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Who Takes Credit For The “Surge”?

December 30, 2007

This entry was something that I’ve been considering for some time, but today I’ve decided to post something due to the inspiration that hit me when I saw the news that the Sunday Telegraph had picked their person of the year: General Petraeus: man with a message of hope

The decision seemed to be based on the opinion that the “surge” has been relatively successful, and that Petraeus’ leadership and poise in this against-all-odds scenario was instrumental in bringing Iraq back from the brink of disaster:

But the reason for picking Petraeus is simple. Iraq, whatever the current crises in Afghanistan and Pakistan, remains the West’s biggest foreign policy challenge of this decade, and if he can halt its slide into all-out anarchy, Gen Petraeus may save more than Iraqi lives.

A failed Iraq would not just be a second Vietnam, nor would it just be America’s problem.

It would be a symbolic victory for al-Qaeda, a safe haven for jihadists to plot future September 11s and July 7s, and a battleground for a Shia-Sunni struggle that could draw in the entire Middle East. Our future peace and prosperity depend, in part, on fixing this mess. And, a year ago, few had much hope.

While we could debate how accurate or significant that all is, I think that the most fundamental element missing here lies in the fact that Petraeus, as great as he is, couldn’t (or wouldn’t) be doing what he’s doing without the series of events that led to his ascendancy into command over the operation, or even the crafting of the “surge” plan itself.

So who really can take credit?  Bush?  The Republicans?  The Senate?  The AEI?  Or, as I’m about the make the case, the American people?

While it’s easy to take a look to powers that be who ultimately confirmed Petraeus or the think-tankers that came up with the “new way forward”, most people forget what forced the implementation of the whole change in strategy in the first place:  the results of the November 2006 elections.

Indeed, one might cringe at the thought of a situation where Rumsfeld is still Defense Secretary and a continuation of the status quo in Iraq, but that is quite possibly where we’d be if it weren’t for the Democrat’s landslide victory.  Just look at the chronology:

  • Nov. 7, 2006 Democratic Party captures the House of Representatives and Senate. 
  • Nov. 8, 2006 Rumsfeld resigns
  • Nov. 9, 2006 Heritage Foundation conference “The New Way Forward: Refocusing the Conservative Agenda”
  • Dec. 11-14 2006 Bush meets with State Dept. advisers, Iraqi experts, the Joint Chiefs to gather info for the “new way forward”.
  • Dec. 14, 2006 AEI announces the release of a report that will call for a “sustained surge of U.S. forces to secure and protect critical areas of Baghdad”, releasing their final report Jan 5.
  • Jan. 5, 2007 Announcements of more shakeups in Bush administration personnel, including John Negroponte, Zalmay Khalilzad, Harriet Miers, and Gen. George Casey
  • Jan. 23, 2007 State of the Union address, outlining the plan to deploy more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.

It’s unconscionable that the Bush administration would decide to make a policy change on Iraq based not on the situation in Baghdad, but on the political ramifications that a “thumpin'” (as he put it) in Washington had dealt them, but that appears to be exactly what happened.  Anyone can speculate how many additional lives could have been spared had Bush not been so stubborn.

So, before anyone begins to give praise to anyone with regards to any relative turnaround of the situation in Iraq, just remember that a policy change had been an option since early in the war, and only the collective actions of the American people finally prompted that change.  In my opinion, if there’s anyone to thank, it would be the people who voted Democrat in 2006.

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27 comments

  1. I don’t know if I would say that. The dems ran on a platform of ending the war immediately. Sure, they forced the administration to rethink the tactics being used in Iraq, the fact of the matter remains that had the dems had their way, there would have been a rapid mass exodus of American forces and Iraq would be a ravaged wasteland right now – and they certainly wouldn’t be holding an international film festival in Baghdad this past week or celebrating Christmas openly.


