Friday, August 01, 2008

The Dark is Rising

Some grandiose pop music from Mercury Rev.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

McCain Supporters….in SF?

ZombieTime has a new post up about the protests related to McCain’s San Francisco visit, and was surprised to find that of the 250 people present, half were pro-McCain counter protesters.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Winning the War in Iraq

(UPDATE: Welcome Harry's Place readers!)
What a difference a year makes. Back in April of 2008, Harry Reid claimed:
“The war in Iraq "is lost" and a US troop surge is failing to bring peace to the country, the leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, said Thursday.

"I believe ... that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week," Reid told journalists.”

He wasn’t the only one saying the war was lost however. It became a common meme amongst the anti-war crowd. So I wonder what they think of this piece from the AP?
Analysis: US now winning Iraq war that seemed lost

The United States is now winning the war that two years ago seemed lost. Limited, sometimes sharp fighting and periodic terrorist bombings in Iraq are likely to continue, possibly for years. But the Iraqi government and the U.S. now are able to shift focus from mainly combat to mainly building the fragile beginnings of peace — a transition that many found almost unthinkable as recently as one year ago.

Despite the occasional bursts of violence, Iraq has reached the point where the insurgents, who once controlled whole cities, no longer have the clout to threaten the viability of the central government.”

George Packer writes for the New Yorker:
“At the start of 2007, no one in Baghdad would have predicted that blood-soaked neighborhoods would begin returning to life within a year. The improved conditions can be attributed, in increasing order of importance, to President Bush’s surge, the change in military strategy under General David Petraeus, the turning of Sunni tribes against Al Qaeda, the Sadr militia’s unilateral ceasefire, and the great historical luck that brought them all together at the same moment. With the level of violence down, the Iraqi government and Army have begun to show signs of functioning in less sectarian ways."

As John McCain points out in his rejected New York Times piece, Iraqi political reconciliation is moving along, and has met all but 3 of the 18 benchmarks set for it. McCain states:
“In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military’s readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.”

Will any of this change Barak Obama’s insistence that “the Surge” has done nothing of substance? This USA Today editorial asks that very question.
“Why then can't Obama bring himself to acknowledge the surge worked better than he and other skeptics, including this page, thought it would? What does that stubbornness say about the kind of president he'd be?

In recent comments, the Democratic presidential candidate has grudgingly conceded that the troops helped lessen the violence, but he has insisted that the surge was a dubious policy because it allowed the situation in Afghanistan to deteriorate and failed to produce political breakthroughs in Iraq. Even knowing the outcome, he told CBS News Tuesday, he still wouldn't have supported the idea.

That's hard to fathom...The great irony, of course, is that the success of the surge has made Obama's plan to withdraw combat troops in 16 months far more plausible than when he proposed it. Another irony is that while Obama downplays the effectiveness of the surge in Iraq, he is urging a similar tactic now in Afghanistan.”

Obama continues to insist that the Republicans want an endless presence in Iraq however, willfully avoiding any comments and facts that contradict this point. Bill Harrison writes for NeoConstant:
“Contrary to the received wisdom of the braying jackasses in the press who likened the president’s acceptance of a “time horizon” to some kind of volte face on Iraq the president has always been of the position that our troop levels there will be contingent on both the level of security and the Iraq’s ability to “stand up as we stand down”:

“The principal task of our military is to find and defeat the terrorists,” he said. “And that is why we are on the offense. And as we pursue the terrorists, our military is helping to train Iraqi security forces so that they can defend their people and fight the enemy on their own. Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.”