July 17, 2008

Is The U.S. Media Ready to Concede an Iraqi Victory? Can the Democrats?

I don't think it is an exaggeration to claim that Michael Yon has spent more front-line time with combat forces in Iraq than any journalist for any media organization, so it bears noting when he claims that "...the Iraq War is over. We won."

When another well-traveled independent, Michael Totten, pens a post stating that he is "reluctant" to claim that the war is over—noting that insurgencies don't have official end points such as surrenders—but then provides evidence that it is certainly trending in that direction, it is time to pay attention.

Both Yon and Totten make very well be correct; what remains in Iraq is not a military action best described as a "war" in a conventional sense, and with violence continuing to abate and various militant factions increasingly unable to mount sustained operations of any intensity or duration, calling it even an unconventional war is something a stretch.

Whatever conflict remains it is not a "war," and we can let others quibble over whether the best description of what now remains is a peace-keeping mission, a police action, or something else.

The Sunni insurgency is finished. The sectarian civil war is over. The conflict against al Qaeda in Iraq has been reduced to intelligence-gathering and SWAT-like raids against surviving stragglers and fractured terrorists cells. The Madhi Army has been broken, its leaders killed, captured, or forced to flee to Iran, while the rank and file have faded away as their fellow Shia turned over their weapons caches and turned in militiamen that were often merely criminal thugs. Attrition among Iranian-backed "special groups" has also rendered them incapable of sustaining more than random attacks.

Barring an unforeseen and at this point unlikely and dramatic reversal, the Iraq War is over, and we—and more importantly, the Iraqi's—won.

The U.S. media is beginning to begrudgingly concede to a new reality, but only obliquely. CNN (and Fox News) ran an AP article this morning about bored young soldiers in Iraq seeking action in "the real war in Afghanistan," because they are not seeing any combat in Iraq. It isn't however, a concession of what should be increasingly obvious.

It will be hard—and for some U.S. media outlets that took an extreme position based more upon attempts to shape the politics of the war instead of reporting the news of the conflict, almost impossible—for the U.S. media to admit that the Iraq War ended in victory. The New York Times is one of these outlets that will have a very tough time, as will the McClatchy chain of newspapers, various magazines including TIME and Newsweek, cable news channel MSNBC, and all three networks. Various fringe outlets, particularly those with strong left-leaning politics such as The Nation or Mother Jones, or online outlets such as the Huffington Post or other liberal blogs, may attempt to somehow "redefine" their way into a "loss" by changing the definition of victory, or they may simply decide to never address the subject at all, and hope instead it fades away while they draw their readers elswhere.

For those outlets that made the conflict in Iraqi an editorial attempt to "fight the last war," it will be a bitter defeat. Many of today's top writers, anchors, columnists, editors, producers and publishers cut their editorial teeth and felt at the height of their power at a time when the media shaped a narrative that ended a war and brought down a president that indeed, was a crook. But despite five years of attempts to frame it as such, Iraq was never Vietnam in the desert. The U.S. media was never able to break out of that mindset to any degree, and indeed, relished in the comparisons.

So sure were they of a U.S. defeat that they even made using local propagandists as journalists and sources part of their standard reporting, with little or any probing, vetting, or serious questions asked. From repeatedly seeking comment from an Association of Muslim Scholars openly aligned with the Sunni insurgency (typically without disclosing those insurgent ties), to regularly citing phoned-in reports from anonymous police and military sources miles or even provinces away as they called in one fake massacre after another with reckless abandon, wire services ran fake news without an attempt to vet the stories, because it fit the narrative. It didn't matter that mosques weren't burned with people inside. It didn't matter that dozens of beheaded bodies reported in sectarian violence simply didn't exist. Such stories, real or fake, portrayed the war they wanted.

Reporters and editors who ran such stories were not only not fired by their news agencies for their continued incompetence. Some were instead promoted. There was no penalty for faked or exaggerated news, because it was the extreme, the diabolical, and the hopeless that these news agencies wanted to print, and they weren't all that concerned about where the stories came from.

