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I almost always agree with Mark Steyn and Victor Davis Hanson, even when they disagree. Both of them know a lot more about on-the-ground politics than I, so when Mark says that the war isn’t, and isn’t likely to be, the big issue in this campaign, I’m sure he’s right. Except that we are at war, and in that war our enemies are doing badly in Iraq and they are going to push for some big victory as soon as they can, and so it will be hard for the voters to be shielded from this reality. Anyway we’ll see. Or not. The cool thing about politics is that the tea leaves get analyzed for years to come…

On the surge, Victor is right, and he’s doubly right. Those calling for more troops a couple of years before it finally happened wanted an occupation force rather than a counterinsurgency force. And it may well be that the most important element in ‘the surge’ (I’ve said this before, indulge me please) is the use to which our troops were put, rather than the absolute numbers. For an incredibly long time an incredible number of American fighters sat on bases, drank designer coffee, and pretended to train iraqis. It didn’t work, and the Marines figured it out, kicked their guys off-base, and made them fight alongside their iraqi counterparts, street by street and house by house. The Anbar Awakening owes a lot to al Qaeda’s barbarisms, and also a lot to the sight of U.S. Marines standing shoulder to shoulder with Iraqis and killing the terrorists. That’s when the Iraqis figured out we weren’t leaving and couldn’t be defeated, and that’s when they threw their support to us.


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