June 1, 2008

Center-Left Media Budges

Ed at Hot Air has comments on the Washinton Post editorial acknowledging the media's reticence to report on the recent good news from Iraq. "The defeatists have been exposed", says Ed.

All of this comes as good news for Iraqis, good news for the US, and good news for the region — but as unwelcome news to the American media and the Democrats. They have predicted nothing but defeat and chaos for so long that they cannot find any way to pivot to embrace the success of the venture. Both predicated their forward strategies on that defeat and now flounder to adapt to Nouri al-Maliki’s sudden emergence as a unifying figure of strength in Iraq.

In order to do so, they would have to answer for the defeatism of Harry Reid, who declared the war lost a year ago on the floor of the Senate. They would have to answer for their antagonistic reception for General David Petraeus in September 2007, when he warned Congress that the new strategies had begun to succeed and the Iraqi Army was close to self-sufficiency. The likely nominee would have to answer for his refusal to meet with Petraeus for an individual, in-depth briefing to find out how much the situation has changed since his only visit to Iraq in January 2006.

Two other major articles by center-left figures in the past week have received deserved praise for their penetrating looks at the changing realities in Iraq and within al Qaeda.

Lawrence Wright's piece at The New Yorker, "The Rebellion Within", and the New Republic feature "The Unraveling", by Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, both speak to a dynamic within Islam trending away from al Qaeda and rejecting its path of violence. Maybe reason for some hope. Pack a lunch for the Wright article.

Peter Wehner reports on the optimistic interview CIA Director Michael Hayden gave to The Washington Post this week, and adds...

It’s worth recalling how widely the pendulum has swung in just the last two years. In 2005 and 2006, Iraq, it was said in many quarters, was lost; we either had to beat a hasty retreat or, as Joe Biden and Les Gelb counseled, we needed to separate Iraq into three largely autonomous regions (Shia, Sunni, and Kurd). For a time the Biden-Gelb plan was the “hot” one among commentators — the “third way” between leaving Iraq precipitously and foolishly attempting to repair a hopelessly broken and divided society. In fact, we are now seeing precisely the reconciliation and progress that many analysts believed was impossible to achieve.

It was also said by many analysts that as a result of the President’s misguided policies, al Qaeda was growing more popular, terrorist recruitment was up, al Qaeda had been handed great gifts by the Bush administration, and that America was less safe than prior to 9/11. The conventional wisdom was that the “Bush legacy” would be that al Qaeda was much stronger and America was much weaker than before the Iraq war.

Today the pendulum is swinging very much the other way. The reality is that things are much better now then they were at the mid-point of this decade. The cautionary tale in all this may be that we need to resist the temptation to take a snapshot in time and assuming that those things will stay as they are. Two years ago there were reasons for deep concern — but there were not reasons, it turns out, for despair or hopelessness. Events are fluid and can be shaped by human action and human will. While commentators were busy writing obituaries on Iraq, Bush, in the face of gale-force political winds, changed strategies –and Petraeus and company took on the hard task of redeeming Iraq.

Abe Greenwald notes a glaring omission in the reported causes of the positive trend in Iraq.

Posted by dan at June 1, 2008 9:22 PM