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« A Welcome New Resident | Main | "Beyond Wildest Dreams" »

More Inconvenient Truth

For Harry Reid. From Iraq:

We are winning over here in Al Anbar province. I don't know about Baghdad, but Ramadi was considered THE hotspot in Al Anbar, the worse province, and it has been very quiet. The city is calm, the kids are playing in the streets, the local shops are open, the power is on at night, and daily commerce is the norm rather than the exception. There have been no complex attacks since March. That is HUGE progress. This quiet time is allowing the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police to establish themselves in the eyes of the people. The Iraqi people also want IA's and IP's in their areas. The Sunni Sheiks are behind us and giving us full support. This means that almost all Sunnis in Al Anbar are now committed to supporting the US and Iraqi forces. It also means that almost all insurgents left out here are AQ. FYI, the surge is just beginning. Gen Petraeus' strategy is just getting started and we're seeing huge gains here.

However, you don't see Harry Reid talking about this. When I saw what he said, it really pissed me off. That guy does not know what is going on over here because he hasn't bothered to come and find out. The truth on the ground in Al Anbar is not politically convenient for him, so he completely ignored it.

Yes, that's the same reason that he doesn't want to hear from Petraeus, or have open testimony in front of the cameras.

The truth? Harry Reid can't handle the truth.

[Update a couple minutes later]

That noted neocon reporter from the NYT, John Burns, says that the Democrats are executing Al Qaeda's strategy perfectly:

Well, the number of troops, that's finite. The amount of time they can stay, we think that's probably finite, too. And the calculations of the insurgents, who, as one military officer said to me, will always trade territory for time. That's to say, they will move out, they will wait. Because they know the political dynamic in the United States is moving in a direction that is probably going to be favorable to them.

Look, I don't think that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi objectively want Al Qaeda to win. I'm sure that they have succeeded in deluding themselves that we are the problem in Iraq. I'm also sure that they believe that this is in the near term a political winner for them, and sadly, they may be right. But they're playing a dangerous game. What if they're wrong, and the people actually reporting success in Iraq are right? They're so heavily invested in defeat now that it could actually be an electoral disaster for them next year. I certainly hope that will be the case. For me, it would be win-win--we'd have won in Iraq, and the Dems would have lost precisely because they did everything they could to prevent it from happening.

Anyway politics aside, like it or not, and deny it or not, they are objectively providing aid and comfort to the enemy. The problem is that they won't start acting in the national interest until, to paraphrase Golda Meir, they start loving their country more than they hunger for power and hate George Bush.

[Update a few minutes later]

More contempt for Harry Reid from the troops.

[Afternoon update]

OK, that's progress. I guess.

Now Harry will listen to Petraeus. He just won't believe anything he says. Unless, of course, it fits with the leftist narrative.

Well, hey, we already know that the truth is inconvenient.

[Late afternoon update]

OK, one more, since it's still near the top. Dick Cheney is too kind to Harry Reid:

...only last November, Senator Reid said there would be no cutoff of funds for the military in Iraq. So in less than six months' time, Senator Reid has gone from pledging full funding for the military, then full funding but with conditions, and then a cutoff of funding — three positions in five months on the most important foreign policy question facing the nation and our troops.

Yesterday, Senator Reid said the troop surge was against the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. That is plainly false. The Iraq Study Group report was explicitly favorable toward a troop surge to secure Baghdad. Senator Reid said there should be a regional conference on Iraq. Apparently, he doesn't know that there is going to be one next week. Senator Reid said he doesn't have real substantive meetings with the President. Yet immediately following last week's meeting at the White House, he said, "It was a good exchange; everyone voiced their considered opinion about the war in Iraq."

What's most troubling about Senator Reid's comments yesterday is his defeatism. Indeed, last week, he said the war is already lost. And the timetable legislation that he is now pursuing would guarantee defeat.

Well, if that's what's necessary to elect Democrats, "bring it on."

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 24, 2007 08:19 AM
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Harry Reid will not be running for President in 2008. I predict it will be Barack Obama with Bill Richardson as the Veep candidate (and I will personally work for that second goal).