Now, without another defeat to place on the mantle, U.S. media outlets are unsure of how to act. While even British and Australian newspapers were declaring victory almost a year ago, American outlets simply can't make the admission that they fought the last war, and that a Congress they pushed to help lose the war was unable to hand them the defeat they think we deserved.

Ah, Congress.

Though Democrats have controlled the House and Senate, had public option on their side (thanks to the cooperative shaping of the news), and fiercely antiwar leaders such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, Congressional Democrats were shot down over 40 times (was it over 50? I lost count) in attempts to lose the war by defunding or underfunding it.

And while the media's own attempts to frame a lost war were horrific, it was duly elected Congressmen and Senators who attacked the Presidential Administration, the military commanders, and even the solders on the front lines with the most viciousness. To this day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Harry Reid refuse to admit that the war in Iraq is not lost, and is instead very close to being (or is already) won. John Murtha has not apologized to Marines he accused of cold-blooded murder, even as charges against all but one have been dismissed (the last has yet to come to trial).

And then there is Barack Obama.

A gifted speaker with the hardest of hard-left roots, the political neophyte and presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee has refused to admit he was wrong on the war, and though unassailable facts overran his narrative of defeat, he clung and (continues to cling) to a plan for a panicked retreat designed to create a security vacuum and lose a war he thought should never have been fought.

The media, enamored with their Obama as their last best hope for defeat, will follow him in fawning praise as he make a superficial swing through the region to "talk" to military commanders—be assured, he has no intention of actually listening—about the war in Iraq. In the end, will no doubt still return with Dubya's bulldog tenacity to his predetermined plan of defeat. His storied, heavily self-promoted anti-war wishes and a determined cry abandon the conflict at all costs has been the root cause and defining issue his campaign. Obama will cling to it with the grim, fatalistic determination of a suicide bomber.

The U.S. media has pinned their hopes on Obama as their best and perhaps only hope of bringing about an end to the Iraq war that they can cast as a defeat. Are they ready to concede that the Iraq War was won?

Not as long as they have any hope at all that Democrats can salvage a defeat.

Update: Rick Moran has related thoughts on Obama's strange redefinition of "victory" through surrender at Right Wing Nut House.

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Posted by Confederate Yankee at July 17, 2008 10:25 AM

So, if the war is over in Iraq, then there isn't any problem with Obama or McCain (or even Bush for that matter) immediately bringing home the vast majority of troops. Or shifting them to Afghanistan.

Posted by: diogenes at July 17, 2008 12:10 PM

Only if you are an idiot, diogenes, or someone actively seeking defeat for political advantage, like Senator Obama.

An "immediate" withdrawal is a logistic impossibility. Period. It cannot happen. We have too many men in theater, and too much costly equipment to remove. We cold not pull out in even Obama's 16 months, without leaving hundreds millions, if not billions of dollars in equipment behind, which we would obviously have to replace. And you want "immediately?"

In addition, any sudden, spastic, and arbitrary reduction in force without provisions for a smooth transition to adequately-supported Iraqi forces--a hair-brained scheme championed by the freshman Senator--would create a security vacuum the Iraqis acknowledge that they are not yet ready to fill.

To do what Obama--and obviously you--desire is to create a situation where the security gains made and peace won could potentially be lost. It's a brilliant plan if your intention is to enable rogue militiamen or criminal gangs while allowing terrorists a chance to escape or reform their cells. It's an excellent scheme if you hope to undo gains made by a new democracy, and you see a possible upsurge in violence against civilians tired of war as a political opportunity. If your goal is a desperate bid to hang an albatross around a Republican President's neck and you don't mind risking the lives of the Iraqi people, it's a brilliant idea.

To what end do you want an immediate withdrawal? So that a bunch of bitter left wingers can crow over the bodies of the civilians you helped kill, just so you can say, "I told you we should never have come here?"

