Posted by Curt on 16 October, 2007 at 8:09 am. 24 comments already!

Just incredible.


The Washington Post
prints an editorial by 12 former United States Captains who have served in Iraq in which they state Iraq is going to hell in an handbasket:

What does Iraq look like on the ground? It’s certainly far from being a modern, self-sustaining country. Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition. Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems than before the war. And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.

Iraq’s institutional infrastructure, too, is sorely wanting. Even if the Iraqis wanted to work together and accept the national identity foisted upon them in 1920s, the ministries do not have enough trained administrators or technicians to coordinate themselves. At the local level, most communities are still controlled by the same autocratic sheiks that ruled under Saddam. There is no reliable postal system. No effective banking system. No registration system to monitor the population and its needs.

The inability to govern is exacerbated at all levels by widespread corruption. Transparency International ranks Iraq as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And, indeed, many of us witnessed the exploitation of U.S. tax dollars by Iraqi officials and military officers. Sabotage and graft have had a particularly deleterious impact on Iraq’s oil industry, which still fails to produce the revenue that Pentagon war planners hoped would pay for Iraq’s reconstruction. Yet holding people accountable has proved difficult. The first commissioner of a panel charged with preventing and investigating corruption resigned last month, citing pressure from the government and threats on his life.

Against this backdrop, the U.S. military has been trying in vain to hold the country together. Even with “the surge,” we simply do not have enough soldiers and marines to meet the professed goals of clearing areas from insurgent control, holding them securely and building sustainable institutions. Though temporary reinforcing operations in places like Fallujah, An Najaf, Tal Afar, and now Baghdad may brief well on PowerPoint presentations, in practice they just push insurgents to another spot on the map and often strengthen the insurgents’ cause by harassing locals to a point of swayed allegiances. Millions of Iraqis correctly recognize these actions for what they are and vote with their feet — moving within Iraq or leaving the country entirely. Still, our colonels and generals keep holding on to flawed concepts.

Only problem is that none of these 12 Captains have been in Iraq for over a year. Some haven’t been there since 2005. But somehow we should listen to their opinion on the ground instead of those who over there right now?

Come on.

Jason Blindauer 2005
Elizabeth Bostwick 2004
Jeffrey Bouldin 2006
Jason Bugajski 2004
Anton Kemps  2005
Kristy (Luken) McCormick 2003
Luis Carlos Montalván 2005
William Murphy 2005
Josh Rizzo 2006
William “Jamie” Ruehl 2004
Gregg Tharp 2005
Gary Williams 2003

While I am grateful to their service I think the WaPo readers would be better served by those who have been there since the surge started, since the daily drumbeat of defeat had slowly slipped away from the pages of the MSM. 

J.R. Dunn writes a great piece at The American Thinker today in which he explores how various wars end, and how important it is that a victory in war is acknowledged and handled well.  He spends much of the article writing on past victories, and victories that were treated as defeats by our media, and then meshes the two on Iraq:

Now we’re achieving the real thing, on the most massive scale. The major element of the “insurrection” (an unsatisfactory term, but does anyone have one better?), the Al-Queda, is being chewed to pieces. The new “surge” strategy — actually a classic counterinsurgency strategy similar to that utilized in the final years in Vietnam — has proven itself as clearly as any on record. The enemy has been unable to respond, and is on the run wherever engaged. The Sunnis have been coming over in ever-increasing numbers, fulfilling one of the basic requirements of a successful counterinsurgency effort: the full cooperation of the civilian population. A serious reconciliation has been blooming between the newly-dominant Shi’ites and Sunni minority.

Barring unforeseen setbacks, the Coalition appears to be set to prevail. (A number of critics newly cognizant of counterinsurgency are pointing out that it takes years for such an effort to succeed, overlooking the unique aspects of the Iraq situation: the “insurrection” is actually a form of invasion by outside forces, namely Al-Queda. Destroy them, end the invasion, and the “insurrection” becomes a matter of bandits and diehards, easily handled by domestic Iraqi troops.)

And how is all this being depicted? It isn’t. Early coverage of the surge emphasized how it could go wrong. A “September surprise”, a sudden rise in casualties prior to General Petreaus’s report to Congress, was predicted. Discord between Iraq factions was emphasized. Several Jihadi “offensives” were announced. None of it came to anything. No “surprise” occurred. The factions are, for the moment, reconciled. Al-Queda offensives, if they ever existed, fizzled out.