Anyway, yesterday Obama said this and yes we all should read the whole thing:

The horrific attacks on that clear September day awakened us to this new reality. And after 9/11, millions around the world were ready to stand with us. They were willing to rally to our cause because it was their cause too – because they knew that if America led the world toward a new era of global cooperation, it would advance the security of people in our nation and all nations.

We now know how badly this Administration squandered that opportunity. In 2002, I stated my opposition to the war in Iraq, not only because it was an unnecessary diversion from the struggle against the terrorists who attacked us on September 11th, but also because it was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the threats that 9/11 brought to light. I believed then, and believe now, that it was based on old ideologies and outdated strategies – a determination to fight a 21st century struggle with a 20th century mindset.

There is no doubt that the mistakes of the past six years have made our current task more difficult. World opinion has turned against us. And after all the lives lost and the billions of dollars spent, many Americans may find it tempting to turn inward, and cede our claim of leadership in world affairs.

I insist, however, that such an abandonment of our leadership is a mistake we must not make. America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America. We must neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission – we must lead the world, by deed and example.

Is there any Republican who can come close to being able to rally ALL America?

Obama's position (as I see it) is this.

We must lead the world and oppose radical Islam but we also must stop trying to drive screws with hammers, as this Administration and the neo-cons would have us do.

Posted by Bill White at April 24, 2007 09:09 AM

Obama's position (as I see it) is this.

Why would you think that a political neophyte with zero foreign policy experience who speaks soothing blather will "rally America," Bill? Just because that's his position as you see it won't mean that others will see it that way. I for one see it as either meaningless, with no real strategy, or a barn full of straw men, or both.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 24, 2007 09:31 AM

Any regard I might've had for Bill's position in the comment above went out the window when he started invoking the boogieman^Wneocons.

Posted by Rick C at April 24, 2007 09:47 AM

Rand, all those we thought of as being foreign policy "experts" have come a cropper. Every rosy prediction for Iraq or the Middle East has failed. That's why the surge, that's why the new strategies, that's why Petraeus.

This "neophyte" may offer the country a lot more than one might expect from his "experience." That is unless half the country decides to trash him reflexively before he gets a fair hearing.

Posted by Offside at April 24, 2007 09:52 AM

Rand, all those we thought of as being foreign policy "experts" have come a cropper.

That's nonsense. In 2002 and 2003, Bush treated real expertise as disloyalty. Eric Shinseki and Paul O'Neill were both proven right. So was Hans Blix, despite Rand's fascination with Elvis sightings.

Posted by at April 24, 2007 10:12 AM

This "neophyte" may offer the country a lot more than one might expect from his "experience." That is unless half the country decides to trash him reflexively before he gets a fair hearing.

It will not be half of America which reflexively trashes Obama. Maybe a third or a quarter but not half. And stuff like this will help unite the rest of America.

Posted by Bill White at April 24, 2007 10:18 AM

Offside said: Every rosy prediction for Iraq or the Middle East has failed.

Hmm. We predicted we would win over Saddam, we did. We predicted we would support a fledgling nation and fight an insurgency and we have reports from people fighting that action that say we're winning. One out of two blows "every" away.

Posted by Mac at April 24, 2007 10:26 AM

Rand, can you explain why this is "soothing blather"

I believe that the single most important job of any President is to protect the American people. And I am equally convinced that doing that job effectively in the 21st century will require a new vision of American leadership and a new conception of our national security – a vision that draws from the lessons of the past, but is not bound by outdated thinking.

In today’s globalized world, the security of the American people is inextricably linked to the security of all people. When narco-trafficking and corruption threaten democracy in Latin America, it’s America’s problem too. When poor villagers in Indonesia have no choice but to send chickens to market infected with avian flu, it cannot be seen as a distant concern. When religious schools in Pakistan teach hatred to young children, our children are threatened as well.

So long as Pakistani Islamic schools teach hate America is at risk.

So long as Indonesian chickens with bird flu enter the global food chain America is at risk.

