The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Saturday, July 26, 2008
AP "Decides" America is Winning In Iraq; Obama follows suit; Afghanistan GI's NOT Impressed
Read Glenn's links to Tom McGuire and Michael Totten too...
THIS IS NOT THE BAGHDAD THAT BARACK OBAMA KNEW: A.P. Declares Victory in Iraq.
The United States is now winning the war that two years ago seemed lost.
Limited, sometimes sharp fighting and periodic terrorist bombings in Iraq are likely to continue, possibly for years. But the Iraqi government and the U.S. now are able to shift focus from mainly combat to mainly building the fragile beginnings of peace — a transition that many found almost unthinkable as recently as one year ago. . . .
Meanwhile, Deebow over at Blackfive reacts to the highlighted portion of the text above with the following demand for reportage compensation:
Yeah, unthinkable if you were not walking the streets of Ramadi or in Anbar Province actually attending meetings with Sunni leaders in your AO. Unthinkable if you looked at your watch every Wednesday night to ensure you weren't going to be late for your Code Pink chapter meeting. Unthinkable if you were some disgruntled employee thinking up the latest whopper in the chow hall at Camp Arifjan to tell the IVAW so they would invite you to Winter Soldier II.
This is the part that get me though:
EDITOR'S NOTE — Robert Burns is AP's chief military reporter, and Robert Reid is AP's chief of bureau in Baghdad. Reid has covered the war from his post in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in March 2003. Burns, based in Washington, has made 21 reporting trips to Iraq; on his latest during July, Burns spent nearly three weeks in central and northern Iraq, observing military operations and interviewing both U.S. and Iraqi officers.
So between these two tool bags, and their daily contacts with every military PAO cell in every TOC all over the country, they could not see this coming? I mean, one of these guys has been there more times than the US Marines and the other guy actually lives there and they didn't notice all the good things taking place, like less VBIEDs in the Green Zone, the capturing and killing of Zarqawi and company, and the plummeting casualty rate until just today?
Talk about galactically stupid..... I think it borders on criminal....
And for you bean-counters in the AP Accounts department who will undoubtedly try to bill me, Matty, Uncle J and company for excerpting your material, here is my prepared response:
I know that this may come as shock to all of you over there at the AP; working diligently night and day to try to convince the world that we are losing in Iraq, but we here at B5 and elsewhere have been writing this narrative of working toward victory and noticing (and publishing) the small steps, the sacrifices, the victories, the missteps and the turnaround that was blatantly obvious to anyone who knew someone fighting over there or anyone in the free world with an Internet connection capable of finding any of 1,000 blogs and websites that tell the stories everyday of the who, what, where, how, and why of our victory. This was made possible by the blood, sweat and sacrifice of individual US Soldiers, who through this work are making it possible for a great victory to be achieved.
By acknowledging the impending victory in Iraq, you are now excerpting us and all the victory narrative we have been shouting about all over the blogosphere for some time now...
And we want our money.....
Near as I can figure, the AP and their partners owes B5 about a gazillion dollars for using our narrative of what we, the Victory crowd, have been saying all along; based upon their own interpretation of their policy about the fair use of material.
Take a couple days to collect up the cash AP; but don't make me, Uncle J, Matty, Froggy and Mr. Wolf have to come down there to get it.
Small, non-sequential bills in black, non-descript gym bags will be just fine....
Meanwhile "The Enlightened One" Barack Obama is now parroting the Bush/McCain line on the War:
I wrote about this a few days ago when he ducked Katie Couric’s question by torturing the distinction between tactics and strategy. According to The One, the president sets the strategy: Most troops out in 16 months but some left behind for various missions. The generals supply the tactics: To carry out those missions responsibly, we need X number of troops. What does X equal? Why, it’s … “entirely conditions-based”:
In Iraq, it’s not new that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has wanted to take control of his own country. But there’s always been this gap between his assessment of his abilities and American commanders’ saying he’s not up to it. As president, faced with that difference between what he says he can do and what the commanders say he can do, how would you choose between them?
