The Big Shift

One day, One edition of the New York Times, Two different worlds.....

There is a big shift on concerning Iraq, but depending on which NYT article you read, it may not be the one you were thinking of.

Shift #1:
Sensing a Shift, Reid Will Press for an Iraq Exit

WASHINGTON, July 7 — Democratic voters are not the only ones bitter over their party’s failure to use new Congressional power to force a withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Senator Harry Reid, the occasionally obstreperous Democratic leader, is upset as well.

“We haven’t done enough,” said Mr. Reid, a onetime moderate who has evolved into one of the party’s most fervent critics of the war.

That view captures not only Mr. Reid’s sentiment but also the shifting political dynamic on the war, as public frustration remains high, the conflict dominates the presidential campaign landscape and senior Republicans have chosen to break with President Bush even as the administration has urged patience.

Sensing momentum from the new Republican defections, Mr. Reid and other leading Democrats intend to force a series of votes over the next two weeks on proposals to withdraw troops and limit spending. Democrats are increasingly confident they can assemble majority opposition to administration policies.

Shift #2:
Showcase and Chimera in the Desert

SUNNI merchants watched warily from behind neat stacks of fruit and vegetables as Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno walked with a platoon of bodyguards through the Qatana bazaar here one recent afternoon. At last, one leathery-faced trader glanced furtively up and down the narrow, refuse-strewn street to check who might be listening, then broke the silence.

“America good! Al Qaeda bad!” he said in halting English, flashing a thumb’s-up in the direction of America’s second-ranking commander in Iraq.

Until only a few months ago, the Central Street bazaar was enemy territory, watched over by American machine-gunners in sandbagged bunkers on the roof of the governor’s building across the road. Ramadi was Iraq’s most dangerous city, and the area around the building the most deadly place in Ramadi. Now, a pact between local tribal sheiks and American commanders has sent thousands of young Iraqis from Anbar Province into the fight against extremists linked to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. The deal has all but ended the fighting in Ramadi and recast the city as a symbol of hope that the tide of the war may yet be reversed to favor the Americans and their Iraqi allies.
Wow. Not that this is anything new, but what a difference. One dispatch filled with news of hope for victory, and one filled with political machinations to encourage defeat.

As has been well documented over the last few months, the Democrats will try their hardest to pass defeatist resolutions before the 'Surge' can have any real effect. Unfortunately they are running out of time, as Shift #2 demonstrates. So it must make Harry Reid happy when he hears more and more milquetoast Republican Senators having second thoughts.

Of course all of this comes right as we are on the precipice of success. Or 'tipping point' if you will. Where I come from that is called "Grasping defeat from the jaws of victory."

But what bothers me the most, is that even if they arenot successful in their attempts, the Dems project the image that the U.S. is a 'weak horse'. This of course is a reference to Osama bin Laden's 2001 staement "...when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse." In 1996 bin Laden also declared a fatwa, in which he said "Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge , but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear." The weak horse was the defeat in Vietnam, the withdrawal from Beirut, the withdrawal in Somalia, the lack of response to the USS Cole. The appearance of "impotence and weakness" has severe consequences.

For some time in Iraq, we rode the weak horse, which motivated the insurgency and caused the political turmoil at home. Right now in Iraq, we are starting to ride a Strong Horse. It is the Surge and its devastation of our enemies which have turned the tide.
"...But the change that made all the others possible, American officers say, was the alliance with the sheiks. In Ramadi, 23 tribal leaders approached the Americans and offered to fight the extremists by forming “provincial security battalions,” neighborhood police auxiliaries, and by sending volunteers to the Iraqi Army and police. Across Anbar, the 3,500 policemen in October jumped to 21,500 by June. In Ramadi, where there were fewer than 100 policemen last year, there are now 3,500.

Many recruits, American officers acknowledge, were previously insurgents. There’s a lot of guys wearing blue shirts out there who were shooting at us last year,” Colonel Charlton said.

The trend has spread to other areas where American and Iraqi troops are fighting extremists, including the Sunni district of Amariya in Baghdad, where former insurgents have been given arms and ammunition to fight Al Qaeda-linked groups."
In the region and culture, strength is respected. That may be anathema to the ears of sensitive Senators who don't want to do anything that would jeopardize their "wish is to be carried out of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body feet first", but it is the situation that the military forces fighting the war have to deal with. Nothing could have produced Shift #2 but the employment of strength as called for in the Surge.

Unfortunately, in the deluded myopia that drives Shift #1, the Dems have declared the Surge a failure, and want to take the Strong Horse out behind the barn and shoot it.

Addendum: For a look at another interesting 'Compare & Contrast' for Shift #2, check out downrange milblogger Badger 6.

Addendum II: A second offering from another downrange milblogger, Jack Army, in the form of a letter from an Iraqi citizen, showing how the Iraqi public may only trust the U.S. military to get the job down....

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