Thursday, December 13, 2007

USA Today: Progress in Iraq But

USA Today summarizes its lead editorial today:

Our view on war in Iraq: Surge's success holds chance to seize the moment in Iraq
Instead, Democrats are lost in time, Bush lowers the bar for Baghdad.
Iraq remains a violent place, but the trends are encouraging.
It then begins:
U.S. and Iraqi casualties are down sharply. Fewer of the most lethal Iranian-made explosive devices are being used as roadside bombs. In community after community, Sunni groups who were once in league with al-Qaeda have switched sides and are working with the U.S. forces.

On the Shiite side of Iraq's sectarian chasm, something similar is happening. About 70,000 local, pro-government groups, a bit like neighborhood watch groups, have formed to expose extremist militias, according to Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations.

But as much as facts have changed on the ground, little seems to have changed in Washington. There are plans to withdraw some troops next year, but there is no clear picture of the endgame in Iraq. How long will troops be needed? Exactly what do we expect success to look like? Will we leave behind a permanent presence?

None of the answers are any clearer than they were when the news began improving. In fact, they seem fuzzier.

On the Republican side, the White House has been busy making excuses for the Iraqi government's failure to move toward national reconciliation (which is the goal of the troop surge), and it has lowered the benchmarks for success to the level of irrelevance.

That translates into reduced accountability, continued dependency and an open-ended commitment. Lowering the bar for the Iraqi government sends a message that Baghdad can enjoy security paid for in American lives, and reconstruction aid paid by America's taxpayers, and ignore its responsibilities.

Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, seem lost in a time warp. They could try to impose new benchmarks that acknowledge the military progress. Instead, too many seem unable or unwilling to admit that President Bush's surge of 30,000 more troops has succeeded beyond their initial predictions.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who in the spring declared the war lost, said last week that "the surge hasn't accomplished its goals." Anti-war Democrats remain fixated on tying war funding to a rapid troop withdrawal. Yet pulling the troops out precipitously threatens to squander the progress of recent months toward salvaging a decent outcome to the Iraq debacle.

What's needed is acknowledgment that the surge is achieving what was intended: not complete military victory but enough stability to make political compromise possible. What's missing is Iraqi will to take advantage of the success
There’s more to the editorial here.

USA Today’s editorial offers readers, IMO, a thoughtful assessment of what we’re hearing is happening in Iraq.

The editorial doesn’t have much partisan tilt that I can detect.

My hat’s off to USA Today for its editorial.


Ralph Phelan said...

"How long will troops be needed? Exactly what do we expect success to look like? Will we leave behind a permanent presence?"

South Korea.