VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.
Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.
After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.
Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.
I agree with many, but not all, of the conclusions Ken Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon reach in this NY Times column, but you really can't write a piece about the wae in Iraq and devote only two sentences to the political situation, which is disastrous and, as Petraeus has said, will determine the success or failure of the overall effort.
MORE BAFFLERS: NewsBusters was stunned to hear Chris Matthews and a panel of lib newsies discuss the problems with withdrawal and the benefits of standing and fighting in Iraq.
Maybe the CW has been to declare a US defeat for so long that folks are casting about for a new CW.
STILL MORE: In "The Seven Deadly Sins of Failure in Iraq: A Retrospective Analysis of the Reconstruction" Ken Pollack wrote in Dec 2006 that the war was winnable at the outset but mismanaged in reconstruction.
And file this under "Must Be Easy To Be A Lefty Blogger" - both Greg Sargent and Glenn Greenwald tell their trusitng readers that O'Hanlon and Pollack supported this war. Depends on what one means by "support", I guess - Pollack famously back-pedaled during the run-up, and is not shy about saying so:
...let me start with the necessary disclaimer that while I believed a war would be necessary to depose Saddam, I opposed both the timing and manner of the actual war as the Bush administration pursued it.
That said, if he had back-pedaled by Feb 21, 2003 it is hard to see it in "A Last Chance To Stop Iraq", which appeared in the Times.
As to Mr. O'Hanlon, he seems to have supported the disarmament of Saddam but wanted more troops for post-liberation reconstruction. One might say his judgment on what it would take to win this war was untested; his judgment to support Bush and Rumsfeld was flawed.