Friday, April 13, 2007

Krauthammer on the Success of the Surge

Krauthammer today comments on the success of the surge, and wonders at the disconnect with reality being experienced by the Democrats:

By the day, the debate at home about Iraq becomes increasingly disconnected from the realities of the actual war on the ground. The Democrats in Congress are so consumed with negotiating among their factions the most clever linguistic device to legislatively ensure the failure of the administration's current military strategy -- while not appearing to do so -- that they speak almost not at all about the first visible results of that strategy.

And preliminary results are visible. The landscape is shifting in the two fronts of the current troop surge: Anbar province and Baghdad.

The news from Anbar is the most promising. Only last fall, the Marines' leading intelligence officer there concluded that the U.S. had essentially lost the fight to al-Qaeda. Yet, just this week, the marine commandant, Gen. James Conway, returned from a four-day visit to the province and reported that we "have turned the corner.''

Why? Because, as Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, the Australian counterinsurgency adviser to Gen. David Petraeus, has written, 14 of the 18 tribal leaders in Anbar have turned against al-Qaeda. As a result, thousands of Sunni recruits are turning up at police stations where none could be seen before. For the first time, former insurgent strongholds such as Ramadi have a Sunni police force fighting essentially on our side.

. . . The situation in Baghdad is more mixed. Thursday's bridge and Green Zone attacks show the insurgents' ability to bomb sensitive sites. On the other hand, pacification is proceeding.

"Nowhere is safe for Westerners to linger,'' reported ABC's Terry McCarthy on April 3, "but over the past week we visited five different neighborhoods where the locals told us life is slowly coming back to normal.'' He reported from Jadriyah, Karrada, Zayouna, Zawra Park and the notorious Haifa Street, previously known as "sniper alley.'' He found that "children have come out to play again. Shoppers are back in markets,'' and concluded that "nobody knows if this small safe zone will expand or get swallowed up again by violence. For the time being though, people here are happy to enjoy a life that looks almost normal.''

. . . Petraeus is trying now to complete the defeat of the Sunni insurgents in Baghdad -- without the barbarism of the Shiite militias, whom his forces are simultaneously pursuing and suppressing.

How at this point -- with only about half of the additional surge troops yet deployed -- can Democrats be trying to force the U.S. to give up? The Democrats say they are carrying out their electoral mandate from the November election. But winning a single-vote Senate majority as a result of razor-thin victories in Montana and Virginia is hardly a landslide.

Second, if the electorate was sending an unconflicted message about withdrawal, how did the most uncompromising supporter of the war, Sen. Joe Lieberman, win handily in one of the most liberal states in the country?
Read the article here. Krauthammer's questions are quite apropos. And, as a prior commenter noted, there is a historical analogy that we do not wish to repeat:
Will [the surge] work? That is not the crucial question. It [a successful counterinsurgency operation under similar circumstance] has been done before, and it can be done again; at least, it can be done on the ground. The crucial question is whether the political will exists to see it through to the end. Here, too, the French experience in Algeria is instructive--in a wholly negative way.

In under two years, as I have noted, the fight against the FLN insurgents in Algeria was all but won. But the war itself was lost. By late 1959, even as the army was scoring victory after victory, President Charles de Gaulle had concluded that he had no choice but to offer Algeria "self-determination." Within two years, the French had pulled out and the FLN's leader, Ben Bela, was Algeria's president.

What happened was this: while the French military had been concentrating on fighting the insurgency in the streets and mountains in Algeria, an intellectual and cultural insurgency at home, led by the French left and the media, had been scoring its own succession of victories.


Dinah Lord said...

I heart Krauthammer.

scott said...

lolll . . . That incisive conservative cerebrum stoking your fires, is it? Alas, poor Dinah, I do believe that he is married. As for myself, I contacted him some time ago about the possibility of adoption, but he has yet to respond.


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