Democrats promote Bush’s troop surge

Reviled by most Democrats, President Bush’s 20,000-troop surge is working. Indeed, news of this policy’s success is emerging from an unlikely source: Democrats.

Despite other misgivings on Iraq, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., admitted to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Monday: “We’ve begun to change tactics in Iraq and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar province, it’s working.”

“The surge has resulted in a reduction of violence in many parts of Iraq,” Senate Democratic whip Dick Durbin of Illinois told journalists. “More American troops have brought more peace to more parts of Iraq.”

“The military aspects of President Bush’s new strategy in Iraq … appear to have produced some credible and positive results,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said in a joint statement after visiting Iraq with his committee’s second-ranking Republican, Virginia’s John Warner.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., told PBS’ Charlie Rose: “My sense is that the tactical momentum is there with the troops, and we’ve had some success in terms of blocking insurgents moving into Baghdad.”

“The troops have met every assignment,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. “They’ve beaten the odds time and again. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to.”

War foe Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., recently returned from there a changed man. “We are making real and tangible progress on the ground, for one, and if we withdraw, it could have a potentially catastrophic effect on the region,” he told The Olympian newspaper. Baird now opposes troop-retreat timetables.

After visiting Iraq last month, Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., favors more operational flexibility for U.S. commanders. “I’m more willing to work to find a way forward to accommodate what the generals are saying,” he said.

Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Fla., believes the surge “has really made a difference and really has gotten al Qaeda on their heels.”

After eight days in Iraq, Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack of the left-leaning Brookings Institution wrote in a July 30 newspaper column:

“There is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.”

These improvements include a halving of “truck bombs and other large al Qaeda-style attacks” since the surge began in February, USA Today’s Jim Michaels reported on Aug. 13. Early August saw 74 security incidents in Anbar, down from 450-500 weekly last fall. In Ramadi, such episodes have plummeted from 120-180 weekly last summer to three the week of Aug. 6.

Pentagon officials say Iraqis are volunteering 23,000 monthly tips, quadruple August 2006’s figure.

Many of these Democrats correctly argue that the surge showcases how much American GIs have accomplished and highlights how little Iraqi politicians have achieved, especially while vacationing as their new republic endures existential challenges. As their odds of being detonated diminish, Iraqis may return to parliament tanned, rested and ready to enact an oil law, for starters.

While U.S. troops are making Iraqis more secure, al Qaeda keeps bludgeoning Iraqi hearts and minds. In Anbar, for example, predominantly foreign Islamic extremists behaved like a Taliban on the Euphrates. Last October, they declared Ramadi, Anbar’s chief city, the capital of a new Islamic state.

Iraqis there and in Diyala province soured on al Qaeda’s reforms — among them a new “war tax,” 4 p.m. curfews, kidnapping women for arranged marriages and conscripting forced labor to harvest dates and oranges.

Violators of a new smoking ban had their fingers or hands chopped off.

Al Qaeda in Iraq set one 7-year-old ablaze, sources told CNN, and otherwise murdered women and children.

“If you talk against them, they let you go at first, then come back and behead you later,” explained villager Abu Miriam. If caught being interviewed, Miriam predicted: “I will be killed. In fact, slaughtered, slaughtered with a knife.”

While al Qaeda in Iraq offers civilians such seventh-century hospitality, America recently spent $6 million to repair the water grid in Baghdad’s impoverished Sadr City. The “U.S out of Iraq” crowd should acknowledge the fundamental contrast between what we provide Iraqis and what our enemies offer them. Critics should heed Democrats who admit that, for all its faults, Bush’s surge advances the forces of running water and hobbles those who burn 7-year-olds alive.

(New York commentator 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. Electric Bill

    Seal, I don’t know why people like you with real military experience and insights aren’t given a broader voice in our government while chicken hawk neo-cons get to run the show. I can’t help but imagine you would be much more deliberate in sending young Americans into combat than somebody who just plays a tough guy on television. You are also exactly right about opening CHB to opposing opinions. That’s how we learn to debate issues. If we read things that reinforce our own opinions all the time we really don’t learn anything new.

