December 12, 2005

Fear Of Winning

A couple of important new essays on the war in Iraq have hit the Web in recent days, and I've been remiss in not getting them posted here sooner. They are both reactions to all the "withdrawal" talk lately, coming mostly from the political left, who seem to think it a sound strategy to hurt the President, but who also have been paying enough attention to administration hints over several months that some kind of troop drawdown is in the cards regardless of what Nancy Pelosi says. But for the Democrats, if they call for it and then it happens, they can congratulate themselves on their relevance. In "Fighting To Win", Frederick W. Kagan says the troop numbers may well decline, but it's not because we're quitting, it's because things are going pretty well...

Advocates of withdrawal point to continuing attacks on coalition and Iraqi targets and to the steady, somber flow of U.S. casualties, as well as the increasing fear that our Army will break under the strain of prolonged occupation.

Administration supporters of course share these concerns, and some seem (privately) to share the view that the war may be unwinnable. Even a few inside the administration may have their doubts. In any case, the administration clearly believes that it has to promise a significant reduction of U.S. forces in Iraq--"conditions permitting"--in 2006. Reports are circulating that preparations for troop reductions have already begun.

The irony is that demands for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces do not spring from any particular recent bad news from Iraq (there has been little) or justified alarm about the Army's ability to sustain itself (high levels of retention continue to make up for problems with recruitment). On the contrary, the most recent news from Iraq is promising. American strategy has improved, and prospects for success are better than they have ever been.

The January issue of Commentary has a new Norman Podhoretz essay entitled "The Panic Over Iraq", which suggests that the increasingly desperate attempt by the Democrats to portray Iraq as "a failed policy" is one born less of fear that we will lose, than of a panic that we are winning, and that you-know-who might get some credit. There is of course much, much more here, but I'll excerpt one segment that I referenced today in response to Madeline Albright's ridiculous assertion on Meet The Press the other day that there was "no reconstruction" going on in Iraq.

Mr. [Max] Boot (relying on a Brookings Institution report) tells us that "for all the insurgents' attempts to sabotage the Iraqi economy," per capita income has doubled since 2003 and is now 30% higher than it was before the war; that the Iraqi economy is projected to grow at a whopping 16.8% in 2006; and that there are five times as many cars on the streets than in Saddam Hussein's day, five as many more telephone subscribers, and 32 times as many Internet users.

Finally, Mr. Boot points out that whereas not a single independent media outlet existed in Iraq before 2003, there are now 44 commercial TV stations, 72 radio stations, and more than 100 newspapers.

To all of this we can add the 3,404 public schools, 304 water and sewage projects, 257 fire and police stations, and 149 public-health facilities that had been built as of September 2005, with another 921 such projects currently under construction.

I guess it's easy to miss 5000 different reconstruction projects, Ms. Albright, if you have your blinders firmly in place.

Ms. Albright and the other doomsayers might be interested to read the new ABC News survey of Iraqis, which reports that:

"seven in 10 Iraqis say their own lives are going well, and nearly two-thirds expect things to improve in the year ahead...

...Surprisingly, given the insurgents' attacks on Iraqi civilians, more than six in 10 Iraqis feel very safe in their own neighborhoods, up sharply from just 40 percent in a poll in June 2004. And 61 percent say local security is good — up from 49 percent in the first ABC News poll in Iraq in February 2004...

...There are positive political signs as well. Three-quarters of Iraqis express confidence in the national elections being held this week, 70 percent approve of the new constitution, and 70 percent — including most people in Sunni and Shiite areas alike — want Iraq to remain a unified country.

Posted by dan at December 12, 2005 10:13 PM