Iraq is a sovereign country. Not just according to me, but according to George Bush and John McCain. So ultimately our presence there is at their invitation, and their policy decisions have to be taken into account. I also think that Maliki recognizes that they’re going to need our help for some time to come, as our commanders insist, but that the help is of the sort that is consistent with the kind of phased withdrawal that I have promoted. We’re going to have to provide them with logistical support, intelligence support. We’re going to have to have a very capable counterterrorism strike force. We’re going to have to continue to train their Army and police to make them more effective.
You’ve been talking about those limited missions for a long time. Having gone there and talked to both diplomatic and military folks, do you have a clearer idea of how big a force you’d need to leave behind to fulfill all those functions?
I do think that’s entirely conditions-based. It’s hard to anticipate where we may be six months from now, or a year from now, or a year and a half from now.
Team McCain points to Bob Novak’s column this week citing unnamed Obama advisors as saying this could mean leaving as many as 50,000 troops in place. According to a recent essay by Colin Kahl, who runs Obama’s working group on Iraq, in the “near term” they might keep as many as 12 brigades there for “overwatch,” i.e. support, duties.
So that's what Obama means by "immediate withdrawal". Now I get it...Finally, I have not been able to do much blogging because I am buried in work; but I did not want to leave out Bob Owens, who reported the other day (also via Blackfive) that the soldiers in Afghanistan were anything but impressed with Obama's Incredible Lightness of (Intelligent) Being:
Perhaps Obama now has a bit more insight as why the troops choose to watch FOX...
Blackfive posted this email yesterday and has another supporting account (added below in an update) from another member of the military who was also present during Obama's carefully scripted P.R. World Tour.
I think you should read it.Hello everyone,
As you know I am not a very political person. I just wanted to pass along that Senator Obama came to Bagram Afghanistan for about an hour on his visit to "The War Zone". I wanted to share with you what happened. He got off the plan[sic] and got into a bullet proof vehicle, got to the area to meet with the Major General (2 Star) who is the commander here at Bagram. As the Soldiers where lined up to shake his hand he blew them off and didn't say a word as he went into the conference room to meet the General. As he finished, the vehicles took him to the ClamShell (pretty much a big top tent that military personnel can play basketball or work out in with weights) so he could take his publicity pictures playing basketball. He again shunned the opportunity to talk to Soldiers to thank them for their service. So really he was just here to make a showing for the American's back home that he is their candidate for President. I think that if you are going to make an effort to come all the way over here you would thank those that are providing the freedom that they are providing for you. I swear we got more thanks from the NBA Basketball Players or the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders than from one of the Senators, who wants to be the President of the United States. I just don't understand how anyone would want him to be our Commander-and-Chief. It was almost that he was scared to be around those that provide the freedom for him and our great country.
If this is blunt and to the point I am sorry but I wanted you all to know what kind of caliber of person he really is. What you see in the news is all fake.
I guess it should come as little surprise, then, that Obama has dropped meetings with U.S. soldiers stationed in Germany—including wounded soldiers from the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan— in favor of meeting with French and German civilians.
Priorities, you know.
The second email from a member of the military in Iraq , forwarded to me from Blackfive:I had a first hand view of Barrack Obama's "fact finding" mission, when he passed through this base.
While I can't name it, it's one of the largest air bases in the region, with up to 8000 troops (depending on influxes and transients in mobilization/demobilization status), mostly Airmen and Soldiers, but some Marines, Sailors, Koreans, Japanese, Aussies, Brits, US Civil Service, contractors including KBR, Blackwater and Halliburton, among others in the news. The overwhelming majority of all of these are professional, courteous and disciplined.
Problems are rare.
Casualties are also rare. This base has a large hospital for evacuation—twenty plus beds. I have yet to see a casualty in one, though I am told there are about three evacuations a week through this region, of which two on average are things like sports injuries, vehicle accidents or duty related falls and such. You can tell from the news that the war is going well. The ghouls are now focusing on Afghanistan, since there is no blood to type with here.
This oped is of course subjective and limited, but I will try to present the facts as I saw them. I wasn't able to see much, which makes a point all by itself.
