Those determined to deny any progress in Iraq are also unmoved by reports from active duty milbloggers in the region. After all, they are part of the military. Exceptions are made, however, for soldiers who oppose the war. They are always to be believed -- even if they aren’t real soldiers or if their claims defy credulity.
There are some on the left, however, who have admitted that violence appears to be reduced in Iraq. One caller to a talk radio show recently explained that violence is down in Iraq, but that it is only because there is no one left to kill.
As more news of progress in Iraq comes from sources such as U.S. network news and newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post, it will become harder to deny the truth on the ground. Those on the left that have been convinced violence is down in Iraq have plenty of other reasons to pretend it doesn’t matter though, which brings me to another way those on the left are denying success in Iraq.
2. Okay, admittedly things really have changed, but lower casualty rates and reduced violence mean nothing if there is no political progress. Never mind that casualty rates have been the most often cited measure of how bad things were going in Iraq by those on the left. Many of those opposed to the war in Iraq commemorated (in some instances just falling short of celebrating) every casualty milestone. It sometimes seemed as if any casualty figure that ended in a zero was cause for special recognition. Casualty figures for terrorists killed in Iraq were not deemed as significant, however. If we lost ten soldiers in a battle in which we killed or captured dozens of terrorists and recovered significant intelligence related to upcoming planned terrorist activities, you were certainly sure to hear those on the left cite the number of soldiers lost, but were less likely to hear about any gains made as a result of their sacrifice.
Even many of those now accepting reduced casualty rates as evidence of progress (as they had similarly seen increases in casualty rates as evidence of failure) say the progress on the ground means nothing if there is no political progress. By political progress you are not allowed to count the grassroots (for lack of a better word) uprising against al Qaeda members by local political entities. Since the political progress in Iraq has come from the bottom up, rather than from the top down, it is said not to count. At least it doesn’t count to those determined to insist the mission in Iraq is a failure.
If progress in Iraq continues through the 2008 election season, don’t be surprised to hear reasons such as those cited above to explain why Democrats’ desire to withdraw from Iraq when it looked like we were experiencing some success should not be held against them. Unfortunately for them, some of their Republican challengers will remind voters, as John McCain did in a debate this week, that Democrats have no credibility on this issue. McCain told debate viewers, “If we had done what the Democrats said to do six months ago, al Qaeda would be telling the world they beat America…Let us win. Let us win.”