If you thought Bill Clinton’s recent convoluted claim that he was against the war in Iraq from the beginning was hard to swallow, just imagine some of the verbal gymnastics we are likely to witness over the next year if progress continues in Iraq.
The Democrats running for President are now trying to appeal to their anti-war left base primary voters, and most congressional Democrats are still using the same old “Iraq is a hopeless failure” lines, but if the mission in Iraq is seen as anything close to a success next year the time between the primary and the general election will be spent by many Democrat candidates trying to find a way to get on the right side of the issue. Other Democrats will continue to do as some now are doing – denying the progress that has been made in the region and calling what is happening there anything but success.
Already many on the liberal blogs have begun to explain why the reduction in violence in Iraq is not good news and how any purported successes there are only an illusion. Here are just a couple of the justifications being given for sticking to the “Iraq is an irredeemable failure” storyline.
1. Things have not really improved in Iraq – the administration is lying. It is a given for many on the left that those in the military are lying anytime they issue a statement. It is also not so much of a stretch for those on the left to believe independent embedded reporters like Michael Yon and Bill Roggio and others are lying. After all, they are all (presumably) on the right and many of them are former members of the military, right? So when Michael Totten recently reported of Fallujah that, “The Marines may not have yet won the war in this city, but it sure is starting to look like it. The insurgency in Fallujah is over” he was not believed by many of those determined to deny progress in Iraq. The quotes he reported from those on the ground and the incredible pictures he posted from the region could never be enough to convince those determined not to be convinced.
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.”
Asymmetrical Politics: Republicans Act Like an Unruly Mob, Democrats Like a Regimented Army | Michael Barone