Democrats blew it on the surge

As top Democrats address their national convention in Denver, they will propose "ending" Operation Iraqi Freedom, demand a speedy withdrawal of U.S. forces there, and insist that "Bush lied, and people died."

What they will not do is apologize for their nearly universal failure in judgment regarding President Bush’s spring 2007 Surge of 20,000 troops into Iraq. Widespread Democratic defeatism and lack of faith in our GIs’ ability to win gouged a gap between their forecasts of doom yesterday and Iraq’s far sunnier outlook today. With few exceptions, Democrats got this one dead wrong.

"I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is (sic) going to solve the sectarian violence there," Sen. Barack Obama, D -Ill., said on Jan. 10, 2007. "In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Not so.

Thanks to the bravery of U.S. GIs and valiant Iraqi soldiers, Iraq is increasingly tranquil. Sectarian killing essentially has ended, and bloodshed has plunged. American fatalities have plummeted from 66 in July 2007 to five last month.

"By and large, what’s left of the insurgency is just trying to hang on," U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker told the Associated Press July 24.

"The simple fact is that sending in over 20,000 additional troops isn’t the answer. In fact, it’s a tragic mistake," 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry said on Feb. 16, 2007. The Massachusetts senator continued: "It won’t deter terrorists, who have a completely different agenda; it won’t rein in the militias."

The simple fact is that the surge has helped turn the Mahdi Army, Iraq’s biggest militia, into a charity. "The group will focus on education, religion, and social justice," the Wall Street Journal’s Gina Chon explained August 5. Radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr decided to disarm his battered force. He is rumored to be studying Islam in Iran.

As for terrorists, the surge and Sunni disgust with al-Qaeda in Iraq’s Islamo-fascism almost have squeezed AQI to death. Last month alone, two high-value AQI-affiliated emirs and an associate surrendered to Iraqi and Coalition forces.

"The surge was designed to give the Iraqi government time to take steps to ensure a political solution," Sen. Hillary Clinton said Aug. 22, 2007. "It has failed."

Congressional Democrats like Clinton often attack Iraq’s parliament as foot draggers who specifically failed to implement a petroleum reform law. This is mighty rich for Democrats who managed not to pass even one appropriations bill this year, yet jetted off for a five-week vacation rather than consider GOP ideas for increasing oil and energy production.

The Iraqi parliament in 2008 adopted a budget, a pension law, and amnesty for some prisoners. It scheduled provincial elections for October and is weighing plans for an expected $50 billion budget surplus, largely from an ever-more productive petroleum sector.

According to the Brookings Institution’s comprehensive "Iraq Index," attacks on Iraqi oil pipelines fell from 19 in May 2007 to one last March. This has helped oil production swell to 2.54 million barrels per day, surpassing peak pre-war production of 2.5 million barrels daily.

On April 19, 2007, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada flatly declared that "this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything…"

"The United States is now winning the war that two years ago seemed lost," the AP’s Robert Burns and Robert Reid reported on July 26. "In Baghdad, parks are filled every weekend with families playing and picnicking with their children. That was unthinkable only a year ago…"

While key Democrats blew it, starting with their standard bearer, the GOP nominee got it right.

"We must have more troops over there," Sen.John McCain told Fox News on Dec. 12, 2006. "And we have to have a big enough surge that we can get Baghdad under control and then Anbar province under control."

McCain embraced the Surge concept, encouraged President Bush to implement it, and energized Republicans on Capitol Hill and across America to support it. He trusted U.S. service personnel to stabilize Iraq. And they delivered — big time.

On the Nation’s most urgent issue, John McCain and the GOP scored a bull’s eye, while Barack Obama and the Democrats’ arrow missed the target and crashed in the dust.


(Deroy Murdock is a columnist and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.Murdock(at)


  1. neondesert

    Yeah, TheSurge™ is what did the trick.

    Never mind the prospect of the troops withdrawing (which, apparently, will now transpire just as Obama proposed). Ignore the bribery of the Sunnis. Please disregard the Iraqi antipathy at the domineering of AQI. Pay no attention to the increase in provincial security forces.

