- The Washington Times - Monday, September 17, 2007

The contrast between the focus-group-driven behavior of Congress and heroic work being performed by American fighting men and women on the ground in Iraq (and increasingly, our Iraqi allies) could hardly be any greater. As Jeff Emanuel, who is embedded with the U.S. military in Iraq, writes today on the facing page, the oft-denigrated troop “surge” led by Gen. David Petraeus is achieving positive results: In particular, it is doing what all the antiwar politicians on Capitol Hill claim they want to see — encouraging Iraqis to “take responsibility” for their own country. Mr. Emanuel, a special operations veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, writes that Iraqis have “displayed a level of bravery that we can only hope Americans, if put into the same situation, would ever dream of showing.” He adds that, increasingly, Iraqis in many locations are risking their lives to provide coalition forces with information on terrorist insurgent activity. And they are doing so despite the risk that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might be successful in engineering a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq that will leave them to the mercy of al Qaeda and the like.

“I have personally observed clinics in which coalition medics and doctors provided Iraqi villagers with a level of care that has long been unheard of in this country. I have toured reconstruction sites being worked on by Iraqi contractors, and have ridden along in gun-trucks assigned to protect these men as they rebuild their own country, while terrorists try to kill them and destroy any and all improvements they have managed to provide for their countrymen” Mr. Emanuel writes. “Likewise, I have heard the concern voiced — more times than I can even count — that the coalition, which currently remains the sole source of stability and security in this country, will give in to the cries from home to abandon the Iraqi people to death, and will finally do so. I have participated in countless combat operations driven solely by intelligence provided by Iraqi citizens who knew of terrorists in the area and called the Americans to let them know; likewise, I along with other soldiers whom I have covered, have had my life saved by tips from Iraqi citizens about IEDs and ambushes put into place to kill us.”

The Associated Press reports that Shi’ite leaders in southern Iraq are exploring the possibility of joining forces with the U.S. military to rid their region of Shi’ite militias (usually backed by Iran) in much the same way that Sunnis in Anbar province have joined with U.S.-led coalition forces against al Qaeda in Iraq — a Sunni terror group. Since Anbar Sunnis began working with coalition forces earlier this year, violence in that province has fallen dramatically. Now, Shi’ites are looking to replicate this in the southern part of the country, and they say they will not be deterred by last week’s assassination of Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, who spearheaded the campaign against al Qaeda in Anbar province. U.S. officials say the Iraqi Shi’ites are turning to the coalition out of frustration with the increasing criminal activity and violence resulting from power struggles between rival Shi’ite militias.

The bottom line is that measured progress is being made and cooperation between coalition forces and the Iraqi people is growing. So, what is the reaction on Capitol Hill? Unfortunately, it’s been more demagoguery and political grandstanding. The Washington Post reported yesterday that after Gen. Petraeus proposed withdrawing upwards of 20,000 troops last week, some congressional Democrats thought it was a good thing and attempted to take credit for this “success.” But when House Democratic leaders convened in Mrs. Pelosi’s office one week ago today, strategists concluded that “voters” (i.e., MoveOn.org) didn’t think the cuts went far enough. So, Mrs. Pelosi decreed that the new Democratic Party message would be that Petraeus’s plan meant 10 more years of war, or even “endless war.” Either her spin doctors are giving The Post false information, or Mrs. Pelosi really believes that Gen. Petraeus (and not the terrorists) is to blame if violence continues in Iraq.

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