One thing that is made clear by the Petraeus report, is that the surge is yielding measurable and substantive results in Iraq. However, Democrats still seem obsessed with leaving at any cost, regardless of what improvements have been achieved. Sure, the progress is on the terrorist front, and there hasn't been much in the way a political resolution regarding oil revenues and equal (or representative) control of the government in Iraq. But one step at a time. To make the obvious point, (one that Democrats previously made when it was more convenient for them) there can't be any political resolution in a country where there is no security.
It's interesting to see how people on both sides of the issue use this information to their advantage. For one, I watched the Petraeus hearing on Fox, because for most of the hearing, CNN was too consumed with the behavior of disgraced Senator Larry Craig and the Bob Fosset search. Clearly this report means more to people on the right who actually care about what happens in Iraq (and consequently America's foreign policy standing). Those of a more hard left persuasion have already decided that we should leave Iraq regardless of the facts on the ground, and thus this story isn't nearly as important as smearing a GOP senator for his perverse bathroom habits.
But the bottom line is that there was progress in Iraq, and the surge is working. This is good for the America, VERY good for the Iraqis, and yet bad for Democrats. I think it speaks volumes as to where the Democratic party is today, that something that is good for the US is bad for the Democratic party. But this is what happens when you bet on American failure, which they did. Far be it for me to subscribe to a view that has my team losing.
Any improvement in the situation there should be commended and expanded upon. Sure, the majority of the benchmarks were not met. Although as Petraeus pointed out in his hearing, some of the cutoffs for the report were many weeks ago (even though the surge started only a few weeks before that), and more progress has been made since which was not captured. Clearly the strategies in the past were flawed, and the strategies of today are better.
Where I come from, there is an old saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!" These wise words were conceived in regards to science, but they speak to a resolve of purpose which seems to be lost in the America of today. There is no question that the Bush administration blew much political capital with their laissez-faire and simultaneously heavy handed handling of the Iraq war in its infancy. Vice President Cheney has admitted as much and the progress up till this year has been testament of this fact.
But now we seem to be on to something. Clearly what we are doing is working. The gains may be tenuous, but the more we continue to do the right thing, the less tenuous these gains will be. And the closer the Iraqis will be to a safe and politically sound Iraq.
However, Democrats have not changed their position on what we should do now in Iraq. They've made exhortations to the effect that the reductions suggested by General Petraeus are not enough:
"The reduction to a pre-surge level is not a change in course," said Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan. "It's something which will happen anyway, just because of the rotation of our troops and the limit of 15 months for that rotation."
So even though we've made improvements, and even though the situation is getting better because of a change in Bush's Iraq policy, Senator Carl Levin would STILL have us leave Iraq sooner. Does this make any kind of sense? Does he care about the consequences or is his (and his party's) only concern making the situation in Iraq as bad as it can be so as to help Democrats in the upcoming 2008 elections? In light of the reduction of the loss of American lives, Iraqi lives, improved security that the surge has yeilded, what other possible motivation could there be for Democrats to continue to want to turn tail and run from Iraq?