[Painting is by Michael Reukauf. I am not familiar with the artist or his politics but I like the image.]
Senator Joe Lieberman said it best when he described the approach of senate Democrats as “hear no progress in Iraq, see no progress in Iraq and, most of all, speak of no progress in Iraq.” Our Democrat representatives and presidential candidates are no better. All have adopted the mantra of “withdrawal.”
Yet things have been improving for months. UK Defense Secretary Des Browne recently made this upbeat assessment, “I now have a sense that as far as Iraq is concerned, that if this substantial improvement that we have seen over the last couple of months is maintained and accelerates at this rate, then we are not just at the end of the beginning but perhaps the beginning of the end.”
Even the AP, NYT and WaPO are reluctantly admitting it. Military and civilian deaths are down as are the number of attacks on coalitions forces. The Iraqi army is performing much better and General Petraeus’ six-pronged “Anaconda Strategy” against Al Qaeda in Iraq is working.
( The six prongs are 1) Kinetics (which includes combat); 2) Politics (which includes countering ethno-sectarian pressures and Iraqi political reconciliation); 3) Intelligence (operations from air recon to intel assessment); 4) Detainee Ops (which includes counter-insurgency in detention facilities); 5) Non-Kinetics (education, jobs programs); and 6) Interagency)
So why is my party having such a hard time with military success in Iraq? I’m not so far to the right to think all these Democratic politicians are “anti-American” or want us to experience a military defeat. However, in the current political environment I think it is incredibly difficult for a Democrat to unabashedly identify victory in war as a primary foreign policy concern. This is incredibly disconcerting for me as someone who has never voted Republican yet feels compelled to do so in the next election.
I am a McCain Democrat.
Coalition forces caught another suspected Iranian “Special Groups” member in southern Iraq. Last month, a key Special Groups financier was caught in Mahmudiya. The individual has direct links to Iran’s Qods Force and “is suspected to be the primary financier between Iranian intelligence elements and Special Groups criminals in Mahmudiyah and southern Baghdad and was reportedly distributing funds to weapons smugglers supplying criminals in those areas.” Read more in Bill Roggio’s (Long War Journal), “Iraqi army interdicting Iranian operations in the South.”
In Afghanistan, our UK allies inform us the Taliban are in serious disarray due to successful counterinsurgency operations. Thomas Harding from the Telegraph notes:
Last year’s killing of Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban chief, most likely by the Special Boat Service, was “a seminal moment in dislocating” their operation in southern Afghanistan, said Brig Carleton-Smith, 44, who has extensive operational experience in Afghanistan and Iraq and has commanded elite Army troops.
“We have seen increasing fissures of stress through the whole organisation that has led to internecine and fratricidal strife between competing groups.”
Taliban fighters are apparently becoming increasingly unpopular in Helmand, where they are reliant on the local population for food and water.
They have also been subjected to strikes by the RAF’s American-made Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle and the guided Royal Artillery missile system, which have both proved a major battlefield success.
“I can therefore judge the Taliban insurgency a failure at the moment,” said Brig Carleton-Smith. “We have reached the tipping point.”
The task is now to regenerate the economy to win over the civilian population of Helmand, the base for 8,000 British soldiers.
Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, appears to be a town on the cusp of an economic boom if security remains stable.
A new airport will be ready by the end of this year and a packaging factory by the end of next year.
This could enable the soil-rich “fruit basket of Afghanistan” to export its food.