  2. Although I’d concede that the Bush Administration is myopic in it’s vision on the war I can’t accept your thesis fully. The fact that the dems ran as they did surely didn’t impact the choice. The truth is that the Dems and Rummy were at odds over the “cure” for Iraq and when it finally came to be the dems were all “the surge won’t work “! Opposite of what they were previously bitchin’ about. As for the Democratic landslide….call me a stubborn ignorant GOPer but how’s that working ? The landslide has produced nothing and I don’t think that’s the partisan observer in me.
    The about time installment of Petreaus and the tactics he employed is a testimony to the fact that civilians suck at leading a war.He could’ve/should’ve been tapped much earlier.If any “people” are to be given credit imo it’s the Iraqis. They’ve finally took the position that it was their houses and their blood and are now bravely engaging the extremists and outsiders.


  3. Maybe my memory is a little hazy, but I remember that the overriding theme of the campaign was “Bush Iraq policy has failed”. Sure, there were those that were pushing for immediate withdrawl, but not all. The chorus was for a change in direction –whatever that might be– because Bush was clinging stubbornly to a policy that was clearly not working. After the elections and the message sent by the American people, Bush would have looked like a complete ass if he hadn’t done something. So, he finally decided to talk to people who knew what they were talking about, fired (or relocated) some that didn’t, and began to put together a new plan. Now, immediate withdrawl wasn’t going to be an option (both politically and tactically), so he settled on the course of action that gave him a chance to save a little face with his base while satisfying those who wanted some change that could be viewed as positive (or at least had a chance; short of withdrawl/retreat). But the bottom line here is none of that wouldn’t have happened without that landslide.


  4. Some of the stronger Dems spoke of a surge. Many ran clearly on an out/disengagement policy. Further the dems never ceased to support the failing policy and in some way I’m curious if that is not as evil as the policy maker. Think about it. Your comment about W possibly costing extra lives is very true. I would ask you to also consider how much blood is on the hands of the so called enlightened democrats that “knew” there was better way but funded the bad policy in hopes of election success.


  5. I’d agree with that. Disgustingly, both sides of the aisle have been playing politics with the war since the very beginning. It’s one of the reasons why I have been so opposed to it. I’ve never given any of the pro-AUMF Dems any credit at all, and you’re right, since the landslide we’ve seen very little results. So, what I’m saying here is that it’s the people that voted for the Dems and not the Dems themselves. It’s an important distinction.


  6. VERY nice article Chen, if this were the “playa haters ball” I would be hatin’ all over you.

    My two cents are money I have spent before saying the same thing, overwhelming force is always the best deterent…


  7. You mean the same American people who were calling the surge more of the same failed policy? I find it funny that people who were against the surge now want to take partial credit for it. The Democrats who were voted in did not support the surge, they supported ending the war. Harry Reid even called the surge a failure before it began.
    Sure the surge should have been implemented earlier, but to say that Americans who voted to end the war deserve credit for the surge because the people they elected failed to do what they elected them to do? That’s a liitle much.


  8. I had always assumed that the vote was less about being for “ending the war”, and more about voting against “staying the course”. Look at it from that perspective, and the proclamations of Harry Reid are pretty irrelevant to the argument.


  9. Chen,

    You’re a better soul but than most of your lefty colleagues but I find your thinking shallow. The mistake you BDS types make is that you read polls that say 70% of the American people disagree with the war in Iraq and immediately assume it must be because we are there. Worse, you think Iraq is the center of most American’s concerns. I highly doubt it. I would wager a large sum of money more Americans are more concerned with $3.00+ gasoline and a stagnant stock market than the war in Iraq.

    What you apparently fail to understand is that guys like me represent a large chunk of that 70% and I was yelling at Bush saying either fight the frickin’ war with both hands or get out. You don’t hear the reasoning for why people believe the way they do in the media. Just that they’re either for or against. The answer is not simple as many pundits seem to believe.

    All of us should realize that for four years this has not been a conventional military war which we easily won in three weeks but a war of wills. Without the Iraqis deciding who actually were the good guys and providing them a ray of hope, nobody was going to win this fight. The Iraqis had to decide their own future and I think the verdict is still out to which way they’ll choose to go – but it does look promising. That would not be happening if the Dimocrats had their way and you know it. We simply have given the Iraqis the means to have the choice.

