Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Left Still Doesn't Get it... The Surge Was Successful

Another amazing and factual analysis on Iraq by Engram at Backtalk Blog

Evaluating The Troop Surge Through The Eyes of The Left
A perfectly liberal analysis of the troop surge just appeared in the Washington Post. In the end, the poor fellow ties himself up in knots trying to figure out why our troops are still there, and, as usual, his confusion can be traced directly to his refusal to name the enemy in Iraq. In addition, despite the fact that his piece appears in the esteemed Washington Post whereas my response appears on this lowly blog, his piece is filled with sweeping and unsubstantiated assertions whereas my response is filled with direct evidence and links to each source (so you can check these matters for yourself). Odd that it has to be that way. In any case, let's see what he has to say:

Surge to Nowhere

Don't buy the hawks' hype. The war may be off the front pages, but Iraq is broken beyond repair, and we still own it.

By Andrew J. Bacevich
Sunday, January 20, 2008; Page B01

As the fifth anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom nears, the fabulists are again trying to weave their own version of the war. The latest myth is that the "surge" is working.
As the violence in Baghdad and Anbar province abates, the political and economic dysfunction enveloping Iraq has become all the more apparent. The recent agreement to rehabilitate some former Baathists notwithstanding, signs of lasting Sunni-Shiite reconciliation are scant. The United States has acquired a ramshackle, ungovernable and unresponsive dependency that is incapable of securing its own borders or managing its own affairs. More than three years after then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice handed President Bush a note announcing that "Iraq is sovereign," that sovereignty remains a fiction.

Wow. There's an awful lot packed into that paragraph, so let's take it apart real slow. First, back when civilian casualties were spiraling out of control, anti-war extremists loved to cite very detailed casualty statistics (such as the number of bodies piling up in the Baghdad morgue every month). Not any more. Now, the incredible success of the troop surge with respect to casualties in Iraq is relegated to a mere one-half of one single sentence, as if it is quite painful to discuss but is also too obvious to simply ignore. Here is his entire analysis of the effect of the troop surge on casualties in Iraq: "As the violence in Baghdad and Anbar province abates..." That's it? Are any lives being saved? Or are we just protecting a few bridges that were once being bombed? Let me show you what violence abating looks like in terms of innocent human lives (according to detailed statistics from Iraq Body Count):

I haven't adjusted the data at all, and the numbers are fairly complete through November (which is the most recent month shown). You can see a big one-month spike in casualties from a panic-driven stampede that killed over 1000 people way back in August of 2005, but otherwise casualties were generally in the vicinity of about 1000 per month until early 2006. The black bar marks the month that al Qaeda bombed the Golden Mosque in Samarra, which set off a wave of uncontrollable sectarian violence (and brought casualties to nearly 3000 per month). The purple bars show the months of the troop surge, which began to unfold in February of 2007 and became operational only last June. From September on, casualties are down to about 1000 per month again. Thus, what Bacevich relegates to a mere half-sentence translates into almost 2000 civilian lives being saved every month. Let me repeat that: almost 2000 civilian lives are being saved every month. I guess that's chump change to the decent left, so much so that it can be accurately summarized by simply saying that violence is abating.

I think I'm going to start a new Iraq Body Count, one that keeps track of the minimum number of civilians that would have died every month had our troops been withdrawn, as humanitarians on the left wanted to do even though they knew perfectly well that it would result in genocide. The number of innocent lives saved as a result of the troop surge is going up fast, and I suspect it will keep going up for a long time to come.

Continuing with the first sentence of that jam-packed paragraph, Bacevich refers to "economic dysfunction" (with no data or citations to back his point, of course). Here's what the International Monetary Fund has to say about that:

Iraqi economy set to accelerate, IMF predicts

The Iraqi economy should enjoy a significant acceleration in growth this year if the country's security situation continues to improve, the International Monetary Fund predicted today.