Unsecured Ukrainian nuclear material was mentioned in another passage.

I don't see any blather here.

Posted by Bill White at April 24, 2007 10:28 AM

"So long as Pakistani Islamic schools teach hate America is at risk."

No problems with that, I just seriously doubt that he can come up with a way to end it. Short of, you know, just giving those schools and their supporters what ever it is they want so they'll leave us alone. Then again, Dane-geld and all, so maybe there are some things in this world that we'll just have to put up with.

Posted by Crimso at April 24, 2007 10:52 AM

Rand, can you explain why this is "soothing blather"?

Yes. Because like many Democrat speeches, it's a list of worthwhile goals, with no plan whatsoever as to how to actually achieve them. You know, like "all we are saying, is give peace a chance"?

I haven't heard Senator Obama come up with any concrete, realistic policy proposals. Just vague talk about "hope," and "new directions." I know that touchy-feely Donkeys eat that stuff up, and find it inspiring, but it leaves me pretty cold.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 24, 2007 11:09 AM

"Look, I don't think that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi objectively want Al Qaeda to win."

Sorry, Rand - I disagree. They don't care what happens as long as it damages President Bush or the Republican party.

After all, it's not like Iraqis can vote for them. And if/when Al-Q comes here again - due in no small part to DemocRats' policies - they'll just blame Bush.

The word "treason" keeps popping into my mind for some reason....

Posted by Barbara Skolaut at April 24, 2007 11:19 AM

The word "treason" keeps popping into my mind for some reason....

Hmmm . . .

Are you on Tom Delay's e-mail list? Maybe that could be one reason.

Posted by Bill White at April 24, 2007 12:15 PM

God, I sure hope the donks nominate the fetching black boy-toy from Illinois. Tall, handsome, sensitive, agreeable, vacuous, easy on the eyes and the brain, the perfect first date for the young working girl not yet ready to settle down.

It'll be the biggest blowout since McGovern took the party straight into the national self-castration toilet, and hopefully force the Democrats to finally grow up and produce serious Presidential candidates instead of Presidential campaign reality-show contestants.

Posted by Carl Pham at April 24, 2007 02:18 PM

God, I sure hope the donks nominate the fetching black boy-toy from Illinois.

I'm glad that you're open-minded enough to accept interracial dating.

As for Harry Reid vs George Bush, Bush will get his money soon enough --- without the withdrawal deadline. Year 5 of the war in Iraq will go the same way as years 1-4. Come spring, 2008, it will be the same story: Gimme my sixth hundred billion dollars, no strings attached, or it's sabotage.

The year after that, the new president will begin to withdraw from Iraq, and Rush Limbaugh et al will accuse that president of treason. The resolution of the Algerian war is a grim warning of the possibilities after that. After de Gaulle accepted defeat in Algeria in 1962, French militarists tried to assassinate him. I don't know if it will come to that here in the US, but it just might.

Posted by at April 24, 2007 02:52 PM


I can think of a very effective way to stop the teaching of jihadism in madrassas - convert school, "teachers" and students without discrimination; convert them into highly ionised plasma.

Posted by Fletcher Christian at April 24, 2007 02:54 PM


Of your original quote of Obama, what do you see as substantive?

All I see are buzz phrases and misleading or outright false pablum.

For example, what GENUINE "good will" have we squandered? Can you point to "good will we had on September 10th, 2001, that we have lost due to US actions since then?

Just wondering, because, you know, I see a whole lot of cooperation with the US.


Continued progress toward a stable, democratic, independent Iraq.

Proliferation Security Initiative

a Pacific basin initiative to reduce CO2 emissions though technology sharing

Malacca Straits security coordination

France's ONLY aircraft carrier deployed with US in CENTCOM AOR

Tsunami relief

ABM work with the EU, including sites in Poland and Czech Republic.

Free trade negotiations with Vietnam and many others

Improving relations with Germany and France, particularly since the 2004 Presidential elections.

Those are my specific examples. There are many others.

What are your examples to counter these? Can you demonstrate that your examples are not merely for the domestic political purposes of those who make them?