    When we escalated the war six months ago and begin to fight offensively, I think it gave the Iraqis a little more faith that we are not bailing on this one. I will be the first to admit there’s some justification in condemnation of the methods used to fight this war, our inability to adapt, our ignorance of the culture, planning, yada yada yada…but the fact is, there was a lack of trust pertaining to the Iraqi people about Americans and their will to see this through. And much of that had little to do with George Bush Jr. Add to the fact, planning a war is probably more complicated than putting a man on the moon…well, mistakes happen and anybody that doesn’t understand that is a moron.

    Our government and their indecision has left a rotten track record for a while. I don’t blame many of our allies and some of the current fence straddlers for not trusting us. But that didn’t start in Jan 2001.

    General Petraeus real accomplishment has been the surge has convinced both Shia and Sunni alike that Al-Qaeda is the trouble and we are there to help expedite removing their problem. I condemn Bush for even giving a minute to the left’s incessant whining and complaining. It has cost him personally and our military dearly.

    And if we are going to give credit for the surge, I think the credit should start with the guys implementing the surge first – the entire American military with the emphasis for the guys on the ground. Much like the quarterback of the football team, General’s receive too much of the credit and too much of the blame.


  10. Chen,

    You’re a better soul but than most of your lefty colleagues but I find your thinking shallow. The mistake you BDS types make is that you read polls that say 70% of the American people disagree with the war in Iraq and immediately assume it must be because we are there. Worse, you think Iraq is the center of most American’s concerns. I highly doubt it. I would wager a large sum of money more Americans are more concerned with $3.00+ gasoline and a stagnant stock market than the war in Iraq.

    What you apparently fail to understand is that guys like me represent a large chunk of that 70% and I was yelling at Bush saying either fight the frickin’ war with both hands or get out. You don’t hear the reasoning for why people believe the way they do in the media. Just that they’re either for or against. The answer is not simple as many pundits seem to believe.

    I don’t recall ever mentioning such a poll, and I’m not sure what this has to do with the argument I’m making here. But since you brought it up, I can say for myself that I try to examine the particular question being asked (or the wording). Some opinion polls ask if we should pull troops out, while others ask if the war was a mistake. Still others ask if one agrees with Bush’s Iraq war policy. It’s important to make those distinctions.

    As for fighting with “both hands”, I assume you’re referring to complaints over the rules of engagement? There is a reason they are what the are, and I believe it’s dictated by the fact that we aren’t fighting a war, we’re trying to put down an insurgency. If you want, see my post:

    We Won The War, But Are Losing The Battle Against The Insurgency


  11. ChenZhen,

    I’m just parroting the mantra of the left…70% of the American people want us out of Iraq…blah, blah, blah. The surge isn’t working…blah, blah, blah. Chickenhawks…blah, blah, blah…no blood for oil…blah, blah, blah.

    To give the lefties like you any credit for the recent success in Iraq is like giving the Muslims credit for the formation of the state of Israel in 1948.

    You and your Dimocratic buddies have done everything possible besides strapping on a suicide vest to make sure we would lose.


  12. That’s kind of a straw man then, don’t you think?


  13. No more so than giving the Dimocratic voters credit for the success in Iraq.

    That type of thinking is analogous to controlled demolitions on 9/11, Harry Reid thinking he one-upped Rush Limbaugh and trying to take credit for a $4MM dollar donation to the troop’s fund, or DICK Durbin comparing the military and GITMO operations to Nazis and gulags.

    The addled mindset of the “progressive” party continues to astound me.


  14. I’m going to help you out here. You said:

    I’m just parroting the mantra of the left…70% of the American people want us out of Iraq…blah, blah, blah. The surge isn’t working…blah, blah, blah. Chickenhawks…blah, blah, blah…no blood for oil…blah, blah, blah.

    That’s a straw man:

    A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.[1] To “set up a straw man” or “set up a straw man argument” is to create a position that is easy to refute, then attribute that position to the opponent. Often, the straw man is set up to deliberately overstate the opponent’s position.[1] A straw man argument can be a successful rhetorical technique (that is, it may succeed in persuading people) but it is in fact a misleading fallacy, because the opponent’s actual argument has not been refuted.[2]

    Make sense?

    Anyway, stop deflecting.

