Did you know the surge in Iraq just reached full strength? If not, you’re not alone. Congressional leadership declared it a failure four months ago. On April 19, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything.” He added he felt no remorse for calling the troops losers while they continued to fight for victory. “[M]y conscience is great,” he said (which speaks volumes about his conscience). On June 13, the other side of the Capitol chimed in. Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (my hands tremble at the very words) co-signed a letter to President Bush, stating, “As many had foreseen, the escalation has failed to produce the intended results.”
The trouble with these damning declamations of defeat is that the surge had not yet reached full strength. We know Congressional Democrats say they oppose preemptive war, but apparently they endorse preemptive surrender.
Shortly after being seated in January, the new Democratic Congress voted, without dissent, to approve Lt. General David H. Petraeus as general in charge of Iraq. In his testimony, Petraeus specified he would preside over a new military option: a “surge” of 21,500 new troops to Iraq. Soldiers would begin deploying in the winter, but the full 21,500 would not arrive until June 15.
In June, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver acknowledged, “Everyone is here on the ground now, but obviously the troops that have just got here are going to take some time to integrate into their battle space and get to know their counterparts.” He estimated that process would take 30-60 days, meaning the surge would not be at full strength until…now.
So, Happy Surge Day!
From this day forward, we can begin judging the success or failure of the surge. And so far, the progress is stunning. Major attacks, such as truck bombs, have fallen by 50 percent since the beginning of the surge. Major General William Caldwell reported in first month of the surge, “there has been an over 50 percent reduction in murders and executions,” and the number of civilian deaths declined from 1,440 to 265. This time frame witnessed a dramatic reduction of Shi’ite death squads, the arrest of 700 Sadr-aligned guerrilla leaders, and the detention of more than a thousand more. As the strategy progressed, Sunnis began actively turning against and fighting al-Qaeda cells in their territories. General David Petraeus recounted the military had killed or apprehended hundreds of al-Qaeda leaders in July alone. Two harsh critics of the war noted by August, “the Sunni sheiks there are close to crippling al-Qaeda and its Salafist allies.” In an area that once harbored these cells, this is no small turn of events. As of two weeks ago, some 25,000 Sunnis had aligned themselves against al-Qaeda, most since the surge began. One commander called this “a tectonic shift.”
It could not have come at a better time, or against a more potent enemy. As even the New York Times has had to acknowledge, the number one threat facing American soldiers is not the Mahdi Army (which has been remarkably quiet since January), nor sectarian violence (which the Left continually dubs “a civil war”); it is al-Qaeda in Iraq. Moreover, the Times quoted an intelligence report that AQI considers “the sectarian war for Baghdad as the necessary main focus of its operations.” More evidence surfaced last month in a story the mainstream media shrugged off: a senior al-Qaeda in Iraq operative confessed he acts as a conduit between al-Qaeda in Iraq and terrorist leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Gen. Petraeus had testified the Afghanistan-based leadership remains in contact with AQI, directing its movements. (Of course, the infamous intercepted letter from al-Qaeda #2 Ayman al-Zawahiri to deceased AQI leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi confirmed this in October of 2005.) Last month’s confession was but one of several proofs that we were fighting the same organization in Iraq that attacked us on 9/11.
…Well, some of us are.
The Pelosi-Reid letter advocated a “phased redeployment of our troops from Iraq so that Iraqis could take responsibility for their own security.” However, it acknowledged “after years of effort,” Iraqi forces remained “uneven in their quality and reliability.” Withdrawal would mean an ill-equipped, insufficiently trained army, with an unreliable political leadership, would face a well-financed international terrorist cadre rushing in to fill the failed state we left behind. Not that Barack Obama cares about any of this.
Gen. Petraeus is to report on the surge’s progress in mid-September. This gives the troops approximately six weeks to do their job. Reid, Pelosi, et. al, were willing to give UN inspectors an infinite amount of time to “do their job,” which they apparently believed was to comb every grain of sand in Iraq for traces of WMDs. However, they have given our soldiers only a month, and they already dubbed that effort a failure, setting up an inevitable funding showdown on Capitol Hill. (One antiwar Congressman has referred to this as “D-Day,” an odd metaphor, since on D-Day Americans were rushing into a battle.) If Reid has his way, this will mean unilateral withdrawal within months, handing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi a delightful memorial.
Harry Reid declared this war – a war at the central front of the War on Terror – lost four months ago. Unless the citizens of the United States are willing to give, that may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.