Thursday, January 03, 2008

Some excellent political “updating”

is found today in Mike Williams electronic letter:

In case you missed it, the Iowa caucuses are happening tonight. On Page 1 above-the-fold, the N&O reminds you that John Edwards is, once again, running for President, and that the economy has replaced Iraq as the central issue of Campaign 2008.

Edwards, we learn, has spent the last five years building his Iowa political machine. That’s quite an investment if you think about it. N&O columnist Rick Martinez laments that the “disproportionate power of Iowa caucus-goers and New Hampshire primary voters is no longer a trivial matter.” Even the reliably partisan Jim Jenkins calls the caucuses “the nuttiest step in the process of picking a president of the United States.” What that says about John Edwards spending the last five years there I’m not sure. Anyway, Dick Morris and Eileen McGann tell you all about who needs what from Iowa tonight if you’re interested.

Meanwhile, casualties in Iraq are indeed down. U.S. deaths are currently at their lowest three month totals ever. StrategyPage:

The U.S. always put a premium on keeping American casualties down. This led to tactics, equipment and weapons designed to get the job done, with the fewest American dead and wounded. As a result, the casualty rate in Iraq was less than half what it was in Vietnam.

There was also an emphasis on keeping civilian casualties down. It was difficult for most Americans to realize this, given the media's fixation on real or imagined atrocities. In Iraq, over 90 percent of civilian casualties were inflicted by other Iraqis. The military encouraged the media to not cover the many procedures ("rules of engagement" or ROE) U.S. troops follow to avoid civilian losses. This was because the enemy would exploit those ROEs as much as possible.

In hindsight, U.S. troops will get credit for keeping their own casualties down to historically low levels (compared to any other 20th century conflict). Professional soldiers have already recognized this feat, and are studying American techniques intensively. Less well appreciated are the efforts the Americans made to keep civilian losses down.

But foreign military experts are coming to appreciate that this aspect of the war paid long term benefits. Iraqis saw, day by day, the efforts by American troops to avoid hurting civilians. Initially, Iraqis saw that as an American weakness, but in the long run they recognized it as a sensibility rarely seen in the Middle East. This will have long term consequences for relations between the United States and Iraq.
Of course the Dems and their MSM enablers want Iraq to go away as a campaign issue – they’ve been proven spectacularly wrong on Iraq since they took over Congress, and they don’t want voters remembering that. (Although John Edwards, apparently oblivious to facts on the ground, is still advocating cut-and-run.)

Even most of the Republican candidates aren’t sure how to deal with Iraq. Victor Davis Hanson explains:
There is a sort of Orwellian quality, however, in the Republican candidates’ positions on the war: all seem to support the present Bush course but can’t quite name the President, given his 36% favorable rating in the polls. The result is that we hear of little substantive difference from the present strategy, but frequent protestations about past mistakes — that seem intended as necessary cover for de facto associating oneself with George Bush’s Iraq….
And this:
The final irony? No candidate apparently argues that someone did something right to have prevented another 9/11-like attack for over six years, removed two dictatorships, fostered the continued, stubborn presence of democratic governments in Afghanistan and Iraq, helped change the Middle East dynamic from Lebanon to Libya, and at present won friendship and support from key countries as diverse as France, Germany, and India.
As we kick off Campaign 2008 in Iowa, it’s worth a look back at why we went to war in Iraq to start with. And it’s also worth a look back at how politically partisan our MSM has become, and the terrible havoc its agenda-driven reporting is capable of wreaking. As for those of you who think they’ll report any more objectively on the economy than they’ve done on Iraq….
Thanks Mike for a fine piece of work.