Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Congressional Leaders are Illiterate on Iraq

"As to why some of Capitol Hill's would-be war managers can't name more than a single Iraqi province, officers and journalists offer all kinds of theories.... But, then, expertise may be beside the point. Obliviousness, after all, has its uses.... Where all this leads is clear. Piece together a string of demonstrably false 'facts on the ground' from a suitably safe remove, and you're left with a scenario where we can walk away from Iraq without condition and regardless of consequence. You don't need to watch terrified Iraqis pleading for American forces to stay put in their neighborhoods. You don't need to read the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which anticipates that a precipitous U.S. withdrawal will end in catastrophe. Why, in the serene conviction that things are the other way around, you don't even need to read at all. Chances are, your congressman doesn't either" -- Lawrence Kaplan, writing in the New Republic, on the basic ignorance about Iraq displayed by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Murtha and other Democratic leaders.

See The National Review Congressional leaders are illiterate on Iraq by Lawrence F. Kaplan May 1, 2007

■ “More than that, congressional leaders often seem loath even to hear about events on the ground. During General Petraeus's visit to Washington last week, for example, House Democrats at first denied the Iraq commander an opportunity to brief them, citing "scheduling conflicts." And, when he finally did brief Congress, the evidence of progress that Petraeus was expected to present was dismissed before he even offered it. "He's the commander," Senator Carl Levin reasoned. "We always know that commanders are optimistic about their policies." The joke here, of course, is that Levin and his colleagues were not so long ago denouncing the Bush administration--and rightly so--for the sin of disparaging military expertise. True, civilians have no obligation to heed that expertise. They do, however, have an obligation to be informed or, at a minimum, to listen.”

■ “Still, the idea dovetails neatly with Reid's insistence that it is "the specter of U.S. occupation [that] gives fuel to the insurgency"--and that, absent this specter, the violence will magically subside. But just the reverse has been true. Falluja and Tal Afar in 2004, Ramadi in 2005, Western Baghdad in 2006--these places became charnel [suggestive of death or a tomb] houses when U.S. forces pulled back.” The

■ “ignores the lessons of the past four years, and purposefully slights the testimony of Petraeus and his fellow experts. Living among the population and sorting "friend from foe" is precisely how the military generates intelligence tips, which, in turn, provide the key to "targeted counter-terror operations." It can't be done from Kuwait, and it can't be done from Okinawa.”

■ “David Broder has pointed out, ‘Instead of reinforcing the important proposition ... that a military strategy for Iraq is necessary but not sufficient to solve the myriad political problems of that country, Reid has mistakenly argued that the military effort is lost but a diplomatic-political strategy can succeed’."

■ “one brand of diplomacy that truly matters in Iraq--the U.S. Army's tribal diplomacy, which accounts for the recent turn-around in Anbar Province--is precisely the mission that Reid's demand for a skeleton force would shut down.”

■ “latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which anticipates that a precipitous U.S. withdrawal will end in catastrophe.”


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