To be sure, we continue to receive no good will from those who weren't offering it prior to September 11th:

Hugo Chavez
Fidel Castro
Saddam Hussein
Mogadishu warlords
Transnational elites of the EU

Their good will and $3 will get you a venti Americano at Starbucks.



Posted by MG at April 24, 2007 03:29 PM

The problem is that cheney has zero credibility on anything.

We are winning in Anbar...but that is no thanks to Stay the course Cheney and his pal Rummy


Posted by at April 24, 2007 04:51 PM

Game, set and match, MG.

[the crowd cheers]

Posted by Carl Pham at April 24, 2007 07:32 PM

We are in a diseased, hyper-partisan political atmosphere that is poisonous to our national unity. We spend more time and energy fighting each other than we do against Al Qaeda. And I blame both parties for this.

At this rate we are headed for civil war.

Posted by JonBuck at April 24, 2007 08:19 PM

Look, if the Dems get blown out in 2008, if it really is 1972 all over again, the Dem response will be: "Our candidate just wasn't liberal enough! His/Her ideology wasn't pure enough! We were too weak on ___insert here___ (the Iraq War/gun control/abortion/global warming)!"

On the other hand, I think Gore is coming and he is not thinking 1972, he is thinking 1968 and the Nixon Road Map to the White House. Compare the similarities to Nixon in the 60's and Gore now and you will shudder. Gore isn't refighting the last war, he is going back and studying ancient political wars and believes he has come up with a winning strategy for 2008.

Posted by Letalis at April 24, 2007 08:25 PM

Who ever thinks world opinion was in our favor has his head up his ass. Most of this world is ruled by corrupt despots who ALWAYS want to see us fail.
Obama is getting dumber and dumber every time he opens his mouth.
He is what all Illonios politicians are, messagener boys for the Daly crime family.

Posted by Terry at April 24, 2007 08:28 PM

Look, I don't think that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi objectively want Al Qaeda to win.

I do.

Posted by wolfwalker at April 24, 2007 08:54 PM

"Look, I don't think that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi objectively want Al Qaeda to win. I'm sure that they have succeeded in deluding themselves that we are the problem in Iraq."

Sorry, but he's an adult, in a position of enormous responsibilities, and I see no objective indicia thatq Reaid does NOT want us to lose this war. Other than his outright pronouncements of our failure, there are his repeated references to Vietnam, as a reprisal. Therefore, I can only conclude that Reid does, in fact, wish for the failure of our forces, the defeat of our foreign policy, our humiliation, and the dramatically increased danger to our homeland from a solid al quaida training\operations base in Sunni Iraq, and an IRanian influenced Shiatte area of Iraq. This would provide an excellent position for the future aquisition and development of a panoply of terrorist weapons and tactics to be deployed in our country.

Yep, Reidis objectively a traitor to the Anerican national interest. Is there some objective reason I can conclude otherwise? And Obama? On foreign policy? Give it a rest, man. He obviously has NO education in the field and hasn't taken any opportunity to learn anything on the subject.

Posted by canpflier at April 24, 2007 09:10 PM

At this rate we are headed for civil war.

Get a grip. You've mistaken mere vigorous debate for black bloody rage. This is not the 1850s. People are not being murdered (Bloody Kansas) or hung (John Brown) for their beliefs of where the Union should head. I'd gladly chip in to have Berserker Brian's head examined, but that doesn't mean I'd like to see him shot -- or even that I'd refuse to shake his hand and buy him a cold beer. Indeed, I'd take up arms and risk my life to preserve his freedom, and his freedom to say completely dumbass things in print. In this, I expect I speak for most adults here. That's what it means to be American, no?

It's this kind of lack of historical perspective that lets Harry Reid (who's old enough to know better) call Iraq a "lost" war when its cost in blood after three years equals the first 30 minutes of the battle for Iwo Jima, maybe. Or Barack Obama quail before the world's putative hurt feelings, whereas 60 years ago his fellow naive Midwestern Democrat (Harry Truman) stood eyeball to eyeball with Marshall Stalin in Berlin and didn't flinch.

