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Will Obama change his Iraq strategy based on the progress now evident?
Posted by: McQ on Monday, June 02, 2008

The LA Times tells us:
The U.S. military on Saturday announced the death of a Marine in Anbar province, as May ended with what could be the lowest monthly toll since American-led forces invaded five years ago.

If no additional deaths are reported, the U.S. military toll for the month will be 19, according to the independent website icasualties.org. The next-lowest toll was in February 2004, when 20 service members were killed.
Of course that's an indicator of progress in reducing the violence in Iraq. But the Washington Post, of all sources, gives the most comprehensive admission of progress I've yet seen.

First:
Iraq passed a turning point last fall when the U.S. counterinsurgency campaign launched in early 2007 produced a dramatic drop in violence and quelled the incipient sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites.
Said more simply - the surge has worked.

Second, caused by the first:
Now, another tipping point may be near, one that sees the Iraqi government and army restoring order in almost all of the country, dispersing both rival militias and the Iranian-trained "special groups" that have used them as cover to wage war against Americans.
How about that? The change in strategy that the anti-war crowd claimed wasn't a change in strategy seems to have paid off with a strengthened Iraqi government and ISF.

Even the UN has recognized the progress.

Of course the WaPo throws in the "standard disclaimer" ("too early to tell", things could change, etc.) but it comes to a fairly stunning conclusion that needs the widest dissemination:
Still, the rapidly improving conditions should allow U.S. commanders to make some welcome adjustments — and it ought to mandate an already-overdue rethinking by the "this-war-is-lost" caucus in Washington, including Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
Got that? The Washington Post has said, right out loud, that progress in Iraq, both in its trend and its specifics is more than enough "to mandate an already-overdue rethinking by the "this-war-is-lost" caucus in Washington, including Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)"

Now, the question is will Obama and that caucus have enough integrity to actually examine the evidence and admit that perhaps they were wrong?

We already have Gen. Petraeus saying it appears, given the trend, that we will be able to pull out additional troops over and above the surge brigades (sometime in the fall).

WaPo says:
If the positive trends continue, proponents of withdrawing most U.S. troops, such as Mr. Obama, might be able to responsibly carry out further pullouts next year. Still, the likely Democratic nominee needs a plan for Iraq based on sustaining an improving situation, rather than abandoning a failed enterprise. That will mean tying withdrawals to the evolution of the Iraqi army and government, rather than an arbitrary timetable; Iraq's 2009 elections will be crucial. It also should mean providing enough troops and air power to continue backing up Iraqi army operations such as those in Basra and Sadr City. When Mr. Obama floated his strategy for Iraq last year, the United States appeared doomed to defeat. Now he needs a plan for success.
"Arbitrary timeline"? How interesting that we now see the WaPo using the same term those who've supported staying the course have used over the years.

This reminds me of a sports analogy. Football team is getting drubbed. Starting and backup quarterbacks are hurt. Third stringer is told to go out, run three plays and punt.
First play - gain of 12 yards off tackle. Second play - 22 yards on an out pass. Third play - 14 yards on a nicely executed play action pass. Fourth play - he punts as instructed.

That is the very same plan Obama now has in place to execute if he becomes commander-in-chief.

So McCain's challenge to Obama to go to Iraq and see for himself what is going on becomes much less a political stunt and more a political necessity given the improving situation there. And if he thinks his present strategy is still viable, he needs to be able to back up his plan with facts and figures. Otherwise, reasonable people, reading things such as this WaPo editorial, are going to be less than impressed by his insistence on retaining his present outdated and dangerous strategy for turning budding success in Iraq into a disastrous defeat.

My guess is he'll go to Iraq. I also think he'll announce a change in his strategy about "immediate withdrawal" and somehow claim that his threat to do so is what caused the Iraqi government to finally begin to step up. All political nonsense and not something the anti-war left will like hearing - but where do they have to go besides Obama?

