- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Senate Democrats yesterday provided yet another sorry illustration of the fact that they are thoroughly invested in the defeat of U.S. military forces in Iraq. This happened despite the growing evidence that the troop surge is damaging al Qaeda, and that the Iraqis are making remarkable progress on the political front as well.

What happened yesterday? Lawmakers debated legislation introduced by Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin that would cut off funding for the troops in Iraq in 120 days. Moreover, the Feingold proposal would, after ending military operations in Iraq that are principally directed against al Qaeda in Mesopotamia (in essence, reviving that terrorist group from the dead), requires Mr. Bush to formulate a new plan for defeating al Qaeda.

The Feingold plan — which is pushed by a coalition that includes MoveOn.org, former Sen. John Edwards and the Service Employees International Union — is an example of what happens when ideologues become captive to their own hatreds and mythology. In this case, it is the pre-surge notion that the situation was hopeless when the facts say otherwise. For example, violent civilian deaths in Iraq were 76 percent lower last month compared with January 2007. Meanwhile, U.S. combat deaths were down by more than 50 percent. So, Democrats dismissed evidence of military progress by pointing to a lack of political progress. But in the past two weeks, the Iraqi Parliament approved three critical measures: partial amnesty for prisoners (more than three-quarters of whom are Sunni); provincial powers and elections to Iraqi provinces by October; a law allocating government revenue (more than 80 percent of which comes from oil) to the provinces.

So, what have Senate Democrats been doing in the face of these new realities? Living in a time warp. On Monday, Sen. Hillary Clinton declared that Republican presidential frontrunner John McCain “can’t seem to budge from the Bush approach that insists on using military force when diplomacy is needed. He has said he wants to leave our troops in Iraq … for 50 to 100 years. I would start to bring them home within 60 days.”

Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who until a few months ago had been a ferocious critic of the Iraq war, recently returned with a very different perspective. He now thinks that the war is winnable. But a “serious [U.S.] military and advisory presence will probably be needed” until at least 2012, he says, while “rushed reductions in forces or providing inadequate forces will lead to a collapse at the military level.” Senate Democrats insist on clinging to defeatist talking points when they should be rethinking their own strategy amid the cold and hard facts.


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