Let us try not to embarass the shades of our grandfathers, please.

Posted by Carl Pham at April 24, 2007 09:15 PM

Yep, Reid is objectively a traitor to the Anerican national interest. Is there some objective reason I can conclude otherwise?

Yeah. He hasn't sold General Petraeus' secret plans to some rich Saudi bastard fronting for AQ in Iraq. He hasn't mailed blueprints for a compact nuclear warhead to A. Nonymous, c/o General Delivery, Tehran. Et cetera.

Harry Reid may be wholly full of shit and as wrong as a deliberate attempt to imagine Rosie O'Donnell in a thong -- and I think he is -- but he's in no sense a traitor to the United States. Indeed, he's not doing much more than expressing a typical Western states agrarian/populist distaste for imperialistic and quasi-imperialistic ventures. In another context that might actually be wisdom. He has the right idea at the wrong time, and that puts him in quite respectable company. I've been there myself, from time to time.

Note for those slow on the uptake: I'm not saying I, personally, wouldn't if I could see to it that Harry Reid loses his job and goes back to real estate swindling in Sin City. But being worthy of being punted from public office because you're an unhelpful idiot is not the same as being worthy of execution because you've betrayed your country.

Posted by Carl Pham at April 24, 2007 09:34 PM

Well one things for sure, I don't think we are going to beat Al Qaeda and their ilk with a permanently divided country. This war will take decades and I confess its very troubling to see the vitriol being poured out from both sides: dems wanting to see bush frog marched out of the white house, republicans wanting to see democrats implode with a McGovernite pick in 2008'. I'd vote for anyone who could make this a united fight against Al Qaeda, and I doubt I'm alone.

Posted by gk at April 24, 2007 09:48 PM

"Offside said: Every rosy prediction for Iraq or the Middle East has failed."

I learned in the 7th grade how to avoid the use of flippantly superlative statements.

Posted by Josh Reiter at April 24, 2007 09:52 PM

You've mistaken mere vigorous debate for black bloody rage.

I don't think that we're headed for civil war either, but we may be headed for some right-wing domestic terrorism. Timothy McVeigh bombed the Murrah building in response to the Waco siege. Francisco Duran tried to kill Clinton because of the 1994 assault weapons ban. When the next president pulls out of Iraq, many on the right will see it as treason and voluntary defeat. It could well stir up deeper anger than either Waco or a gun control law.

Posted by at April 24, 2007 10:48 PM

When the next president pulls out of Iraq, many on the right will...

You think? On the other hand, while many on the right hope President Guiliani or Romney has more sense than that, they're aware it might happen. I'd say they're braced for either event.

But the "reality-based community" -- now where's that thread on irony when I need it? -- is making statements like When the next president pulls out of Iraq.... Note the lack of any "if" or "probably" hedging. It's a totally done deal, can't miss, bet your pension on it. The kind of utter confidence about predicting the future that only con artists and psychotics routinely display.

I think it's the folks who haven't even imagined the possibility that their predictions might be hogwash who will be gobsmacked by reality and come unhinged.

Posted by Carl Pham at April 25, 2007 01:45 AM

Out of the 18 Iraqi provinces, 3 kurdish ones have their greatest security threats being foreign incursion from Turkey and Iran. Terrorism is successfully kept out. 4 arab provinces are under local management and we rarely, if ever, do anything there. That's 7 down, 11 to go with the rest of the provinces in various stages along the road towards handover. I fully expect that when the balance is 10:8 instead of 7:11 that we're going to see a sea change in coverage because "a majority of Iraq is under local control and relatively quiet" and all the MSM is going to realize that if they don't get on the right side of this quickly, the deluge of broken credibility will very likely worsen and shorten their personal careers significantly.

I expect at least 3 more provinces to get handed over between now and the height of campaign season 2008. I'd like to think that at least 6 more would make the transition by then (obviating the need to explain Kurdistan's special situation in the stats). The defeatists have to change the natural progression of Iraqi government and security institution building and do it soon or they're going to be in deep trouble in 2008.

