Monday, October 15, 2007

The Truth Will Out

One of the sad consequences of being a conservative in the present age is that one must repeatedly endure seeing truth crushed to earth. We exist in a time where stupidity and cowardice - the two gravest threats to certitude - reign largely unchallenged. The idea, for example, that the 1-2 percent of CO2 that mankind puts into the atmosphere is the determining factor between global temperateness and planetary immolation is scientifically untenable. Yet it has taken such a hold on the collective imagination that supposedly prestigious awards can be given for attempting to convince much of the world's population that a 0.6 degree Celsius increase in the temperature of the earth's atmosphere over the last 100 years is more a cause for concern than terrorism, famine, poverty or disease.

So it is with the currently fashionable idea which posits that America's adventure in Iraq is an abject failure, and that all hope of remediation or salvage is lost. That such an idea was false from the moment it was expressed did not diminish its usefulness. It fit nicely with the thought - embraced by many in the suites of power in Europe, and by more than a few in progressive bastions here - that America deserves to lose in Iraq, that our chastening in the Middle East would ultimately be redemptive. This is still the favored line of belief for most of the Left, and virtually everything that liberal elites have done and said since 9/11 confirms that they still hold American defeat in Iraq as devoutly to be wished.

But it has become more difficult to express as much as of late. This is mainly because the good guys are no longer facing the prospect of defeat and retreat. Now comes more and more evidence that the Iraq War as most Americans understand it is a journalistic fiction. Thanks to Flopping Aces, we are privy to the observations of Victor Davis Hanson as he reports on his most recent trip to Iraq.

Almost all the Marines and Army units I visited from Ramadi to Taji to various hot spots in Baghdad and Diyala believe there has been a sudden shift in the pulse of battlefield. Sometimes without much warning thousands of once disgruntled Sunni have turned on al Qaeda, ceased resistance, and are flocking to join government security forces and begging the Americans to stop both al Qaeda and Shiite militias.
Dr. Hanson is as cautious as the military personnel that he interviewed during his week in Iraq, in as much as he readily acknowledges that military victories can be overwhelmed by political missteps. But even he is of the opinion that most of the officers and soldiers in Iraq "believed we could win - are winning."

But reporting on the good news from Mesopotamia is no longer confined to conservative outlets. Indeed, no less a liberal stronghold than the
Washington Post editorial page conceded yesterday that the situation in Iraq is much improved presently.
In September, Iraqi civilian deaths were down 52 percent from August and 77 percent from September 2006, according to the Web site The Iraqi Health Ministry and the Associated Press reported similar results. U.S. soldiers killed in action numbered 43 -- down 43 percent from August and 64 percent from May, which had the highest monthly figure so far this year. The American combat death total was the lowest since July 2006 and was one of the five lowest monthly counts since the insurgency in Iraq took off in April 2004.

During the first 12 days of October the death rates of Iraqis and Americans fell still further. So far during the Muslim month of Ramadan, which began Sept. 13 and ends this weekend, 36 U.S. soldiers have been reported as killed in hostile actions. That is remarkable given that the surge has deployed more American troops in more dangerous places and that in the past al-Qaeda has staged major offensives during Ramadan. Last year, at least 97 American troops died in combat during Ramadan. Al-Qaeda tried to step up attacks this year, U.S. commanders say -- so far, with stunningly little success.
To be sure, the Post editorial was heavily caveatted, with the editors noting that present successes "could change quickly and tragically, of course." To their credit, the op-ed ends by acknowledging what has become overwhelmingly obvious. Namely, that "those in and outside of Congress who last month were assailing Gen. [David] Petraeus's credibility and insisting that there was no letup in Iraq's bloodshed were -- to put it simply -- wrong." Would that more of the Left were similarly disposed to concede that victory in Iraq is both feasible and desirable.

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