    Yep, McCain scored a bull’s eye when he recognized that TheSurge™ was so effective that it was the cause of all these prior events. And Obama must have been aiming at a completely different target when he proposed beginning withdrawing the troops in 16 months.

  2. churlpat

    What part of the success of the “surge” was military effectiveness and what part was due to our sending literally truckloads of $100 bills into Iraq to buy the neutrality of many of the people who had formerly been attacking coalition troops and each other?

    And, if spending money to “buy” loyalty or at least inaction was a part of the “solution”, what is going to happen when we stop spending all that money?

    Churlpat — a plutarch by any name is still a plutarch

  3. lehrrb

    Unfortunately, this is the way they think at the Hoover Institute. Everybody else knows it was the millions of dollars the Bush administration paid all the sheiks to bribe them to lay off the attacks. They were awash in bribe-money and it worked!– it saved a lot of lives!! Those that think “the surge” did it are not following the money. Bruce

  4. CheckerboardStrangler

    The surge worked primarily because of Anthony Petraeus, who had a sufficiently large enough “sack” to stand up to the neocon community and the Bush administration and tell them that their ill-planned war was a failure and would continue to be one until it was planned and waged properly, with a decidedly military objective instead of a financial one.
    That objective was not victory, but the winning of hearts and minds, something that the Bush administration never grasped but is now eager to take credit for.

    While Bushco demonstrated their love affair for Provisional Authority Embezzler-in-Chief Paul Bremer and filled Iraqi transitional government offices with starry-eyed evangelists from religious universities eager to turn Iraq Christian, Petraeus was bending over backwards to include as many ground level stakeholders in the success of Iraq as he could, even if it meant negotiating with many of the very insurgent armies who had shot at his forces in the past.

    While enormous pallets of money went missing in Baghdad and Halliburton was getting five bucks for every bottle of water they sent to the troops, Petraeus was gunning down red tape and getting body armor and munitions to the troops who needed it, be they US forces or Iraqi Army.

    And while Bushco White House aides were crowing about how “we’re an empire now, and when we act we create our own reality”, Petraeus was calmly refusing to cowtow to fake realities, preferring instead to deal with “reality based communities” and facts on the ground.

    In fact SO EAGER are Bush administration officials to take credit for Petraeus’ efforts, they actually stated in August of last year that a September report on the war’s progress would “be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government”.

    So it comes as a surprise when Petraeus revealed in testimony before Congress that “I wrote this testimony myself.” He went on further to elaborate that his testimony to Congress “has not been cleared by, nor shared with, anyone in the Pentagon, the White House, or Congress.”

    He HAD to write it himself in order to prevent another “heckuva job” being done by some of the same simpletons that got us to a hasty proclamation of victory in 2003 only to find us at the bottom of a very insanely clever trap. It was only when the Bush administration finally cleared the way for Petraeus to do what had always needed to be done that we started to make ANY progress.

    Isn’t it a pity that we wasted FOUR YEARS waiting for George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld to admit that “going to war with the army you have” and “mission accomplished” were huge mistakes?

    These were the mistakes being referred to by Democrats during the four years that Deroy “Rupert’s Boy” Murdock is gamely trying to gloss over.

    Indeed if Obama wins the election I would not be surprised if he asked Petraeus to stay on, as one of the only positive remnants of Bush’s tenure in the WOT.

    Petraeus the Realist would fit nicely in a reality based community and it is obvious that he is chafing now in the Empire of Fake Realities created by this two term disaster that he has saved from certain and total defeat.

    Bush, and all his many cheerleaders, should be on their knees thanking General Petraeus and hoping that the good soldier doesn’t decide to write an extended memoir of his dealings with the Sith of 21st Century America.

    But they shouldn’t hold their breath…
    I imagine such a book will be as refreshingly candid and will no doubt ignore any such pleadings for leniency the same way the good General’s congressional testimony sidestepped all attempts at whitewashing.

    And an eager public will be lapping up every word, and for once we won’t need to wait for Murdock’s interpretation.

    Jeff H in Occupied TX