The IMF expects the economy to expand as much as 7pc this year, possibly rising to 8pc in 2009, after anecdotal evidence suggested the country has topped the fund's prediction of 1.3pc growth for last year.

Perhaps Bacevich is a more credible source than the IMF, but I don't regard him as such. To me, he seems like little more than a snotty liberal doing his best to minimize the remarkable success in Iraq. Some of Bacevich's specific economic concerns fall in the areas of electricity and oil production:

Even today, Iraqi electrical generation meets barely half the daily national requirements. Baghdad households now receive power an average of 12 hours each day -- six hours fewer than when Saddam Hussein ruled. Oil production still has not returned to pre-invasion levels.

Geez. The troop surge achieved its incredible success a mere 4.5 months ago. What do you want, an economic miracle to happen in that short time? Well, that's basically what you have. The best way to look at electricity is with regard to megawatts generated in Iraq as a whole (not hours of electricity in Baghdad). Here are those numbers for each month of each year (data taken from the Iraq Index):

The dashed line represents the average pre-war level. As you can see, the last few months have seen the highest output yet (with that high output being associated with the success of the troop surge in reducing casualties). I don't think that fact comes through from reading Bacevich's evidence-free diatribe.

With regard to oil production, it's true that Iraq has still not hit its pre-war peak, but you really should look at the recent trend (because, after all, conditions have improved only recently):

The dashed line indicates the pre-war peak, and you can see that output is nearing that level. You can also see why the IMF is optimistic about the future even though Bacevich isn't. Indeed, the increased production and increased price of oil has been great for oil revenues:

Those are some economic facts and figures about Iraq. Sweeping it all away by mindlessly referring to "economic dysfunction" is a downright bizarre thing to do.

And about that political reconciliation that Bacevich also tries to minimize even as it unfolds before his very eyes, here is what the UN has to say:

UN sees Iraq progress despite misgivings

BAGHDAD, Jan 16 (Reuters) - The United Nations envoy to Baghdad said on Wednesday he would present a positive picture of progress in Iraq in a report to the Security Council despite earlier having serious misgivings about reconciliation efforts. U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura said the passing of a key law allowing former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to return to government jobs had changed what had been a pessimistic view of progress in a crucial year for Iraq.

Bacevich is the kind of person who typically reveres the UN, so this UN analysis upsets his apple cart just a bit.

At the end of his column, Bacevich gets to the very heart of the matter:

But how exactly do these sacrifices serve the national interest? What has the loss of nearly 4,000 U.S. troops and the commitment of about $1 trillion -- with more to come -- actually gained the United States?
In reality, the war's effects are precisely the inverse of those that Bush and his lieutenants expected. Baghdad has become a strategic cul-de-sac. Only the truly blinkered will imagine at this late date that Iraq has shown the United States to be the "stronger horse." In fact, the war has revealed the very real limits of U.S. power. And for good measure, it has boosted anti-Americanism to record levels, recruited untold numbers of new jihadists, enhanced the standing of adversaries such as Iran and diverted resources and attention from Afghanistan, a theater of war far more directly relevant to the threat posed by al-Qaeda. Instead of draining the jihadist swamp, the Iraq war is continuously replenishing it.

Many on the left think like this because they are simply blind to the fact that al Qaeda decided to make Iraq (not Afghanistan) the central front in their war with America. You can blame Bush for that, but it's downright bizarre not to acknowledge that (a) al Qaeda suicide bombers deliberately provoked Shiite militias into killing Sunnis and (b) after the bombing of the Golden Mosque, the Shiite militias complied in an effort to eliminate al Qaeda's suicide bombing campaign against them. Instead of acknowledging this undeniable reality, Bacevich adheres to the standard liberal fiction that al Qaeda was in Afghanistan, not Iraq. In this regard, he has joined the likes of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, both of whom also failed to notice the transparently obvious fact that while al Qaeda's suicide bombers were killing thousands in Iraq, they were hardly doing anything in Afghanistan.

