What if we win in Iraq? If the thought makes you break out in a cold sweat, you
could be a Democratic candidate for president.
Democratic leaders in Congress have cut and run from the "slow bleed" strategy (to
hamstring the war effort in Iraq through restrictive amendments on the defense
appropriations bill) outlined by Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Johnstown, that I described
But sabotaging the war effort is still foremost on the Democratic agenda. Sen.
"Slow Joe" Biden of Delaware wants to repeal the 2002 authorization to go to war in
Iraq (for which Sen. Biden had voted).
Democrats have invested so much political capital in an American defeat that their
electoral prospects in 2008 could be devastated if we win.
And win we very well may. The troop surge the Democrats are trying to stop already
has produced a sharp decline in the number of bullet-riddled bodies found in the
streets of Baghdad, the AP reported Tuesday.
"Since the crackdown was formally launched Feb. 14, a total of 164 bodies have been
found in the capital as of Monday, according to AP figures. The AP count showed
that 390 bodies were discovered in the same period in January," the AP said.
"I spoke to my father in Baghdad, and he said the street is very impressed by the
operation and receiving much cooperation from the people," said Haider Ajina, an
Iraqi-American Web logger who is Shia.
"The best part remains the return of displaced families to their homes," wrote the
Iraqi Web logger Mohammed Fadhil, a Sunni. "More than 600 families have returned so
I'm flabbergasted that it took the president until last December to realize that
protecting the Iraqi population is the key to success.
Recognition of the obvious has come awfully late. But not too late, thinks Donald
Stoker, who teaches strategy at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey,
Most insurgencies fail, and the insurgents in Iraq lack the ingredients of the few
successful insurgencies of the 20th Century, Prof. Stoker said.
Nearly 3,400 service members have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each of
these deaths is a tragedy. But our combat deaths have been fewer than the number of
troops lost during the Clinton administration. (During the Clinton years, an
average of 939 personnel died each year, mostly in accidents. Since 2003, an
average of 800 troops have died each year in Iraq.)
The Bush administration's mistakes doubtless have prolonged the war. But our
perception of failure may be more the product of ignorance and impatience than of
the realities on the ground. Typically, it takes 8-11 years to defeat an
insurgency, Prof. Stoker said. We've been in Iraq for less than four.
And the passage of time is required for the adjustments in attitude which seem to be
taking place among Iraqis. Sunnis had to be disabused of the notion they could
continue to lord it over the majority Shia and the Kurds. And Sunnis had to
experience the ugliness of al Qaida rule in Fallujah and Tal Afar before public
opinion among them turned decisively against the terror group.
There've been major political gains in recent months. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al
Maliki no longer is using linguini for a spine. The Iraqi parliament has agreed on
an oil revenue sharing plan. The discovery of major oil deposits in Anbar should
spur Sunni desires for peace.
Democrats clamored for a U.S. defeat during the Civil War. The Copperheads were
ascendant until Sherman captured Atlanta two months before the 1864 elections. But
Republicans creamed them when voters thought victory was nigh. President Bush may
have his Atlanta before the primaries begin.
If the war is going badly in the fall of 2008, Republicans are toast. So why would
Democrats embrace now the one political posture that could bite them in the tuchus?
We got a clue Tuesday. A suicide bomber attacked Bagram Air Force Base in
Afghanistan. Taliban spokesmen said their target was Vice President Dick Cheney,
who was visiting the base. Many posters at popular left wing Web sites expressed
regret that Mr. Cheney had not been harmed.
Most Democrats share the revulsion of other Americans at the attempt to assassinate
the vice president. But the unhinged may dominate in early primaries and caucuses,
which typically draw less than 30 percent of registered voters, so Democrats are
pandering to them. But the candidate who appeals most to moonbats in the spring
may be radioactive in the fall. Ask Ned Lamont.