First, here is a link to a great series at the military blog The Long War Journal about the political progress in Iraq that is not being reported by the mass media: Inside Iraqi Politics
“Inside Iraqi Politics” is a special series dedicated to examining political progress in Iraq, with a focus on issues that affect the country’s stability and the reconciliation between ethnic and religious sects. The product of more than a dozen interviews with American and Iraqi officials and months of research, the series presents a more comprehensive view of factors that slow progress beyond sectarian interest, including the rapid growth of the government, administrative inexperience, corruption, and the structure of the executive and legislative branches outlined in the Iraqi Constitution.
Part 1: Examining the Iraqi executive branch
The first installment overviews broad political goals and various influences on progress by the executive branch, including the design of the government under the Iraqi Constitution, Iraqi administrative experience, rapid growth, and corruption.
Part 2: A look at executive branch progress
The second installment examines the efforts by Iraq’s executive branch to improve services and achieve reconciliation, including an in-depth profile of the Iraqi Implementation and Follow-Up Committee for National Reconciliation and the Baghdad Services Committee, special bodies appointed by Prime Minister Maliki.
Part 3: Examining the Iraqi legislative branch
The third installment examines the structure and political composition of the Iraqi legislative branch, including a review of sectarian distribution and major political blocs within the Council of Representatives.
Part 4. A look at legislative progress: Reconciliation via wealth distribution
The fourth installment begins examination of legislative progress, specifically the status of key legislation that distributes the country’s wealth, including the 2008 budget and the oil law.
Part 5. A look at legislative progress: Sunnis’ and states’ rights
The fifth installment reviews further pieces of legislation considered important for stability and reconciliation: the Unified Retirement Law, de-Baathification reform, the General Amnesty Law, the referendum on Kirkuk, the Provincial Powers Act and the Provincial Elections Law.
Anti-Idiotarian Blogs covering the Iraq Testimony:
Michelle Malkin: Petraeus on the Hill; Dems can’t control Code Pinkos; Idiot Sen. Levin calls Petraeus “Admiral;” Update: Petraeus recommends 45-day pause on troop reductions in July; Update: Aggressive Levin heckles Petraeus, allows outside heckler to pile on; Update: Sen. Lieberman lashes back at “See no progress” Democrats; Update: Another McCain Shia/Sunni flub?; Update: Petraeus slides added
Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit: Petraeus Reports Great News From Iraq… Dems Stumble
Kevin Mooney at Newsbusters interview with Vets for Freedom’s Pete Hegseth: Vets for Freedom Hope to Impact Media and Political Class
Military Blogs covering the Iraq Testimony:
John Lilyea at This Ain’t Hell, But You Can See it From Here (Lots of pictures and FIVE YouTube video accounts of speeches and interviews): Vets for Freedom Rally for troops
Curt at Flopping Aces: Iraq Testimony On The Hill
Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive: National Heroes Tour- Vets on the Hill
Uncle Jimbo’s YouTube video coverage (8 minutes): National Heroes Tour- Vets on the Hill
Vets for Freedom brought 450+ of it’s Iraq and Afghanistam vets to DC to talk to their Congressional Reps and Senators. They are asking that our troops be allowed to win. John McCain and Lindsey Graham as well as about 10 other Congress people spoke as well as Dave Bellavia and Steve Russell.
Herschel Smith at The Captain’s Journal: Of Swine, Hyenas and Generals: The Petraeus Testimony
Deebow at Blackfive: My Dad Always Told me…
[ … ] For those that were in Civics class and not in Study Hall, you may remember that starting long about 1775, we declared our independence, fought a war, won it, and still had to form a government afterward. The fact that Nancy can pay zero attention to even our own history and can run her neck on and on about how the consecrated, hallowed ground in Iraq is unworthy of our sacrifice in the name of the freedom of others (something I thought the Dems were for) and not be dragged into the street and beaten is beyond me.