Does Bacevich exhibit any curiosity at all about who the suicide bombers of Iraq might be? No, because like almost everyone on the left, his mind is enfeebled by the mistaken civil war scenario advocated by our left leaning mainstream media. But he really should pick up today's paper, where he'll find this news:

Papers Paint New Portrait of Iraq's Foreign Insurgents

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 21, 2008; Page A01
The cache of documents was discovered last fall by U.S. forces in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar.
The records are "one of the deepest reservoirs of information we've ever obtained of the network going into Iraq," according to a U.S. official closely familiar with intelligence on the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Suicide attacks by the Sunni group against Shiite targets sparked the sectarian violence that swept Iraq in 2006 and the first half of last year. Al-Qaeda in Iraq carried out more than 4,500 attacks against civilians in 2007, killing 3,870 and wounding nearly 18,000, the military announced yesterday.

Based on the Sinjar records, U.S. military officials in Iraq said they now think that nine out of 10 suicide bombers have been foreigners, compared with earlier estimates of 75 percent.

Get the picture? That this story is now coming through loud and clear in the mainstream media is nothing short of extraordinary. It makes it clear that, contrary to what everyone of the left believes, the suicide bombers are foreign al Qaeda terrorists who have been incredibly deadly (killing nearly 4000 innocent civilians in 2007 alone). My only complaint about the story is that it does not make a critical point that the vast majority of readers need to have spelled out for them. In particular, it makes no mention of why al Qaeda is slaughtering innocent Muslims by the thousands in Iraq. Thus, readers are left to think along these lines: "well, let's see, al Qaeda is made up of Sunnis, and there's a civil war in Iraq between Sunnis and Shiites that George Bush stirred up with his misbegotten adventure in Iraq, so it must be the case that al Qaeda is fighting on the Sunni side of that civil war."

To the extent that a casual consumer of the news thinks about al Qaeda in Iraq, they are likely to think along those lines. But they could not be more wrong. We've known for years what al Qaeda is trying to accomplish with their suicide bombing campaign because the late leader of al Qaeda in Iraq (Zarqawi) spelled it all out in a letter that was intercepted way back in 2004. He made it quite clear that he did not want to join a civil in Iraq. Instead, because such a war was not happening on its own, he decided to incite one. That is, he decided to goad the Shiite militias into killing Sunnis because the resulting chaos would suit al Qaeda's purposes. Inciting a civil war is different from joining a civil war. Here is some of what he said:

The Shi'a in our opinion, these are the key to change. Targeting and striking their religious, political, and military symbols, will make them show their rage against the Sunnis and bear their inner vengeance. If we succeed in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis who are fearful of destruction and death at the hands of these Sabeans.
As far as the Shi'a, we will undertake suicide operations and use car bombs to harm them.
Some people will say, that this will be a reckless and irresponsible action that will bring the Islamic nation to a battle for which the Islamic nation is unprepared. Souls will perish and blood will be spilled. This is, however, exactly what we want...

That is, al Qaeda's plan (i.e., Zarqawi's wickedly ingenious idea) was to slaughter Shiites using suicide bombers and to destroy Shiite mosques to goad them into killing Sunnis. In Zarqawi's mind, that's the scenario that would advance the cause of al Qaeda in Iraq.

But Bacevich, like just about everyone on the left, is blissfully unaware of all of this. That explains why he thinks that al Qaeda's crushing defeat in Iraq is some sort of propaganda victory for them (not the propaganda disaster it actually is). That's exactly what you'd think if you didn't know the facts and lived in a liberal echo chamber (as he I assume he does).