  2. SEAL

    Geyser, I can tell you what those that are in Iraq or have returned recently tell me. I still have “buddys” in the service.

    We have no real problem clearing out or securing any area we commit the right personnel to. We have far superior firepower and our soldier is worth 20 of them. We really are the best at what we do. But this is guerilla warfare and the enemy doesn’t stand and fight unless cornered. When we come in, they just go someplace where we aren’t and do what it is that they do there. There is no victory > no progress.

    After clearing out and securing an area, if we turn over the control and security to the Iraqi army, it goes right back to the insurgents or al Qaeda in a short period of time. Primarily because the soldiers of the Iraqi army abuse their power for personal gain or vendetta or simple predjudice. The residents see no diffierence between the Iraqi government forces and the insurgents. One is just as bad, or in most cases worse, than the other. The insurgent areas are almost always sunni and the Iraqi army is primarily shiite, so what do you think will happen?

    However, they do see a great deal of difference between al Qaeda and anything else. They have a great fear of them. With these people their religion or ethnic identity comes before anything. Al Qaeda forces their religion upon everyone they can and will murder or main all who resist. That is one of the things Bushco has used to inspire the need to fight thse “terrorists.” There is some truth to it. However, the terrorists foster that image to keep the war on terror ball rolling. It’s a cooperative need.

    The only time the residents feel basically safe is during the presence of US occupation. While they are angry about our pressence there they have no fear of us and quite a few actually like our guys after they are forced to be in close contact with us for a while. They will bring us information but only when that is in their own best interests.

    The conditions are so miserable for everyone [including us] due to the lack of electricity and potable water and bad food that it grates on everyones nerves. But the real problem is that there is no end in sight. Almost 5 years and no Iraq government – no Iraqi nation. That represents a hopelessness. Life is only surviving one day at a time. Consequently, many of the sunnis clans have gone back to a modern version of the ancient ways of tribal law and sheik rule for security. They have to do something to give themselves hope.

    Our average soldier sees no progress. Being americans, they are always hopefull and have faith in our nation. They will continue to do their job. But they are tired, stressed out, and prone to lapses that can get you killed. They would welcome the orders to pack it up and move out to the ships or planes going home with nary a look back.

    Most of our “boots on the ground” have the attitude that the Iraqi people are not worth the effort and/or what it has cost them/us. Especially their friends who have died and been maimed for life there. They have no respect for a culture of people that places no value upon human life. People who kill their own daughters to save religious face.

    They understand better than anyone that they are not fighting a war against an enemy force. They are fighting the Iraqi people. All of the Iraqi people. Adding insult to injury are the al Qaeda terrorists that are maliciously killing anyone anywhere indiscriminately just to keep the anger high on all sides and fuel the multiple conflicts.

    There is no “front” and there is no “war on terror.” They are only an occupying force that is unwelcome but feel they are necessary considering the alternative. They feel like they are in a catch 22.

    The above is my summation, not their words. One thing I saw in their eyes and heard in their voices is that they are very, very tired.

  3. Helen Rainier

    Electric Bill,

    I agree with you that the people with the real military experience should be given a broader voice, but let’s face it, Bush has NEVER listened to the military leaders — remember General Eric Shinsheki? He’s not the only one who spoke out honestly — so did Batiste and Eaton and they both ended up retiring and are NOW speaking out actively and loudly. So are former UN weapons inspectors and former CIA intelligence analysts/agents. Many of these people have been speaking out from the very beginning to no avail.

    But, Bush has his mind made up and geared to only one thing — doing what he wants to do and screw everyone else.

    Yes, a person who is truly a leader would listen to the experts — but we are talking about Bush here and Bush is not truly a leader.

    I still have my Army Field Manual (FM) 22-100, Military Leadership (October 1983) and trust me, Bush has none of the attributes of a good and effective leader.

    Frankly, I wouldn’t trust him to lead anyone out of an outdoor latrine. He would find a way to SCREW that up.