Saturday, October 04, 2008

Endless War Update

I’m no military strategist, but the reports coming out of Iraq about the progress handing over the defense of Iraq to the Iraqi Security Forces is downright encouraging.

On Sept. 1, Anbar Province became the eleventh of 18 Iraqi provinces to revert to Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC). Speculation as to when Babil and Wassit Provinces would follow has been all over the calendar, but all prior to December 2008. The latest 9010 Quarterly Report to Congress, released Sept. 30, states that Babil and Wassit will transfer to PIC in late-October and November respectively. The remaining five provinces are scheduled for 2009. This includes the four provinces with the highest numbers of attacks on Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces over the last year: Ninawa, Diyala, Salahadin, and Baghdad. The fifth province is Kirkuk, whose status remains a point of contention between the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government and the central Government of Iraq. Of particular note, all of the provinces are scheduled to transition before June 2009. This indicates the remaining coalition forces are to be in overwatch by the end of the summer 2009, with Iraqi Security Forces conducting day-to-day operation throughout Iraq.Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle: October 2008 update.”

If all goes according to plan, that means US forces will not be involved in combat in Iraq after late summer 2009, less than one year from now. And all provinces of Iraq will have been handed back to Iraqi forces to defend.

As I said, I’m no military strategist, but if that doesn’t qualify as something like victory, I don’t know what would.

Yet the other night, when debating with Sarah Palin, Joe Biden still wasn’t ready to admit this war is nearly won. That admission clashes too harshly with the "no political progress, no military progress, no end in sight" motto of the Obama campaign. (Hey, how can I knock it as a campaign ploy? It seems to be working with a huge number of my countrymen).

Biden countered Palin’s account of McCain's successful approach to Iraq with that of Obama, the Master Strategician:

Gwen, with all due respect, I didn't hear a plan. Barack Obama offered a clear plan. Shift responsibility to Iraqis over the next 16 months. Draw down our combat troops. Ironically the same plan that Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq and George Bush are now negotiating.

Except this has nothing to do with what Maliki and Bush are negotiating. The military progress in Iraq isn’t being negotiated, it's being won by our troops. What Bush and Maliki are negotiating are the post-war military arrangements. Now necessary because the End Is Near for the This Endless War.

And the irony of what is happening now is not, as Biden suggests, that Bush and Maliki have now adopted Obama’s plan(?!), but that Obama came up with a new plan this past July intended to conform to the Iraqi reality (the outstanding success of the Surge and the sighting of final victory). We’ve already seen that another portion of his plan (shot down by Iraqi leaders) was to go to Iraq and try to get the Iraqi leaders to slow down the withdrawal talks.

Obama's last "clear plan" for Iraq, the won he ran on to win the primary, was the one he laid out last September:

Obama laid out his four-point strategy for Iraq today before a packed crowd at Ashton University in Clinton, Iowa. It is comprised of: 1) Commencing in an immediate withdrawal of one or two brigades (3,500 or 7,000 troops) a month; 2) a pressing effort for political stability, with aid from a United Nations constitutional convention; 3) increased regional diplomacy, especially with leaders of Syria and Iran; and 4) humanitarian intervention and financial aid to help stem the effects of current and future sectarian violence.

In other words, 1) withdraw 2) ask UN to help draft a new constitution 3) hat-in-hand talks with Syria’s al-Assad and Iran’s Ahmadinejad, and 4) a humanitarian surge to bury bodies and provision refugee camps in the terrorist chaos that ensues in the wake of an American rout.

You’ll notice that none of Obama’s points actually involved defeating the guys blowing up mosques, planting IEDs, and suicide-bombing marketplaces.

Even Obama's recent ad hoc plan, adopted in the face of inexorable victory in Iraq, still manages to miss the point. In July he said:

Only by redeploying our troops can we press the Iraqis to reach comprehensive political accommodation and achieve a successful transition to Iraqis’ taking responsibility for the security and stability of their country.

Obama confuses causes with effects. The current transitioning, and the political progress that can’t be denied--(though it can be seriously minimized in the media--ITEM “Iraqi parliament approves provincial elections law” buried in Saturday’s Free Press), is not the result of America redeploying (withdrawing) troops. It's the direct result of Petraeus's surge strategy, and eliminating all doubt that American forces were staying to finish the fight with AQI and the Shia insurgents. A fight that they have, now, nearly finished.

Why is that so hard for Democrats to understand?

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