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Baird: A Reason for Hope in Iraq Washington, D.C. - The invasion of Iraq may be one of the worst foreign-policy mistakes in the history of our nation. As tragic and costly as that mistake has been, a precipitous or premature withdrawal of our forces now has the potential to turn the initial errors into an even greater problem just as success looks possible.
As a Democrat who voted against the war from the outset and who has been frankly critical of the administration and the post-invasion strategy, I am convinced by the evidence that the situation has at long last begun to change substantially for the better. I believe Iraq could have a positive future. Our diplomatic and military leaders in Iraq, their current strategy, and most importantly, our troops and the Iraqi people themselves, deserve our continued support and more time to succeed.
I would note Congressman Baird represents Olympia, Washington..home to these people.
BAGHDAD, Aug. 23 -- An insurgent attack Thursday on a Sunni sheik who has cooperated with U.S. forces escalated into an extended street battle involving the sheik's militiamen, local villagers and Iraqi forces, according to police and the U.S. military. Thirty-two people were killed and 15 kidnapped, police said.Which somehow - according to the WaPo "reporter" - proves that Iraqis are intimidated by al Qaeda.
Residents of a village near Baqubah, 35 miles north of Baghdad, apparently heard the initial commotion and took up their weapons to fight the attackers, who were members of the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, said Lt. Col. Michael Donnelly, a spokesman for the U.S. military units north of Baghdad.
"The villagers came together and started fighting off al-Qaeda in Iraq," Donnelly said. "It's another sign of people not putting up with" the group's violence. Police gave a similar account of the villagers' reaction.
The sheik who was killed Thursday was reported to have been a local leader of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, a Sunni militia that was founded as part of an effort to force a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq but lately has come to consider al-Qaeda in Iraq as its real enemy. Since June, U.S. commanders have announced alliances with the brigades in many parts of the country.
The attack underscores a key difficulty for U.S. forces in maintaining the support of Sunni militias, which generally oppose Iraq's Shiite-led government and whose long-term goals remain unclear. As more Sunni leaders are attacked, American commanders are finding it increasingly difficult to persuade others to join the effort.
Not a fair fight. We know what Murtha did - what about Lt. Gen. Mattis?
Lance Corporal Sharratt gets about the best apology one can get - a letter from Lt. Gen. Mattis, USMC.
Gen. Mattis quoted former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who said that combat is an "incommunicable experience" and that "detached reflection cannot be demanded in the face of an uplifted knife."Mench.
"Marines have a well-earned reputation for remaining cool in the face of enemies brandishing much more than knives," Gen. Mattis said, noting the "brutal reality" of daily life in Iraq.
"Where the enemy disregards any attempt to comply with ethical norms of warfare, we exercise discipline and restraint to protect the innocent caught on the battlefield. Our way is right, but it is also difficult."
Gen. Mattis stated that an exhaustive investigation showed Cpl. Sharratt "acted in accordance with the rules of engagement" in Haditha, and he noted that by dropping the charges, Cpl. Sharratt could "fairly conclude that you did your best to live up to the standards followed by U.S. fighting men throughout our many wars, in the face of life or death decisions made by in a matter of seconds in combat."
Michael Totten offers kudos to journalists:
Hundreds of Iraqi Yezidis, members of an ancient religious sect heavily influenced by Persian Zoroastrianism, were murdered last week in the most deadly terrorist attack in the world since September 11, 2001. Fuel tankers packed with explosives were ignited in a refugee camp near the town of Kahtaniya, just outside the Kurdish autonomous region. Officials say the death toll has surpassed 500. The American military says this is the handiwork of al Qaeda. They’re probably right: this has their fingerprints all over it.Well, it's been a while since anybody has had anything nice to say about journalists.
American commander General David Petraeus recently warned that terrorists and insurgents may use the media as a weapon and stage massive, headline-grabbing attacks as a way of showing the surge is a failure. If this massacre was indeed a part of that strategy, it has failed. Journalists aren’t playing along.
(Pause for effect, 4... 3... 2... 1...)
THE PARADE of political tourists to Iraq in recent weeks, during which easily impressed pundits and members of Congress came to be dazzled by the wonders of the troop surge, probably ensures that this murderous adventure will continue well into the next presidency - even if the Democrats win.He cites a recent NY Times op-ed, too...
For example, Kenneth Pollack, a top national security adviser in the Clinton administration whose 2002 book, "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq," convinced many Democratic politicians to support the war, now finds renewed optimism after the surge. In a July 30 New York Times op-ed column, "A War We Just Might Win," which he coauthored after spending eight days in Iraq, Pollack gushed, "We traveled to the northern cities of Tal Afar and Mosul. This is an ethnically rich area, with large numbers of Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen. American troop levels in both cities now number only in the hundreds because the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. Reliable police officers man the checkpoints in the cities, while Iraqi army troops cover the countryside."
So much so that a town 40 miles northeast of Tal Afar was the scene, on Aug. 15, of the deadliest attack of the war - a quadruple bombing left 250 dead and 350 wounded, and most of the buildings in ruin. What about those "reliable" police officers and Iraqi army troops whose presence in the area Pollack found so reassuring? If Pollack was asked about that on any of the talk shows that routinely feature him as an expert, I have not found the footage.
Although my attention is becoming more fixed on my upcoming deployment to Iraq, I have not forgotten Afghanistan.
Note to Opus readers: The Opus strips for August 26 and September 2 have been withheld from publication by a large number of client newspapers across the country, including Opus' host paper The Washington Post.
According to a news story...
We assess that changing the mission of coalition forces from a primarily counterinsurgency and stabilization role to a primary combat support role for Iraqi forces and counterterrorist operations to prevent AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq) from establishing a safe haven would erode security gains achieved thus far," the report states.
The NIE also concludes that Iraq's internal political struggles, ongoing sectarian violence and terror threats leave the country in a precarious situation for the next six-12 months.
Hmmmm... should be a blockbuster 19 days before Gen. Petraeus speaks...
Read the new 10-page NIE "Prospects for Iraq's Stability: Some Security Progress but Political Reconciliation Elusive" HERE