    It’s simple. My assertion is that the “surge” would not have been crafted and implemented if it weren’t for the Democrats victory. To win this argument, I’d advise you to come up with some evidence that would support the position that the “surge” would have happened even if the results of the election were a Republican landside. You’d have to find something that suggests that the change in strategy was independent of what happened that November, and the fact that it was ushered into implementation so quickly after the election results was mere coincidence.


  15. Here, let’s see if you’ve got the stones to let this comment stand on your blog that you’re so proud.

    Chenzhen, you remind me of a humorless flunkie from a Philosophy 101 course. You plaster that definition of a “strawman” everywhere you lay one of your golden eggs all the while becoming well known as the gadfly of internet blogs. Let me beat you to it…ad hominem.

    My statement had little to do with your ignorant thread and more to do with the constant meme passing through the neo-pagan community of which you’re a member. You want to talk philosophical methods? Your ethical theory is Reductio Ad Absurdum. Make sense?

    Like I said, most of your crowd are terribly lame that way; like Harry Reid – or better yet, your hero Bill Clinton. You’ll take credit for anything positive when in reality you live in the negative and do nothing except get in the way. It’s called arrested development and Evan Sayet said it better than I ever could have. You ought to watch this video…he’s describing you and your ilk to a microscopic “T”.


  16. Here, let’s see if you’ve got the stones to let this comment stand on your blog that you’re so proud.

    Why wouldn’t I? As far as I’m concerned, resorting to ad hominem is just waving a white flag. In fact, at one point I had that sentiment etched into the Chamber sidebar. Maybe I should put it back up there.


  17. ChenZhen,

    You’re hopelessly naive and have the bad habit of being flippant while doing so, then feigning victimhood when somebody flips your nose. To any lib, any disagreement is classified as an ad hominem. That’s what makes your type so weak.

    Your statement that the Dimocrats are responsible for the success in Iraq is so ludicrous, it is not worthy of debate. It is the equivalent to calling terrorists freedom fighters. Like Evan said in my above link, we don’t think you are stupid. We think you learned everything you will ever know in kindergarten and never grew up.

    As far as waving a white flag, I actually think that is funny. You don’t debate with the mentally insane – you either find them a care giver or in your case where still physically capable and they refuse help, you snicker at them behind their back. If you didn’t vote, I would gladly let you ramble on just for the humor. But your vote makes you dangerous – therefore, the fight continues.


  18. Tex- you sure like those analogies, don’t you?

    Anyway, I never said that the “Dimocrats” are responsible. I’m saying that the American people are. Have you been reading the thread?


  19. Honestly, what makes anyone so sure that opposition to the Iraq War necessarily means that those in opposition are “liberals”? This is one of the more interesting aspects of those who are anti-war. It is more a response to a policy of idiocy than a lack of support for the current administration.


  20. Honestly, what makes anyone so sure that opposition to the Iraq War necessarily means that those in opposition are “liberals”?

    I’ve had that debate many, many times. I mean, if unconditional support for war makes one a conservative, then I have no problem being called a liberal I guess.


  21. I sure do like those analogies Chen. It’s the one thing “progressives” like you and Lexie attempt to grasp before rambling on. So here’s another one – consider this one a parable for activists like Lexie.

    But before I wrap this up, I want to thank you personal for giving me an epiphany. You, Lexie and all the rest of the insipid BDS types have finally reminded me of my previous experiences in corporate America and why I left it.

    Tex’s parable of BDS types:

    You are like the Human Resources Manager of NASA who upon the safe arrival of the Apollo 13 crew, burst into command and control center and announced to the news media that we can thank all the NASA HR employees for mission accomplished.


  22. In my opinion, if there’s anyone to thank, it would be the people who voted Democrat in 2006.

    That ain’t the American people Chen – that’s the bottom rung of the American people. Oh, there’s a few good ones, Lieberman, Sam Nunn or David Boren for instance. I thought you folks were the ones who wanted inclusion?


  23. I’ve watched this thread and for the most part CZ has stayed true to his position. He has offered clarification and has evaluated and altered secondary to added points of view.