And in recent weeks… almost nothing. Suddenly, Iraq is not a topic. Achievements in the field have gone unmentioned in a media that couldn’t get enough of car bombs, IEDs, massacres, and assassinations. The focus has shifted to the domestic: the endless campaign, bogus “health-care” bills, Al Gore’s latest prize. If Iraq is mentioned at all, it’s in the context of scandal, as in the Blackwater shooting incident, quite serious in and of itself, but nothing to overshadow the events of the past three months. It’s as if news of Pvt. Eddie Slovik’s execution overwhelmed any mention of the Allied advance into Germany.

We will see more of this. Last Friday, the New York Times, which has granted no meaningful coverage to the surge, featured no less than three stories dealing with civilian casualties. Reportage of a speech by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez ignored his criticism of the media’s role in Iraq (or the fact that he calls for redoubling our efforts there), in favor of his attacks on the administration’s war efforts. Last week the UN demanded not greater support for the newly-invigorated Iraqi government, but an investigation into the Blackwater incident.   

There are muted lanterns in the graveyard, the clink of shovels on gravel. Victory in Iraq, one of the hardest-fought in recent American history, is being buried before our eyes.

Unfortunately its the kind of editorials printed by the WaPo that is the dirt which buries our victory.  They find 12 Captains who are not even in our military anymore, who have not been to Iraq in years, to write a woe-is-me piece on Iraq and in so doing they do their part to bury the accomplishments by our country’s brightest.

UPDATE

Take the time to read Michael Yon’s latest dispatch on the achievements seen on the ground.

UPDATE II

ChrisG, a active duty Major with experience in Iraq has a few comments on these 12:

Ok, since they use their names and ranks, I had to check Army Knowledge Online to see how many are actually IN the Armed Forces. The amount of phoney soldiers the left rolls out makes me question everything.

Here is what I found.

  • Jason Blindauer: O-3, IRR (Individual Ready Reserve)
  • Elizabeth Bostwick: O-3, IRR
  • Jeffrey Bouldin: O-3, IRR
  • Jason Bugajski: DoD Contractor
  • Anton Kemps: COL, AR Reserves (No captains with this name)
  • Kristy (Luken) McCormick: No record on AKO
  • Luis Carlos Montalván: IRR
  • William Murphy: (four: 2xCPTs and 2xMajors): All either Guard, Reserve, or retired
  • Josh Rizzo: O-3, IRR (Record Incomplete on AKO)
  • William “Jamie” Ruehl: No record on AKO
  • Gregg Tharp: No record on AKO
  • Gary Williams: One CPT (O-3) in the National Guard, 2x Maj (O-4) one retired, one in Reserves

So most are IRR, a FEW are NG or Reserves, and some have no record on AKO. One is only listed as a contractor.

Telling

Ok, this is from an active duty major (me) who was in Iraq in 2007 and works closely with the reconstruction effort.

Let us take a look at their statements:

“Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition.”

Most roads in the M.E. are just above goat-trails. However much work has been done since and many roads are in fairly good conditions. Urban areas are much better than rural areas for roads, but where are they not?

“Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems than before the war.”

I am sick and tired of this lie. A lot of surface water in Iraq is polluted beyond belief by chemical agents (Hey
leftists, guess WHAT chemicals! Common, guess. I’ll help. One is mustard and not what you put on tofu hotdogs. You can keep guessing. Try thinking of chemicals with a VX or a GB in them). Now that said, hundreds of wells have been dug. Water treatment plants have been erected. NOT repaired, erected. Saddam used water to keep his serfs in line. Most of these people NEVER HAD RUNNING WATER. Far more do now.

“And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.”

Wow, another whopper that was partially true 3 years ago. In 2007, Baghdad is lit up all night. Several power stations are old and belch out heavy pollution, but there are power stations. Like water, Saddam used electricity as a means of control. Unfortunately, power lines are easy targets for those wanting the world to live in the 7th century.

Now taking the next paragraph, WELCOME TO THE MIDDLE EAST! This is how much of the region is “governed”. Until the discovery and production of oil by the Europeans, much of the region was nomadic.
Quite a few still are. The Shias do not have much governing experience, but are learning. The Iraqi Parliament, while not equal to Western “standards” (that we do not hold our own congress to), is trying very
hard to get better. Saddam fascist government (they were real fascists, not the leftist fantasy kind) ruled with an iron fist and made up statistics to suit their needs, NOT the population’s needs. That is slowly changing.

