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Judgment Under Fire
Top Dems should apologize for being so wrong for so long on the surge.


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Deroy Murdock

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 of judgment regarding the wisdom and effectiveness of 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 then and Iraq’s far sunnier outlook now. 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 January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse.”

Not so.

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Thanks to brave U.S. GIs and valiant Iraqi soldiers, cops, and volunteers, Iraq is increasingly tranquil. According to the September-October issue of Foreign Affairs, “Overall violence is down at least 80 percent since the surge began, and ethno-sectarian violence — the kind that seemed to be sucking Iraq into all-out civil war in 2006 — is down by over 90 percent.” 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 in late July.

“As we have surged into neighborhoods — to protect the Iraqi people, earning their trust, and benefiting from their help — violence has dropped, and locals have turned against the jihadists,” wrote Army National Guard captain and Vets for Freedom chairman Pete Hegseth last week after returning to Samarra, where he served from December 2005 – July 2006.

“The economy on the street is booming,” a Baghdad-based American businessman told me. “The Iraqi people are going about their business, and business is thriving. It is so, more and more. I see it in places I could not go even six months ago.”

“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 February 16, 2007. The Massachusetts senator continued: “It won’t end the violence; it won’t provide security. . . . It won’t turn back the clock and avoid the civil war that is already underway; 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 on August 5. Radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr decided to disarm his battered force. He is rumored to be in Iran, studying Islam.

As for terrorists, the surge and Sunni disgust with the barbaric Islamo-fascism of al-Qaeda in Iraq 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 is not succeeding,” Delaware senator and presumptive Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joseph Biden told journalists on April 26, 2007. “It’s like squeezing a water balloon. You squeeze it in one place, it bulges somewhere else.”



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