Reid's Declaration of Defeat

Reid's Declaration of Defeat:

By now, everyone knows that Harry Reid declared today that the Iraq war "is lost." The Surge, he says, is not working, as evidenced by the massive car bombings of this week.

Tigerhawk asks what possible purpose is served by such a statement. I will answer that Reid probably believes it to be true, and that speaking the truth is a good in and of itself. It happens that he is wrong, but I don't doubt that he believes he is doing something good.

The Surge is actually not yet in place -- only sixty percent of its forces are deployed -- and generals have warned that car bombings will be the last thing they can address, due to the location of car bomb factories in the suburbs outside Baghdad. The battle for these Baghdad belts is the last part of the Surge plan.

It is fair, then, to say that Harry Reid is premature in declaring the Surge a failure based on this evidence. (To say nothing of the war as a whole -- particularly in Anbar province, there has been marked progress in bringing once-hostile tribes alongside of Coalition forces.) It is also clear that the US military has made every effort to ensure that Congress understands this plan, and would have reached out to Reid's office had he contacted them to ask for comment before declaring their efforts a failure.

Why Reid has not understood the plan is not clear. Almost any speculation on the question leads you to say something ungenerous about the Senate Majority Leader, so let's not engage in speculation. It's not my point here to bait other Americans into a fight, but rather to sort out what the correct view of the situation is.

Still, it is fair to say that -- by citing the evidence he chose at this point in the plan's execution -- he has demonstrated that he doesn't understand what the military is trying to accomplish.

I hope someone will gently point that out to him, in terms he can take to heart. It ought to be alarming to him. Hopefully, he will have the grace to apologize for this comment, and work more closely with the military in understanding the American mission in Iraq.

Another thing that ought to be alarming is realizing that he has not only failed to understand what our military is attempting, he has also not paused to wonder what the enemy hopes to accomplish.

Some might claim the March 24 attacks were timed so the news would coincide with that of the House vote on the Iraq Withdrawal Bill. Some might notice that this week's attacks coincide with the return of congress from Spring Break, with the Iraq Bill once again foremost on the agenda.
The attacks are clearly timed to affect the US political landscape. The US military has made clear that car bombs will continue to be a factor until the Baghdad belts can be addressed, which will only be the case later during the Surge.

A clear-eyed political view would recognize those facts, and comment accordingly. One should consider the messages the enemy is trying to make you believe -- and also the messages you may be sending back.

UPDATE: By the way, does anyone know what argument Reid was trying to forward here?
I believe the war at this stage can only be won diplomatically, politically and economically.
Those remarks followed the "war is lost" bit, and confuse the message terribly. Is Reid attempting to suggest that the war can be won "diplomatically, politically and economically" without a military/security component? If he is, he ought to make clear why he believes that is the case.

If he is merely arguing that those elements will be the decisive ones in bringing about a stable Iraq, he is in simple agreement with the various generals running the war. Given that he is arguing for troop withdrawals against the Surge, however, he appears not to be making that argument.

Would Reid please be clear exactly what he is trying to say? Is the war lost, or can it still be won? Are the troops counterproductive? If the war can be won, but only if we first withdraw our troops, what exactly is his diplomatic/political/economic plan for establishing security in the face of terrorists without Coalition security forces?

If he has such an argument to make, it would be well to make it now, so that we can consider it before Congress votes on funding the troops or not. I'd like to hear his thoughts laid out plainly and clearly.

No comments: