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Monday, July 30, 2007

Bush Critics Report Real Progress in Iraq

Michael E. O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack of the Brookings Institution, a liberal public policy think tank based in Washington, D.C., have returned from eight days in Iraq and have written an op-ed in today's New York Times. Their main point might surprise some people.
We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw...
According to O'Hanlon and Pollack, as a result of the recent troop surge, progress is being made and morale is high.
Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

O'Hanlon and Pollack provided some examples of the difference being made.

In Ramadi... we talked with an outstanding Marine captain whose company was living in harmony in a complex with a (largely Sunni) Iraqi police company and a (largely Shiite) Iraqi Army unit...

In Baghdad’s Ghazaliya neighborhood, which has seen some of the worst sectarian combat, we walked a street slowly coming back to life with stores and shoppers...

We traveled to the northern cities of Tal Afar and Mosul. This is an ethnically rich area, with large numbers of Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens. American troop levels in both cities now number only in the hundreds because the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate....

While democrat leaders in Congress continue to attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by calling for the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, O’Hanlon and Pollack conclude that "there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008."

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