- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 11, 2007

As the ill-named “surge” of U.S. troops to Baghdad goes forward, congressional Democrats — more heavily than ever invested in failure — are pressing ahead with their political campaign to ensure that Gen. David Petraeus’s plans to take the war to the terrorists are never implemented. The word “surge” gives a false impression of the military campaign taking place in Iraq. It connotes some temporary increase in forces that would enable the terrorists to come right back as soon as Americans leave (something that has happened time and again in the past). Gen. Petraeus is going in the opposite direction. He plans to implement a longer-term counterinsurgency campaign that goes well beyond just killing and arresting terrorists to include moving U.S. troops out of their military bases and into Baghdad neighborhoods to protect Iraqi civilians.

At this point, with most of the reinforcements yet to arrive in Iraq, it is impossible to say with certainty that the new strategy will be successful. But there are a number of encouraging signs, as U.S. soldiers have begun leaving their large bases and move into neighborhoods in Baghdad. According to David Kilcullen, Gen. Petraeus’s senior counterinsurgency adviser, sectarian fighting between Shi’ites and Sunni Arabs has declined by between 50 and 80 percent in various sections of Baghdad. Moreover, families are starting to return to the capital. Until approximately a month ago, between 500 and 600 Iraqi families per month fled Baghdad. During the past month, by contrast, between 600 and 1,000 families have returned there. Also, some of the Sunni insurgent groups who oppose the murderous rejectionism of al Qaeda in Mesopotamia have been holding talks with Iraqi and U.S. officials.

At the same time, Gen. Petraeus observed, terrorists have continued carrying out deadly attacks against health clinics and schools; car bombs have targeted college students in Baghdad; and on Tuesday more than 100 Shi’ite pilgrims were massacred in Hilla, located south of Baghdad. Gen. Petraeus points out that American forces face a long, difficult road to stabilize Iraq and has quite appropriately left open the possibility of sending in more troops if necessary to get the job done.

While Gen. Petraeus works to defeat the terrorists, his efforts are being undermined at every turn by congressional Democrats — who sound like buffoons when they move away from their talking points. Christina Bellantoni of The Washington Times reported on a press conference held by the House Democrats on Thursday to discuss the specifics of their own Iraq proposal, during which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others incoherently stumbled over details of their plan, forcing reporters to stifle laughter. That’s just another illustration of the poor quality of wartime leadership the nation currently has on Capitol Hill.

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