OK, minus the history lesson, the reason I am so pissed is because I was able to find Speaker Pelosi’s traitorous remarks without any real effort, but I had to work hard to find any good stories about General Petraeus and his testimony, or any story about Mike Monsoor today. Two men whose stories deserve to be seen and heard by as many Americans as possible.
Dadmanly: Vets on the Hill, Part I
Meanwhile, since they cannot debate the military issues on the facts and merits, the Left does what it always does and uses petty, immature personal attacks. No surprise: Now The Left Complains About The Number Of Medals Worn By Our Military Leaders
And of course anything to do with the military cannot be complete without an appearance from the Commie Pinko hags of CODE PINK.
First, let’s get the depressing bullcrap out of the way. Here is what the Democrat Party thinks of the progress and success accomplished by our men and women of the United States military in Iraq:
[ … ] The president said that last year, particularly at the end, “has become incredibly successful beyond anybody’s expectations.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., took issue. “It is a failure of leadership when our president calls 2007 incredibly successful beyond anybody’s expectations when the Iraqi government has done so little to achieve stability and it has been the most lethal year yet for American troops,” they said in a statement.
But, do not forget, they ‘support the troops’ and we should never, ever question their patriotism.
Of course let us not forget what the Democrats were saying about the plan for Iraq last year:
“It’s interesting. We have had, this week, the colonel in charge of Anbar Province say that it’s a civil war; it’s been lost.”
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
September 13, 2006
“I oppose an escalation of U.S. troops, which I do not believe will contribute to long-term success in Iraq.”
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
January 18, 2007
The article referenced below outlines exactly what I’ve been saying over the past two years — “We haven’t been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically — and that’s where wars are won and lost.”
Rep. John Murtha (D-PA)
Quoting a Washington Post Article
September 11, 2006
“The violence in Anbar has gone down despite the surge, not because of the surge. The inability of American soldiers to protect these tribes from al-Qaida said to these tribes, ‘We have to fight al-Qaida ourselves.’ It wasn’t that the surge brought peace here.”
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
September 4, 2007
But, again, don’t you dare question their patriotism or their faith in and support of the United States military.
But anyway, now on to some analysis from people who do not have their heads shoved firmly and snugly up their effing asses…
Gateway Pundit: SURGE SUCCESS!!… Anbar Province Will Be Handed Over In March
Gateway Pundit: Iraqi Newspapers Go On Attack Against Al-Qaeda
Gateway Pundit: 64,000 Iraqis Return Home From Syria
Jules Crittenden: Fixing Potholes
Michael Yon: Moment of Truth in Iraq
[ … ] There’s only a small group of writers who honestly spend enough time in Iraq to make serious claims based on firsthand accounts. But I’ve seen the Iraqi Army with my own eyes. I’ve done many missions in 2005 and 2007, in many places in Iraq, along with the Iraqi Army: please believe me when I say that, on the whole, the Iraqi Army is remarkably better in 2007 and far more effective than it was in 2005. By 2007, the Iraqis were doing most of the fighting. And . . . this is very important . . . they see our Army and Marines as serious allies, and in many cases as friends. Please let the potential implications of that sink in.
We now have a large number of American and British officers who can pick up a phone from Washington or London and call an Iraqi officer that he knows well — an Iraqi he has fought along side of — and talk. Same with untold numbers of Sheiks and government officials, most of whom do not deserve the caricatural disdain they get most often from pundits who have never set foot in Iraq. British and American forces have a personal relationship with Iraqi leaders of many stripes. The long-term intangible implications of the betrayal of that trust through the precipitous withdrawal of our troops could be enormous, because they would be the certain first casualties of renewed violence, and selling out the Iraqis who are making an honest-go would make the Bay of Pigs sell-out seem inconsequential. The United States and Great Britain would hang their heads in shame for a century.
[ … ]
Throughout most of 2007, as I’ve watched General Petraeus’ strategy being implemented, I have observed the impact his change in strategy was having on our soldiers, on Iraqi security forces, and most importantly, on Iraqi people including some who were formerly our avowed enemies. I have seen how our own military morphed into something much more agile, and I came to see how American commanders tended to be the most trusted voices in Iraq for many Iraqis.
To be sure, the “Anbar Awakening” and other signs of progress were underway before the massive strategy overhaul occurred, and nobody can track and trace all the factors involved in this fantastically complex war, but one thing was certain: the momentum was shifting in favor of a stable Iraq for the first time. The institutional knowledge reservoir was becoming vast, and success was touted and shared. It may have been true that Americans knew very little about Iraq before the invasion, but it was for certain that American commanders had now developed an intimate understanding of the goings-on. It can be said with confidence that as a group, no non-Iraqis know more about Iraq than the US military.
Michael Totten: The Rings on Zarqawi’s Finger
For all the hatred in the Middle East, there is also forgiveness, and moderation. Where are the moderate Muslims? ask many Americans. I find the question bizarre. I meet them every day in Iraq, and everywhere else in the Middle East, too. The problem is they have a hard time getting attention in newspapers and magazines that wallow in sensationalism.
“What happened before, happened,” said Omar, returning to the discussion of the American invasion with the Iraqi Police. “One mistake was committed, but it’s gone. Let’s just close it and not keep analyzing the same problem again. According to our analysis, American troops are now here to help Iraq.”
Sheik Abdul Sattar Abu Risha made similar points, a bit more eloquently, to Johns Hopkins University Professor Fouad Ajami: “Our American friends had not understood us when they came. They were proud, stubborn people and so were we. They worked with the opportunists, now they have turned to the tribes, and this is as it should be. The tribes hate religious parties and religious fakers.”
“We have promised to work with the Americans against Al Qaeda,” Ahmed continued. “And that’s it. That is all we are allowed to say about politics. But I can say that I feel the sincerity in the American support for the Iraqi civilians here. I am not going to say any bad words about Americans. I can feel that they really are eager to accomplish that mission.”
Bill Roggio: Operation Phantom Phoenix Targets al Qaeda Havens
Despite the recent success in reducing the violence in Iraq, the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq and the Shia extremist terror groups is not over. Coalition and Iraqi forces have launched Operation Phantom Phoenix, a new operation targeting the terror groups throughout Iraq.
The scope of Phantom Phoenix is nationwide. The operation is “a series of joint Iraqi and Coalition division- and brigade-level operations to pursue and neutralize remaining al-Qaeda in Iraq and other extremist elements,” Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, the commander of Multinational Corps Iraq stated. “Phantom Phoenix will synchronize lethal and non-lethal effects to exploit recent security gains and disrupt terrorist support zones and enemy command and control.”
The specific geographical locations targeted during Phantom Phoenix were not identified. Iraqi and Coalition forces will “pursue al-Qaeda and other extremists wherever they attempt to take sanctuary,” Odierno said.
Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive: Blackfive TV- Surge Anniversary & Big Bombing Day
John McCain and Joe Lieberman: The Surge Worked
Rudy Giuliani: War on Terror Conversations: Rudolph Giuliani [Video]
Deebow at Blackfive: Why am I only hearing about this now?
Subsunk at Blackfive: The Finest Ambassadors
[ … ] But it is a lesson which we need not have learned over and over again over the course of the last 7 years in our endeavors to change the radical Islamic approach to coexistence (“Good Muslims rule and Infidels and Apostates die” might be the simplest way to put that).
The Finest Ambassador from America will always be a United States Soldier with a rifle in one hand and candy in the other. No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy is a philosophy which is known and understood throughout the World. Even by Islamofascists.
“While we will move swiftly and aggressively against those who resist, we will treat all others with decency, demonstrating chivalry and soldierly compassion for people who have endured a lifetime under Saddam’s oppression.” Got that?