Itís a pathetic truism, but a truism nonetheless: when you hear liberals discussing plans for a military withdrawal, you can be sure a genocide is around the corner.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at July 17, 2008 12:58 PM

"Whatever conflict remains it is not a "war," and we can let others quibble over whether the best description of what now remains is a peace-keeping mission, a police action, or something else."

I agree. War and mission are not always the same thing. The troops are coming home, and security is being handed over to the Iraqi's one province at a time as they are ready to handle it. I look forward to hearing Obama's 'opinions' once he gets back from Iraq. Should be entertaining.

Thanks. This was an excellent post.

Posted by: Jim at July 17, 2008 01:03 PM

as for the iraq war-i'm sorry white flag waving liberal left wingers.WE WON THEY LOST-admit it,there is no shame in admitting you and your fellow barack hussein osama supporters were we really can say "mission accompished"!and now off to afghanistan to kick some more ass!

Posted by: sean at July 17, 2008 01:12 PM

I would think that the question of withdrawing our armed forces or not (or how many) would and should depend on what their next mission is. What should have been amply demonstrated in the last couple of years to anybody that follows real world events in OEF and OIF, the military, our military, does more than just break things and kill people.

I find it fascinating that the oft repeated mantra of "withdrawing the troops"(by liberals) is voiced nowadays out of what appears to be sheer habit. Perhaps it's some Pavlovian response?

Perhaps it's not been fully recognized by folks, but we (the US), have a strategic presence (the US military in sizeable numbers and demonstrated capability) in the strategic center, of one of our (US) main stragegic interests (the Middle East oil fields). One would think that after realising this, even the most dimwitted would be urging us to capitalize on this fact. Does this mean a continued military presence? Damn, don't know, maybe. It's above my paygrade. Looking at US history, we still have troops stationed in many of the other places where we've liberated people. At their own request I might add. Why not let the political process work that out?

During some of my more cynical moments I wonder if the thought of losing that vision of the "last helicopter out of Iraq" is the only thing that keeps the left repeating their mantra of "BRING THE TROOPS HOME". Cheer up, it'll all be over soon and the left can move on to rewriting the history books about how the Iranians won the Iraqi war.

Posted by: Barney at July 17, 2008 01:15 PM

Are the Democrats ready to concede an Iraqi Victory?

There are six phases to every project
1) enthusiasm,
2) disillusionment,
3) panic,
4) search for the guilty,
5) punishment of the innocent,
6) praise for the non-participants.

We will know when the Democrats break into phase 6.

Posted by: Neo at July 17, 2008 01:45 PM


So, if the war is over in Iraq, then there isn't any problem with Obama or McCain (or even Bush for that matter) immediately bringing home the vast majority of troops. Or shifting them to Afghanistan.

Judging from your comments, you must have driven your parents nuts on summer vacations with your "Are we there yet?" routine.

Your comments further betray unfamiliarity with military SOP when it comes to redeployments of troops and materiel. There's no way you can load vehicles onto ships or aircraft until they've been thoroughly cleaned, maintenanced, and inspected--wouldn't want to import any nasty plant, animal, or insect life into the U.S., now would we? Cleaning and inspecting equipment for shipment either back to the States or elsewhere takes a lot of time. The generals are right when they say there's no way they could properly do this in 16 months--they might even be hard-pressed to do it in 24 given all the procedures that must be followed thanks to Customs, OSHA, EPA, et. al.

As for an Afghanistan "surge," you may not be keeping up with current events. It's clear that a significant reinforcement of troops in that theater is already in the planning stages and, to a certain extent, may already be quietly under way.

The MSM has been--dare I say it?--"crowing" about that recent battle in which 9 of our troops were killed. It was a tactical set-back in that area of the country and a tragic loss, no doubt about it. However, the MSM'ers would do well to remember that even though George Armstrong Custer and 250+ troops were KIA in a single day at the Little Big Horn, within months the same Indian warriors who won that battle were dead, exiled in Canada, on the run, or back on reservations. They got lots of headlines...and still lost the war.

Posted by: MarkJ at July 17, 2008 05:00 PM