But isn't it amazing to watch this unfold and find that it is the "war is lost" caucus that is having to do the reality check and refigure their approach to the problem? I'll be watching this with interest over the coming months.
 
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Comments
It’d be interesting if he tries to pull a Pelosi, and attrbute the success of our people to the Iranians.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Just a tiny nit...
such as Mr. Obama
Excuse me, WaPo... That’s Sen. Obama. As much as it disgusts me, he IS a US Senator...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
He’ll not only attribute it to Iran but he’ll also attribute it to Pelosi and call it a victory for reaching out to Middle East nations with discussion.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
If the troops are starting to come home in September, why do you need to worry about what Obama’s plan might be?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
If the troops are starting to come home in September, why do you need to worry about what Obama’s plan might be?
If you have to ask that question it is clear that A) you don’t have any idea of what a troop reduction in Sept. means and B) haven’t a clue as to what Obama’s plan entails. Given that level of ignorance, I’d suggest you do a little rooting around and answer your own question because I simply don’t find educating you worth the effort.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Well, Obama’s plan is to have all the combat brigades out of Iraq around April of 2010. Given all this success you’ve been touting, why is that not a reasonable goal?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Yeah, that’s called an "arbitrary timeline" or did you miss that part in the article?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
All timelines are arbitrary, but without them very little gets accomplished.

Is the success we’re having the kind of success that means we’re still fight in Iraq in two years?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
All timelines are arbitrary, but without them very little gets accomplished.
Really ... so how are we making progress in Iraq without one?
Is the success we’re having the kind of success that means we’re still fight in Iraq in two years?
Depends on the situation, level of fighting, and a myriad of other things, doesn’t it?

Now you tell me - what will the situation be in Iraq in 2010 such that a full withdrawal makes military and political sense and still guarantees success there?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
All timelines are arbitrary, but without them very little gets accomplished.
Incorrect. If you make your plans schedule-driven, then they are largely arbitrary. What does April or 2010 have to do with anything happening on the ground? Absolutely nothing. They are arbitrary dates you pulled out of your fourth point of contact.

If you make your plans event-driven, then they aren’t arbitrary. They are keyed to specific situation and accomplishments. For instance we could key US manpower to ISF manpower. They stand up a brigade and we send one of ours home. We could also key them to levels of insurgent attacks, etc. In this way we focus on the mission of pacifying Iraq not on the date. Now you can affix a prospective date to some of these events, but you have to realize it is something you are shooting for, not a hard time limit on events.

The Nixon administration was schedule-driven. We lost Vietnam. The Bush administration is event-driven. We just might win Iraq.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
The Nixon administration was schedule-driven. We lost Vietnam.
My understanding is that we were doing poorly during the LBJ years, but turned Vietnam around during the Nixon years, only loosing when the Watergate Congress cut back support for South Vietnam (else ’75 would have been a repeat of the Easter Offensive).
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Incorrect. If you make your plans schedule-driven, then they are largely arbitrary. What does April or 2010 have to do with anything happening on the ground? Absolutely nothing. They are arbitrary dates you pulled out of your fourth point of contact.

If you make your plans event-driven, then they aren’t arbitrary. They are keyed to specific situation and accomplishments.
Well, schedules can can be written such that one event triggers another. But yeah, I agree: making a hard date like Obama wants is stupid. It has to be flexable and change as required.

The Vietnam withdraw is a good case in point. When North Vietnam promised to not attack the South, US troop reductions may have been reasonable, but we needed to be ready to support the South if the commies proved to be liers . . .
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
so how are we making progress in Iraq without one?
Good question. Of course as the progress we’re making isn’t the kind of progress that ever lets us leave, it’s kind of moot.

Don and Jeff the Baptist, yes fellas we totally won Vietnam until the Dirty Hippies stabed our brave soldiers in the back. Almost like they stabbed the with a dagger. Like a dagger-stab. How do you say that in German again?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://

 
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