No Vote For The Troops

No Vote For The Troops
September 20th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: No Vote For The Troops

No Vote For The Troops
Wall Street Journal
September 20, 2008
Pg. 14

Even Barack Obama, who opposed the Iraq troop surge, has finally acknowledged its success. But some of his fellow Democrats in Congress apparently remain unconvinced. Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin teamed up to block a vote on a bipartisan resolution "recognizing the strategic success of the troop surge in Iraq" and thanking our men and women in uniform for their efforts.
By late 2006, Iraq was gripped by sectarian chaos. Insurgents and death squads were killing nearly 3,000 civilians per month, and coalition forces were sustaining more than 1,200 attacks per week. On January 10, 2007, President Bush announced the new counterinsurgency strategy that included deploying five additional Army brigades and two Marine battalions to Iraq.
Under General David Petraeus, who relinquished command of U.S. forces in Iraq on Tuesday, sectarian bloodshed has almost entirely abated, daily attacks have fallen to 25 from a high of 180 in June 2007, and overall violence has declined by more than 70%. In July, U.S. combat deaths were lower than in any month since the beginning of the war. All of the troops sent to Iraq as part of the surge have now returned home and are not being replaced.
Citing General Petraeus by name, the resolution, which is sponsored by Independent Democrat Joe Lieberman and Republican Lindsey Graham, "commends and expresses the gratitude to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces for the service, sacrifices, and heroism that made the success of the troop surge in Iraq possible."
The Senators -- allies of John McCain -- had hoped to attach the resolution to a defense bill under consideration this week. But Mr. Reid wouldn't allow it. Democrats have often claimed that while they may oppose the war in Iraq, they wholeheartedly support the troops. That's a defensible position, and this resolution honoring our soldiers and Marines for a job well done gave them a chance to back up their rhetoric. Yet they still balked.
The reality is that success in Iraq has confounded the political left, which placed a huge political bet on our defeat. Senator Reid famously declared the war lost in April 2007. Joe Biden introduced a resolution opposing the surge. And Hillary Clinton said the reports of progress in Iraq required "a willing suspension of disbelief." In the Democratic narrative, our troops in Iraq are victims of a lost cause, not heroes. They're allowed to get maimed and killed, but not to succeed.
Thus Democrats are left to argue that success in Iraq is irrelevant because the real fight against al Qaeda is occurring in Afghanistan. Or that the reduced violence in Iraq has resulted not from the troop surge but from the Sunni Awakening and the retreat of the Sadr militias.
Of course, the surge troops weren't the only reason for success, as retired General Jack Keane argues in an interview here. But without the demonstration of that U.S. commitment, neither the Sunnis nor the Sadrists would have stood down. As for the Iraq campaign's supposed diminished importance in the war on terror, earlier this month General Petraeus told the Washington Post that Iraq remains "the central front" for al Qaeda and other extremist groups.
The Lieberman-Graham resolution is a chance for Democrats to show that their support for the troops is more than rhetorical. It changes no policy and in that sense is only symbolic. Yet it is precisely the political symbolism of admitting they were wrong that is stopping the Democratic leadership from letting it come up for a vote before the Senate adjourns. Unfortunately, the last thing that Democrats want to discuss in this election season is success in Iraq.

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