  24. Tex- bottom rung? Please. The election was a landslide of historic proportions.

    in2thefray- not that it has done much good. Tex here doesn’t really have any interest in an honest debate on the subject at hand, so I went ahead and added a white flag avatar to his admitted ad hominem post.

    In fact, I think I might do this for everyone who behaves this way. hmmmm….I might have and idea here.


  25. Chen,

    I doubt you’d approve of my avatars. Better stick with the blank one…

    As far as adding or debating honestly, there is nothing to add because your conclusion is a blank slate – like trying to disprove a negative. It’s the oldest Dim tactic – throw out any dumb conclusion and see what sticks (usually in a room full of other Dims because not only are you guys wrong on the issues you’re also cowards).

    You party doesn’t debate – you whine and make promises you can’t possibly keep, then pat yourselves on the back for your ingenuity. You’re devoid of ideas that mean anything to most Americans. Most lefties have added nothing to the Iraq fight, the war on terror, the economy, or anything else relevant. That’s why honorable people like a large majority of our military disdain your crowd. They realize liberals are devoid of honor too. You excel at criticism, obstruction, BDS, and American hatin’. Sensible people know that.

    You know what book you need to read Chen if you want an honest conclusion about liberalism, progressivism, or neo-paganism as I like to call it? Written by a lib? Read Bernie Goldberg’s book about CBS and liberalism. It’s your blog…

    If that landslide of 2006 was of historic proportions (another lib lie; it barely reached average proportions for a 2nd term Pres.) as you say, why haven’t you and your representatives gotten anything accomplished in an entire year? Even the Presidency doesn’t have that kind of stroke to prevent approval of overwhelmingly popular issues. Last I looked, your Dimocratically controlled Congress had a historically low approval rating. They’ve been an abysmal failure by any measure. Even if you win the Presidency this next go around, it won’t matter – your ideas, or lack thereof, never last.

    People may vote in protest against Bush and the Republicans but it’s not a vote for the Dimocratic party ideal. The only scary thoughts to me personally are a possible Ginsberg, ACLU, man-hating type on the court and you guys gutting the military again when we need them most. As far as liberal persuasion, this country has moved way right since the mid 70s and will continue to do so if it is to survive.

    I saw a poll the other: Reuters, Zogby, something. It was all over the news. And the poll said most Americans consider themselves happy and content. And I thought to myself, what a disconnect. Americans don’t know how good they’ve got it but they scream for change. It almost made me wish you guys could win in a real landslide and screw things up so bad, people would never forget. It happened once in my lifetime with Carter. But unfortunately, American memories are short like their attention span. American people are fickle and they soon forget.

    It will take a great tragedy, far greater than 9/11 I’m afraid, to wake us up. A shame, mainly because of my children.


  26. People may vote in protest against Bush and the Republicans but it’s not a vote for the Dimocratic party ideal.

    Funny, a second ago you referred to such people as “bottom rung”.

    Anyway,

    I think you hit the essence of my point here. I think the reason why the results were so overwhelming* is because a significant number of independents and moderates voted for the Dems purely out of protest and a sincere desire for change. The message and political dynamics forced the administration to react and change policy on Iraq, and (within a month or two) materialized into the “surge”. Like I stated upthread, the actual Dem positions and productivity in the past year is fairly irrelevant to this.

    *The results were historic…literally. They were the first elections in US history were no Republican captured any House, Senate, or even Gubernatorial seat previously held by a Democrat. None. Zero.


  27. I don’t see my statement conflicts with what I previously stated before…

    Ah Chenzhen, you’re a gentleman. I’ll give you that and truly I don’t dislike you like I do so many of the fools from your party.

    And maybe so about Republicans not capturing anything – they didn’t deserve to in my opinion but the history I was talking of were the numbers switching. Really nothing significant and the results were about the historical average.

    But I do disagree with your reasoning as to why the “surge” was finally conducted. I think Bush finally got the message from his own party either get with it or get out – that and the illegal immigration issue were the real messages of the 2006 election.

    That’s why I don’t feel like so many Dimocrats do that the 2008 Presidential election is a given, especially if Hillary Clinton wins. I think many people are going to be completely surprised.



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