added]
But Monday Morning gave them a warning (of what was to be)

Monday's New York Times contained a surprising Op-ed by Michael E. O'Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack which reported that "we are finally getting somewhere in Iraq."  Under the shocking title A War We Just Might Win the two Brookings scholars, having freshly returned from Iraq, ravaged liberal talking points with words the likes of:

"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."
In stark contrast to the pessimism represented by Feingold, the two analysts - both ardent critics of the Bush administration's handling of Iraq -- did give a "rosy scenario," in which Marine and Army units focused on helping Iraqi civilians attain security and basic essential services.  They further reported "civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began" as its direct result.  And that the surge-deployed additional troops have empowered the Petraeus tactic of holding areas until fully secure to prevent insurgents from retaking them once Americans depart.

High marks were also given to the policies which "revive the local economy and build new political structures."   And, shattering the oft-spoken liberal lies about the dependability of Iraqi security forces, most of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders have apparently been dealt with:
"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)."
Senator Feingold likely wished he could rewind to the previous day when he read first of a local mayor whose greatest fear was a hasty American departure, and then, the Times' knockout punch conclusion:
"But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008."
Ellison Wonderland

Monday also saw the AP report a weekend trip to Iraq by 6 congressmen, including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn).  As the first and only Muslim in Congress, it's likely that his unique access to local sheiks was expected to uncover a deeper element of anti-American sentiment

Didn't happen - in fact, what local leaders in Ramadi told Ellison reinforced the report of O'Hanlon and Pollack  -- that they had partnered with U.S. and Iraqi military officials to virtually drive al-Qaeda from the city.  And, as violence has been reduced, so have the number of anti-American sermons, with religious leaders instead meeting regularly and cooperating with U.S military officials.

Ellison was reportedly quite impressed observing Maj. Gen. Walter Gaskin, U.S. commander of Anbar province, greeting people with "As-Salamu Alaykum," and by the smiles and waves the gesture elicited.

An outspoken Iraq and Bush critic, Ellison nevertheless declared Ramadi a success, adding that,
"there was a general level of respect and calm that I thought was good."
Brown Versus the Bored of Confrontation

When anti-war bastions loudly cheered the departure of Tony Blair from Downing Street, they expected it to further diminish British resolve in Iraq and advance its retreat.  So they held their collective Bush-bashing breath during the Sunday/Monday first meeting between the President and the new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, anticipating immediate relief.

They got none.

Emerging from the meeting, Brown shocked the crowd by declaring the west involved in a "generation-long battle" against radical Islamic terrorism.  And, while surrender-mongers stood with mouths agape, he blessed the American mission in Iraq as worthwhile, promising to stand by President Bush's efforts to promote democracy there and in all of the Middle East:
"We are at one in fighting the battle against terrorism, and that struggle is one that we will fight with determination and with resilience and right across the world"
But the final blow was dealt by Brown's response to war-opposing reporters' mynah-birdlike insistence that violence in Iraq has more to do with feuding factions than Al Qaeda:
"In Iraq, you're dealing with Sunni-Shia violence, you're dealing with the involvement of Iran, but you're certainly dealing with a large number of Al Qaeda terrorists. There is no doubt, therefore, that Al Qaeda is operating in Iraq."
Anti-Warfare is Also the Way of Deception

Given all this terrible good news, what's the "Bush Lied - People Died" party to do?  How do you add a date-certain withdrawal to defense spending legislation based solely on the "surge is a failure" lie when the latest facts on the ground simply refuse to cooperate, and September's benchmark report looms so near? 

If you're James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the first thing you do is to admit to The Washington Post that an encouraging assessment from Petraeus would "be a real big problem" for Democrats.  That's right, Manic Monday also found the House Majority Whip warning fellow Dems to "wait for the Petraeus report" before taking any further devious Iraq actions.  His fear is that good news would be bad news in maintaining Blue Dog anti-war sentiment and votes, putting a timetable out of reach.  And so, implies Clyburn, let's not rub salt into our own wounds.  

But the political bleeding continued on Tuesday, even as the physical flow ebbed.  The American death toll for July was reported at 73 -- the lowest in eight months.  Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, second only to Petraeus himself, explained that while the initial surge into militant strongholds had increased casualties, they were now "going down as Americans gained control of the areas." 

In other words - the now fully implemented surge is working to expectation and the misinformed contrarians were wrong.

No problem - Dems and the MSM will simply toggle between denying and ignoring that fact.  Just as they've denied the nature of Al Qaeda in Iraq and ignored its recent attempts to use chemical weapons against Iraqi civilians.  Ditto requests for their plan to prevent the untold civilian casualties of anti-war associated with cutting and running, which may now include a repeat of what happened to the Kurds of Halabja (video).

Sure enough -- with hopes of an unfavorable review quickly fading, a new stratagem has arisen, with anti-war disinformation brigades launching a surge of their own.  Suddenly no longer concerned with military matters, today we are being barraged with statements like those from ABC News ("In the critical, political arena, the picture is bleak") or from Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), who in April declared "that the troop surge plan in Iraq has failed," yet today quipped:
"We've made some progress in the surge, we've made some military progress. But I think [Petraeus will] be honest enough to say we've made no political progress."
As is often said of its counterpart, it's becoming abundantly clear that truth is the first casualty of anti-war.

Marc Sheppard is a technology consultant, software engineer, writer, and political and systems analyst. He is a regular contributor to American Thinker. He welcomes your feedback.