Bacevich doesn't appear to know that al Qaeda's suicide bombers were killing Muslims by the thousands in Iraq, but the Muslim world is not that naive. They know perfectly well who has been slaughtering innocent Muslims in Iraq, which is why al Qaeda's reputation has simply plummeted throughout the Muslim world according to the latest Pew Global Attitudes survey:

According to opponents of the invasion of Iraq, it wasn't supposed to happen this way. Instead, the invasion was supposed to inflame the passions of the Muslim world and provide a propaganda victory to al Qaeda. Instead, the Muslim world has turned against al Qaeda. They have also turned increasingly against al Qaeda's method of fighting their war, which consists of suicide bombings that target innocent civilians:

Al Qaeda's only hope of recovering its former glory was to achieve victory over America by helping the Democrats to force a troop withdrawal, thereby allowing al Qaeda's relentless slaughter of innocent Shiites to continue unopposed. And this also helps to explain the eerie code of silence about al Qaeda in Iraq among Democrats. That is, Democrats think of themselves as being "decent" people. It is an explicit part of their identity, and they feel that it separates them from the indecent party (namely, the Republicans). I know this feeling well because I have been a Democrat all my life. I obviously don't feel that way anymore, but I do know the mind set. And it explains why the liberal mind is so reluctant to accept the undeniable fact that al Qaeda declared war on America in Iraq. Because no decent person would recommend throwing innocent Iraqis to the wolves of al Qaeda (especially since our invasion attracted al Qaeda to Iraq), the only way to maintain one's sense of decency while simultaneously calling for a troop withdrawal that would permanently discredit George Bush was to ignore (and even deny) the existence of al Qaeda in Iraq. So that's what the Democrats did, and they are still doing it today.

Ironically, Bacevich says that the war has "...recruited untold numbers of new jihadists" even though we can be pretty sure that his preferred approach (namely, withdrawal) is what would have done that. This is based on a National Intelligence Estimate that Democrats once gleefully leaked to the press because it said that our invasion had become a cause celeb for jihadists around the world. Indeed, it had. That's why Bacevich is stuck on that idea. But like everyone on the left (and everyone in the mainstream media), he missed the rest of what that very NIE had to say:

The Iraq conflict has become the cause celebre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.
we judge that al-Qa’ida will continue to pose the greatest threat to the Homeland and US interests abroad by a single terrorist organization.
Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.

Not only has al Qaeda's reputation been shot down throughout the Muslim world, jihadists leaving Iraq must now perceive themselves to have failed. It cannot be otherwise. But the exact opposite would have happened had the Democrats gotten their way. In that case, they would have achieved a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just as Bush achieved a self-fulfilling prophecy (i.e., Iraq became became the central front in the war on terror that it wasn't at the time we invaded), the Democrats could have had theirs, too (i.e., our withdrawal would have caused the jihadists to have perceived themselves to be victorious, which, in turn, would have helped them to recruit untold numbers of new jihadists). Fortunately for everyone, the Democrats did not get their way.

Finally, let's revisit the heart of the matter. Bacevich asked: "But how exactly do these sacrifices serve the national interest?" Great question. For the answer, look at what is happening in Iraq and then also look at al Qaeda's standing in the world. If things continue as they are in Iraq, history will not overlook what Bacevich chooses not to see: al Qaeda will have suffered a crushing defeat of historic proportions because they invested everything in Iraq. We were going to have this war with al Qaeda whether or not we invaded Iraq. We didn't know it at the time, but, in retrospect, it seems clear that the suicide bombers were coming, either to Afghanistan or, as it turned out, to Iraq. Our only choice was to defeat them, and, for that reason, I am very grateful that John Kerry did not defeat George Bush in 2004. It seems likely to me that Kerry would have surrendered to al Qaeda in Iraq, perhaps without even realizing what he was doing. By contrast, when al Qaeda struck hard and created sectarian strife in Iraq (by design), Bush ordered a troop surge that is now saving innocent lives per month, is promoting political reconciliation, and has simply crushed al Qaeda in Iraq while shattering their reputation throughout the Muslim world. To you, that might seem like "a surge to nowhere," but, to me, it seems like a historic victory over the al Qaeda jihadists who declared war on America on September 11, 2001.
-By Engram- BackTalk Blog

God Bless you Engram, telling the truth at a time America needs some truth.



Post a Comment

<< Home