Although imperfectly executed sometimes over the intervening years (as Mike Yon points out), you can plainly see that the underlying strategy involved in winning over our enemies has not changed one iota since the war began. Give a decent American soldier a chance to set the example, and the whole world will eventually beat its way towards your line of thought.
Any more talk of Defeat and Retreat merely means the Dhimmicrats and cowardly Rethuglicans of the same stripe don’t care if they undo everything the American Fighting Man has done over the last 6 years. More blood doesn’t mean a thing to them as long as they get reelected. Men will insist the War be Won and brought to an end the only way it can end. With a Victory.
Matt Burden at Blackfive: Operations Continue…
Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard: They Can’t Handle the Truth – The Democrats and the Surge
And finally, hear from the Man of the Year himself, GEN David Petraeus [via Steve Schippert at NRO THE TANK]: One Man Caucus: 7 Questions for Gen. Petraeus
In what is an excellent interview published at Foreign Policy, Italy’s RAI asked David Petraeus seven questions. His answers are very informative and easy for average Americans to wrap their heads around, sans often wonkish and technical counterinsurgency lingo that so often loses many right out of the gate in such discussions.
General Petraeus even somewhat dispels the title of the interview, “Seven Questions: Gen. David Petraeus on Winding down the Surge.” He notes that it is proper to be more precise and note that it is a draw down of American forces in ‘The Surge,” but that with increasing Iraqi roles, “The Surge” will continue.
Once again, I encourage you to get all your military news and analysis of military matters from MILBLOGS. Journalists, politicians, political pundits and bloggers really do not know what they are talking about when it comes to military matters. They all speak about military matters through a political or ideological anti- or pro-military bias. If you want the best objective analysis, go visit the MILBLOGS.
This is amazing and wonderful to see: General Petraeus: man with a message of hope
[Found via HotAir]
The critics said it couldn’t be done, but the vision and determination of General David Petraeus have brought greater security and cause for optimism to the people of Iraq. He is The Sunday Telegraph’s Person of the Year.
For a man whose critics say he is far too fond of the television cameras, General David Petraeus, commander of US forces in Iraq, has been rather out of the limelight this Christmas.
The sprightly, media-friendly 55-year-old is not perturbed, however, that his face is no longer number one item on the US networks. As he said last week, where Iraq is concerned, “No news is good news.”
Today, we put him in the spotlight again by naming Gen Petraeus as The Sunday Telegraph’s Person of the Year, a new annual accolade to recognise outstanding individual achievement.
He has been the man behind the US troop surge over the past 10 months, the last-ditch effort to end Iraq’s escalating civil war by putting an extra 28,000 American troops on the ground.
So far, it has achieved what many feared was impossible. Sectarian killings are down. Al-Qaeda is on the run. And the two million Iraqis who fled the country are slowly returning. Progress in Iraq is relative – 538 civilians died last month. But compared with the 3,000 peak of December last year, it offers at least a glimmer of hope.
Nonetheless, why should we choose to nominate Petraeus
[ … ]
There has also been great British military leadership and bravery on display this year, not least in Helmand, where British troops are now fighting a Taliban foe as fierce as anything their American counterparts encountered in Baghdad or Fallujah.
But the reason for picking Petraeus is simple. Iraq, whatever the current crises in Afghanistan and Pakistan, remains the West’s biggest foreign policy challenge of this decade, and if he can halt its slide into all-out anarchy, Gen Petraeus may save more than Iraqi lives.
A failed Iraq would not just be a second Vietnam, nor would it just be America’s problem.
It would be a symbolic victory for al-Qaeda, a safe haven for jihadists to plot future September 11s and July 7s, and a battleground for a Shia-Sunni struggle that could draw in the entire Middle East. Our future peace and prosperity depend, in part, on fixing this mess. And, a year ago, few had much hope.
To appreciate the scale of the task Gen Petraeus took on, it is necessary to go back to February 22, 2006. Or, as Iraqis now refer to it, their own September 11. That was when Sunni-led terrorists from al-Qaeda blew up the Shia shrine in the city of Samarra, an act of provocation that finally achieved their goal of igniting sectarian civil war.
A year on, an estimated 34,000 people had been killed on either side – some of them members of the warring Sunni and Shia militias, but most innocents tortured and killed at random. US casualties continued to rise, too, but increasingly American troops became the bystanders in a religious conflict that many believed they could no longer tame.
Except, that is, for Gen Petraeus. [ … ]
And, in case you have not seen it already, here is GEN David Petreaus’ letter to the troops (via Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive):
As 2007 draws to a close, you should look back with pride on what you, your fellow troopers, our Iraqi partners, and Iraqi Coalition civilians have achieved in 2007. A year ago, Iraq was racked by horrific violence and on the brink of civil war. Now, levels of violence and civilians and military casualties are significantly reduced and hope has been rekindled in many Iraqi communities. To be sure, the progress is reversible and there is much more to be done. Nonetheless, the hard-fought accomplishments of 2007 have been substantial, and I want to thank each of you for the contributions you made to them.
In response to the challenges that faced Iraq a year ago, we and our Iraqi partners adopted a new approach. We increased our focus on securing the Iraqi people and, in some cases, delayed transition of tasks to Iraqi forces. Additional U.S. and Georgian forces were deployed to theater, the tours of U.S. unites were extended, and Iraqi forces conducted a surge of their own, generating well over 100,000 more Iraqi police and soldiers during the year so that they, too, had additional forces to execute the new approach. In places like Ramadi, Baqubah, Arab Jabour, and Baghdad, you and our Iraqi brothers fought — often house by house, block by block, and neighborhood by neighborhood — to wrest sanctuaries away from Al Qaeda-Iraq, to disrupt extremist militia elements, and to rid the streets of mafia-like criminals. Having cleared areas, you worked with Iraqis to retain them — establishing outposts in the areas we were securing, developing Iraqi Security Forces, and empowering locals to help our efforts. This approach has not been easy. It has required steadfastness in the conduct of tough offensive operations, creative solutions to the myriad problems on the ground, and persistence over the course of many months and during countless trying situations. Through it all, you have proven equal to every task, continually demonstrating an impressive ability to conduct combat and stability operations in an exceedingly complex environment.
Your accomplishments have given the Iraqi people new confidence and prompted many citizens to reject terror and confront those who practice it. As the months passed in 2007, in fact, the tribal awakening that began in Al Anbar Province spread to other parts of the country. Emboldened by improving security and tired of indiscriminate violence, extremist ideology, oppressive practices, and criminal activity, Iraqis increasingly rejected Al Qaeda-Iraq and rogue militia elements. Over time, the desire of Iraqis to contribute to their own security has manifested itself in citizens volunteering for the police, the Army, and concerned local citizen programs. It has been reflected in citizens providing information that has helped us find far more than double the number of arms and weapons caches we found last year. And it has been apparent in Iraqi communities now supporting their local security forces.
As a result of your hard work and that of our Iraqi comrades-in-arms — and with the support of the local populace in many areas — we have seen significant improvements in the security situation. The number of attacks per week is down some 60 percent from a peak in June of this year to a level last seen consistently in the early summer of 2005. With fewer attacks, we are also seeing significantly reduced loss of life. The number of civilian deaths is down by some 75 percent since its height a year ago, dropping to a level not seen since the beginning of 2006. And the number of Coalition losses is down substantially as well. We remain mindful that the past year’s progress has been purchased through the sacrifice and selfless service of all those involved and that the new Iraq must still contend with innumerable enemies and obstacles. Al Qaeda-Iraq has been significantly degraded, but it remains capable of horrific bombings. Militia extremists have been disrupted, but they retain influence in many areas. Criminals have been apprehended, but far too many still roam Iraqi streets and intimidate local citizens and Iraqi officials. We and our Iraqi partners will have to deal with each of these challenges in the New Year to keep the situation headed in the right direction.