When his plane arrived (also containing Senators Reed and Hagel, but the news has hardly mentioned them), there was a "ramp freeze." This means if you are on the flight line, and not directly involved with the event in question, you stay where you are and don't move. For a combat flight arriving or departing, this takes about ten minutes, and involves the active runway and crossing taxiways only. For Obama's flight, this took 90 minutes, during which time a variety of military missions came grinding to a halt. Obviously, this visit was important, right?
95% of base wanted nothing to do with him. I have met three troops who support him, and literally hundreds who regard him as a buffoon, a charlatan, a hindrance to their mission or a flat out enemy of progress. Even when the rumors were publicly admitted, almost no one left their duty sections to try to see him, unless they were officers whose presence was officially required.
Mister Obama's motorcade drove up from the flight line and entered the dining hall toward the end of lunch time. Diners were chased out and told to make other arrangements for food, in the middle of the duty day.
Now, there are close to 8000 troops on the base and its nearby satellites. No one came up from the Army side (except perhaps a few ranking officers). The airbase resumed operation, once he cleared the flightline, as if nothing had happened. The dining hall holds about 300 people and was not full. The troops did not want to meet him and the feeling was apparently mutual. In attendance, besides the Official Entourage, were the base's senior officers, some support personnel, and a very few carefully vetted supporters who'd made special arrangements. No photos were allowed. No question and answer with the troops. No real acknowledgment that the troops existed.
Obama left around 1530, during the Muslim Call to Prayer, so he's not a practicing Muslim. He was in a convoy guarded by (so I'm told) both State Department and Secret Service Personnel.
Less than three hours…
Within 48 hours he was in Afghanistan. It takes most troops longer than that to in-process and get cleared on safety, threats, policies and such. Yet he somehow made a strategic summary by not talking to anyone and not seeing anything.
Twenty-four hours after that, he was in Kuwait, back here, and then home, so fast we didn't even know he arrived the second time at this base.
I can't imagine any officer of the few he met told him anything other than what they tell the troops, and what their own leadership at the Pentagon tell them—we're winning. Our troops are stomping the guts out of the insurgency. The surge worked and is working. If the insurgents have to divert to Afghanistan, it means they can't fight in Iraq anymore. We should not change the rules and retreat with the enemy on the ropes as we did in Vietnam. We should finish kicking their teeth in. The Iraqi government now controls 10 of 18 provinces, with US assistance in the rest. Let us win the war. 90% of the troops I know, even those opposed to the war, say that is the way to win. Victory comes from winning, not from "change." In fact, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is on record as opposing Obama's strategic theory.
Since he obviously knew in advance that's what they'd tell him, and since he didn't care to talk to the troops (we're told by the Left that the troops are horrified, shocked, forced to commit atrocities with tears in their eyes, distraught, burned out, fed up with losing, etc) and find out how they feel, and was barely in country long enough to need a shower and a change of clothes, we can only call this for what it is.
A disgraceful PR stunt, using the troops as a platform for his ego and campaign.
In comparison, I've seen four star generals and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on this base. They each held an all ranks call, met with and briefed the personnel, and took questions on every subject from tour length to uniform design to rules of engagement to weapon choice to long term policy, from the newest airmen to the senior NCO with TEN 120-180 day tours since Sep 11. It's very clear they want to know what the troops think, and to keep them informed of events. It's equally clear mister Obama does not.
From here we must move to my op part of the oped.
Obama clearly doesn't care about the troops, doesn't care about America, doesn't care about anything except hearing his own voice and the chance to sit at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue…From where he'll bring us the proven Democratic wartime leadership of Bosnia and the Balkans (US forces still there), Somalia (US forces prevailed despite being ill equipped by executive order, and taking heavy casualties), Haiti (what were we doing there again?), Desert One (oops?), Vietnam (where we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory), Korea (still there), WWI, and the fluke success of WWII won by such wonderful liberal notions as concentration camps for Japanese Americans, nukes, FBI investigations of waitresses who dated soldiers in case they were "morally corrupt" and the (valid) occupation of and continued presence in Italy, Japan and Germany for 60 years, which they are conveniently pretending won't happen with Iraq.
That's not "change." That's "failure we can do without."
Update: Second-day coverage continues here.