Posted by TM Lutas at April 25, 2007 03:02 AM

TM Lutas, I think it's fair to say that Kurdistan is a very, very different beast than Arab Iraq. Out of Arab Iraq, 4 out of 15 provinces are under local management after four years. That's not a very good record, if that's the measure we're going to use.

Posted by John Bragg at April 25, 2007 07:59 AM

There is a fundamental difference between the motivations of Bush and Reid. Bush is doing what he believes is the right and necessary thing for America, and ultimately western civilization. Reid is doing what he believes is the right and necessary thing for the Democratic Party.

Anyone who can't see that, doesn't want to see it.

Posted by sherlock at April 25, 2007 08:32 AM

> Out of Arab Iraq, 4 out of 15 provinces are under local management after four years. That's not a very good record, if that's the measure we're going to use.

It's better than has ever been done before.

There are lots of Arab places outside Iraq to demonstrate "superior methods". What? You're not willing to try?

Posted by Andy Freeman at April 25, 2007 09:07 AM

Hey Sherlock, if that wasn't your name, I'd have made it up. Has it ever crossed your mind that maybe, even given the motivations of Bush et al, that he might be completely and utterly wrong?

I'm sure you've heard the old saw, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Posted by gab at April 25, 2007 10:01 AM

Freeman, I'm for victory in Iraq. I'm just against using deceptive or inappropriate numbers. Kurdistan was stable and as democratic as the Muslim world gets before and after Gulf War II. The relevant set is Arab Iraq, which has 15 provinces. Saying that we have 7 out of 18 provinces done and the rest in progress implies that the job is halfway done, when "the job" is the 15 Arab provinces.

I'm not sure that "provinces handed over to full Iraqi control" is the best metric. And if it is, what does it say that we've only gotten half of the largely-quiet Shia south up to par?

The major problems have been Baghdad, Anbar, tension over Kirkuk and Muqtada al-Sadr. Anbar seems to be going well, and the surge seems to be doing a lot for the al-Sadr and Baghdad problems.

That doesn't mean we're where we should be after four years. A lot of time was wasted.

Posted by at April 25, 2007 10:39 AM

OK, even if we accept the 15 Arab provinces as the starting line and not the total 18 Iraqi provinces, the fact that 4 are where we want them does not necessarily imply the remaining 11 are at the zero point. Iraq development has been a parallel, not a serial, endeavor. TM's prediction does not seem too far afield. If the naysayers would hold their political posturing for a while it would be even much more likely.

Posted by submandave at April 25, 2007 11:02 AM

gab, if the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then ill-intentions must build an expressway.

Posted by submandave at April 25, 2007 11:05 AM

"That doesn't mean we're where we should be after four years. A lot of time was wasted."

That may be so, but the relevent question is not where should we be or how we should have got there, but if the desired goal (free and autonmous Iraq) is still desirable and/or necessary for victory/progress in the overall GWOT. If the answer to that question is "yes" (and I believe it is), then defeatist blame games and political posturing that mimics the enemy's propaganda are counter-productive while we are in the midst of the campaign.

Posted by submandave at April 25, 2007 11:12 AM

> I'm just against using deceptive or inappropriate numbers.

How is Bragg's claim of 4 of 15 in four years deceptive?

And, "just against using" is not true. As Bragg wrote previously.

>>>That's not a very good record, if that's the measure we're going to use.

If you're going to claim that 4 of 15 in four years inadequate, feel free to step up.

Posted by Andy Freeman at April 25, 2007 06:22 PM


Good post. Unfortunately the first link in the post doesn't work. I wanted to read the rest.

Posted by Lance at April 30, 2007 07:31 AM

Sorry, it's fixed now. Funny, with all the commenters, you're the first one to point it out. Of course, it is possible to clean up the URL, and maybe some did, but it supports my long-standing thesis that a lot of commenters respond only to what I write or excerpt, and don't follow the links.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 30, 2007 07:55 AM

Hi, there!..

Posted by John at November 18, 2007 03:29 PM

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