Next.

Had to research Transparency International and they really do exist. They have low confidence in Iraq, but much more in Afghanistan. They do not have confidence in Iraq’s corruption. Wow, big news: Middle East
Countries are Corrupt!!! Even the IRS knows this. The difference is, unlike much of the other bottom 100 on this group’s list, Iraq is trying to move from the bottom up. What are the rest doing? It is a monumental effort, but not unheard of. If one wants corruption, look to the US Shipping ports, construction companies, Lobby groups, several PACs, etc. IF the left is SOOOO concerned about corruption, why are William Jefferson, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Boxer, and many others still in congress?

“Sabotage and graft have had a particularly deleterious impact on Iraq’s oil industry, which still fails to produce the revenue that Pentagon war planners hoped would pay for Iraq’s reconstruction.”

Using which numbers? Iraq is buying more and more of it’s own equipment. They are buying everything from garbage trucks to military items, to medicine. Yes, it would be nice if Saddam had not violated almost every
section of the 1991 Cease Fire and allowed his country to move into the 20th century (yes it is the 21st but I am realistic about the M.E.). Iraq also has a fledgling oil profit sharing program in place (put in early 2007). This makes Iraq the FIRST ARAB Country to do this. Iraq, NOT the USA, controls Iraqi oil and just began shipping large amounts out this year. This represents a HUGE change from 1991-2003 when billions of dollars in Iraq was swindled in the “Oil for Food” disaster. Really it was the “Oil for Gold Toilets” and the “Oil for brand new T-72 tanks” program.

“Though temporary reinforcing operations in places like Fallujah, An Najaf, Tal Afar, and now Baghdad may brief well on PowerPoint presentations, in practice they just push insurgents to another spot on
the map and often strengthen the insurgents’ cause by harassing locals to a point of swayed allegiances.”

Obviously the IRR does not get updated briefings. Anbar Province, once considered totally lost, is NOT a small area. AQ forces are being slaughtered BY IRAQIS. But that does not please the left and the Media.
I do not buy the line that “defeatism sells papers”. The declining sales and ratings of MSM outlets and papers SHOULD prove this to them, but then, like Hollywood, we see that it is NOT about the money, but
about the ideology.

UPDATE III

From Matt H:

The author of the piece is Jason Blindauer. The others may have signed it but he wrote it. It appears his motivation for the op-ed is his continuing quest to see a draft initiated in the US. Here is his website

The WaPo piece is very similar to his other editorials. Oh, and he is an affiliate of Votevets.

UPDATE IV

From Patterico’s Pontifications:

Jason Blindauer: Xavier University, 2001. Served in Iraq as a US Army Ranger, 2003 and 2005. But here is something he wrote in Nov. 2006:

http://www.xavier.edu/newswire/editions/061108/oped.htm

Last week though, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki ordered U.S. Forces to shut down checkpoints around Sadr City and halt the operation aimed at finding a kidnapped U.S. solider, and our commander-in-chief acquiesced. Why? …. Some supporters of the president have intimated that the soldier deserved his fate because he snuck out of the Green Zone without authorization, only to be kidnapped shortly thereafter in Baghdad’s Karada neighborhood…. U.S. servicemen have been suffering the foolishness and bad decisions of this resident and his Secretary of Defense for the last five years. I believe that loyalty should be repaid in kind…. As for our president, what did he get out of this Faustian pact? Perhaps he gets to hold Iraq together for a few more weeks and steer his party through the November elections. Then what? Do we continue our failed strategy? “Search and destroy” and “in and out” didn’t work in Vietnam, and of course it hasn’t worked in Iraq…. Like most Americans, I have that 1968 kind of feeling. Even if the president changes our Iraq policy after the election, anything less than passing some form of conscription and pumping the active-duty Army up to well over a million soldiers is a half measure.

Once again this thing is turning out to be nothing but a biased piece of reporting from our MSM.  When do you think we will get the editorial from active duty servicemen and women who have been in Iraq recently and actually tell us about all the improvements going on over there?

Don’t hold your breath waiting on our MSM>

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