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July 30, 2007

Walking the Walk

...combined with talking the talk. Amazing concept, n'est pas? As the Blogfaddah noted, Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institute had a joint NYT Op-Ed piece this morning, with a pretty astounding headline:

A War We Just Might Win

But major dad and I already knew his opinions had taken a remarkable turn because of his appearance this weekend on CNN's This Week at War. My immediate reaction was, "Has CNN lost their collective minds broadcasting something this positive?"
...FOREMAN: So what's the real situation on the ground? Arwa Damon is in our Baghdad bureau. CNN military analyst Brigadier David Grange, U.S. Army retired joins us from Chicago and here in Washington Michael O'Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, just back from Iraq. Michael, let me start with you. The basic question, is the surge working?

MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: In military terms, yes. Two big reasons, one, we are doing very well against al Qaeda in Iraq. I don't want to jump into this whole debate about whether they're taking orders from Osama bin Laden or not, but they have an extreme ideology and they have gone so far that the Sunni-Arab tribes are now fighting against them. I walked through the streets of Ramadi a couple of days ago without body armor. That city is turned around, 95 percent reduction of violence because the Sunni sheikhs and tribes are with us now against al Qaeda. That's going great. The sectarian violence much less well resolved so far, but at least we've put a bit of a cap or a lid on it with our greater troop strength. So that's the more long-term problem.

But the fight against al Qaeda is going brilliantly at the moment.

Wow and I mean WOW. We guessed CNN had not completely given up their agenda, as the actual CNN Baghdad correspondent (ARWA DAMON) was trying mightily to throw cold water on everything O'Hanlon said.
...FOREMAN: Arwa, is there a sense in Baghdad on the ground that that's exactly what's happening?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tom, actually not when you speak to the Iraqi people. In fact, most of those that I've spoken to will not really say that they feel that the situation is getting better. Remember, they're not measuring their own security in terms of numbers of U.S. casualties or numbers of bodies that were found unidentified throughout the entire capital. They are measuring their sense of whether or not things are getting better by the level of comfort with which they can leave their homes. For most Iraqis, they are still just as petrified of falling victim of sectarian violence or any other sort of attack that could take place in the capital today as they were before the surge began.

Her negativity was surprisingly countered repeatedly by the strength of O'Hanlon's statements (bolstered, of course, by the fact that he has been on the ground there) and the show's military consultant's pointing out of the obvious ~ that you can't change the fundamental public viewpoint until you prove you mean what you're about. Trust takes time.
...FOREMAN: General Grange, militarily why is this working now? Is it a different approach or is it just the sheer numbers of the surge?

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think it's something to do with numbers, but it's really the new strategy. And it's funny you hear the debates going on politically about we need a new strategy. We need a new strategy. In fact, there is a new strategy. It was just really implemented full force mid June. So it has to have a little bit of time to work, and I think the new strategy of clear, hold and build - in other words, once you go in the area and you do what you have to do against any adversaries, you start to give people some confidence in the security forces whether it be U.S. or Iraqi and then you actually show you're going to improve the lifestyle of the area, the quality of life. You start to get in locales, these different locales, a sense of achievement and improvement. I think that's what's happening.

Tangible improvements already and all the 'surge' elements have only been in place and implemented in full for a little under two months.

On the whole, it was remarkable media exercise, even buried on the weekend as it was. I'm glad O'Hanlon puts his name to it on paper.

Posted by tree hugging sister at July 30, 2007 12:48 PM


His positive spin is very good, but limited to the military operations. And as Jules Crittenden notes, O’Hanlon and Pollack certainly can't make up their minds about committment.

But the sun certainly rose in the west today, didn't it?

Posted by: The_Real_JeffS at July 30, 2007 02:25 PM

Thanks for the email Beege, I added it, linked it, but it wouldn't let me trackback, so I want to say thanks!!!

Posted by: spree at July 30, 2007 03:04 PM