While the progress in a number of areas is fragile, the security improvements have significantly changed the situation in many parts of Iraq. It is now imperative that we take advantage of these improvements by looking beyond the security arena and helping Iraqi military and political leaders as they develop solutions in other areas as well, solutions they can sustain over time. At the tactical level, this means an increasing focus on helping not just Iraqi Security Forces — with whom we must partner in all that we do — but also helping Iraqi governmental organizations as they endeavor to restore basic services, to create employment opportunities, to revitalize local markets, to refurbish schools, to spur local economic activity, and to keep locals involved in contributing to local security. We will have to do all of this, of course, while continuing to draw down our forces, thinning our presence, and gradually handing over responsibilities to our Iraqi partners. Meanwhile, at the national level, we will focus on helping the Iraqi Government integrate local volunteers into the Iraqi Security Forces and other employment, develop greater ministerial capacity and capability, aid displaced persons as they return, and, most importantly, take the all-important political and economic actions needed to exploit the opportunity provided by the gains in the security arena.
The pace of progress on important political actions to this point has been slower than Iraqi leaders had hoped. Still, there have been some important steps taken in recent months. Iraq’s leaders reached agreement on the Declaration of Principles for Friendship and Cooperation with the United States, which lays the groundwork for an enduring relationship between our nations. The United Nations Security Council approved Iraq’s request for a final renewal of the resolution that authorizes the Coalition to operate in Iraq. Iraq’s leaders passed an important Pension Law that not only extends retirement benefits to Iraqis previously left out but also represents the first of what we hope will be additional measures fostering national reconciliation. And Iraq’s leaders have debated at length a second reconciliation-related measure, the Accountability and Justice Bill (the de-Ba’athification Reform Law), as well as the 2008 National Budget, both which likely will be brought up for a vote in early 2008. Even so, all Iraqi participants recognize that much more must be done politically to put their country on an irreversible trajectory to national reconciliation and sustainable economic development. We will, needless to say, work closely with our Embassy teammates to support the Iraq Government as it strives to take advantage of the improved security environment by pursing political and economic progress.
The New Year will bring many changes. Substantial force rotations and adjustments already underway will continue. One Army brigade combat team and a Marine Expeditionary Unit have already redeployed without replacement. In the coming months, four additional brigades and two Marine battalions will follow suit. Throughout that time, we will continue to adapt to the security situation as it evolves. And in the midst of all the changes, we and our Iraqi partners will strive to maintain the momentum, to press the fight, and to pursue Iraq’s enemies relentlessly. Solutions to many of the tough problems will continue to be found at your level, together with local Iraqi leaders and with your Iraqi Security Force partners, in company and battalion areas of operation and in individual neighborhoods an towns. As you and your Iraqi partners turn concepts into reality, additional progress will emerge slowly and fitfully. Over time, we will gradually see fewer bad days and accumulate more good days, good weeks, and good months.
The way ahead will not be easy. Inevitably, there will be more tough days and tough weeks. Unforeseen challenges will emerge. And success will require continued hard work, commitment, and initiative from all involved. As we look to the future, however, we should remember how far we have come in the past year. Thanks to the tireless efforts and courageous actions of the Iraqi people, Iraq’s political and military leaders, the Iraqi Security Forces, and each of you, a great deal has been achieved in 2007. Thus, as we enter a new year, we and our Iraqi partners will have important accomplishments and a newfound sense of hope on which we can build.
As always, all or your leaders, our fellow citizens back home, and I deeply appreciate the dedication, professionalism, commitment, and courage you display on a daily basis. It remains the greatest of honors to serve with each of you in this critical endeavor.
David H. Petraeus
And it remains the greatest of honors to call myself an American when we have men like GEN David Petraeus and men and women in our armed forces representing the United States across the world.