Even the Washington Post admits that we’re winning in Iraq:
Less than a year after his agency warned of new threats from a resurgent al-Qaeda, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden now portrays the terrorist movement as essentially defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and on the defensive throughout much of the rest of the world, including in its presumed haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
In a strikingly upbeat assessment, the CIA chief cited major gains against al-Qaeda’s allies in the Middle East and an increasingly successful campaign to destabilize the group’s core leadership.
While cautioning that al-Qaeda remains a serious threat, Hayden said Osama bin Laden is losing the battle for hearts and minds in the Islamic world and has largely forfeited his ability to exploit the Iraq war to recruit adherents. Two years ago, a CIA study concluded that the U.S.-led war had become a propaganda and marketing bonanza for al-Qaeda, generating cash donations and legions of volunteers.
All that has changed, Hayden said in an interview with The Washington Post this week that coincided with the start of his third year at the helm of the CIA.
"On balance, we are doing pretty well," he said, ticking down a list of accomplishments: "Near strategic defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for al-Qaeda globally — and here I’m going to use the word ‘ideologically’ — as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam," he said.
The sense of shifting tides in the terrorism fight is shared by a number of terrorism experts, though some caution that it is too early to tell whether the gains are permanent. Some credit Hayden and other U.S. intelligence leaders for going on the offensive against al-Qaeda in the area along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where the tempo of Predator strikes has dramatically increased from previous years. But analysts say the United States has caught some breaks in the past year, benefiting from improved conditions in Iraq, as well as strategic blunders by al-Qaeda that have cut into its support base.
Read the whole thing. It’s clear the vastly improved situation is Iraq puts the Democrats in a very tight spot, wedded as they are to the narrative of defeat they’ve been selling since 2004. They’re desperate to avoid talking about it, unless it’s to chant the Harry Reid mantra. What’s worse, the situation improved in large part because of the strategy backed by the likely Republican nominee.
Consider the facts: from nearly controlling western Iraq and swathes of Baghdad, al Qaeda has been reduced to a presence in Mosul — even their own people are admitting they’re facing strategic defeat in Iraq. The Shiite militia of Muqtada al Sadr, who, with Iranian help, tried to create an Iraqi Hizbullah, has been defeated in Basra and Baghdad, and their leader is bravely hiding in Iran. Iran itself has been thwarted in its efforts to dominate Iraq.
The Iraqi security forces have made a quantum leap in competence and can mostly operate on their own: the operations in Basra, Mosul, and Sadr City were largely theirs. This has allowed General Petraeus to schedule the first withdrawals of US forces. The elected government has made great strides toward becoming effective: Prime Minister al-Maliki, once thought of as a tool and a cipher, has shown real leadership in facilitating a reconciliation with the Sunnis and Kurds and uniting them behind the efforts of the Iraqi security forces. Laws governing the sharing of the nation’s oil wealth, the status of former Baath Party members, and provincial elections have been passed or are about to pass.
All these were demands of the Democrats in Congress, yet now they and their likely standard bearer steadfastly ignore the elephant in the living room and pretend it hasn’t happened. It’s as if time froze for them in 2004-2006. They still call for withdrawal regardless of the consequences. They still pin their electoral hopes on their own nation’s defeat.
Trouble is, it’s becoming too evident even for their allies in the mainstream media to ignore. And the American public as a whole will catch on, too. Arguing for retreat and defeat, especially when we’re finally winning, does not win elections. Yet abandoning their cherished dogma will make them look like cynical idiots for advocating losing over changing to a better strategy — one that the other guy had long been backing. Iraq is simply not a winning issue for the Democrats, who look to be making the same mistakes regarding the war that they made in 2004.
I wonder how long it will be before Obama declares it a "distraction from the real issues?"
LINKS: Peter Wehner at Commentary writes about Director Hayden’s testimony and provides a needed caution that near victory, like near defeat, can be reversed. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air notices the same article and discusses the broader context, including Pakistan. Jennifer Rubin notes that good news isn’t good news for everyone.