July 17, 2007

Pace: Iraq Has Turned Around (Update: UN Chief Warns On Withdrawal)

General Peter Pace, the outgoing chair of the Joint Chiefs, has called the surge a success, saying that it has brought about a "sea change" in security for Iraq. Time Magazine reports on his remarks from Ramadi, which in itself demonstrates a level of success, as the Anbar Province has changed markedly from the lost cause it appeared a year ago (via Hugh Hewitt):

In his most optimistic remarks since the U.S. troop buildup began, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday that Iraq has undergone a "sea change" in security in recent months, and that this will influence his recommendation to President Bush on how long to continue the current strategy.

After conferring with Maj. Gen. Walter Gaskin and other commanders in this provincial capital west of Baghdad, Pace told reporters he has gathered a positive picture of the security environment not only here but also in Baghdad, where he began his Iraq visit on Monday.

He was asked whether this would inform his thinking about whether to continue the current strategy, with extra U.S. troops battling to security Baghdad and Anbar province. "It will because what I'm hearing now is a sea change that is taking place in many places here," he replied. "It's no longer a matter of pushing al-Qaida out of Ramadi, for example, but rather — now that they have been pushed out — helping the local police and the local army have a chance to get their feet on the ground and set up their systems."

The most remarkable part of the story shows the increasing confidence of the military that they have finally hit on the right strategy and the right leadership in Iraq. While the Senate will debate the Iraq war in an all-nighter tonight in a Democratic effort called by an aide the No Sleep Until We Retreat event, Pace talked about increasing the number of American combat troops in Iraq to push towards success more quickly. The Pentagon studies these questions as part of its contingency planning, but this is the first indication that they may see enough progress to warrant a larger investment in Iraq.

Of course, what Pace means is the military success in fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq and in clearing cities like Ramadi and Baqubah of terrorists. He also praised the work of General David Petraeus in Baghdad in clearing militia control of neighborhoods. Pace, who has not shied away from less positive remarks in the past, seems highly impressed with the results of military efforts by both American and Iraqi units under Petraeus' command.

Pace noted that these results have not prompted reform to the degree we anticipated. However, in one sense, that may become a secondary consideration. Given the nature of the threat to the US that AQI represents, the efforts in Iraq make a lot more sense -- and since they seem to be effective, it makes sense to at least continue with Petraeus' counterinsurgency efforts there. We can continue to press for political reform, but we should not toss out all of our successes so far this year in stabilizing the Sunni areas of Iraq and in the capital.

What will the Democrats have to say to Pace and the generals in Iraq about this tonight?

UPDATE: CQ reader Leo T points out that new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned the US about conducting a precipitate withdrawal from Iraq:

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged U.S. policy-makers yesterday to exercise "great caution" in considering any rapid withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq.

"It is not my place to inject myself into this discussion taking place between the American people, government and Congress," said Mr. Ban, who was expected to repeat the message during meetings on Capitol Hill today.

"But I'd like to tell you that a great caution should be taken for the sake of the Iraqi people," he said at a U.N. press conference. "Any abrupt withdrawal or decision may lead to a further deterioration."

Actually, Leo asked, "Is UN totally irrelevant, or is someone in blogosphere going to comment on SecGen’s statements re US pullout?" The answer might be "yes" to both.

Ban doesn't exactly endorse a long-term counterinsurgency effort in this statement, but he's asking the anti-war faction a question they thus have refused to answer. If the US retreats, how do they expect to keep a genocidal free-for-all from erupting in our wake? While the same people recall the collective failure in Rwanda and the ongoing genocide in Darfur -- conducted by radical Islamists -- and push for American intervention in the latter, they have no answer for the obvious calamitous consequences of an American pullout from Iraq.

Do you suppose the Democrats will address Ban's warning in tonight's marathon session?


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Comments (30)

Posted by doug in colorado | July 17, 2007 10:31 AM

They will have nothing good to say in their All-Nighter...reminds me of my college days. The Dems and their leftie friends' hearts and souls are invested in the withdrawal of American troops, the disgrace of George Bush, and walking away from an Iraq that still has a fighting chance to become a real democracy in the midst of a stinking cesspool of benighted dictatorships and "Magic Kingdoms", where to be a woman is to be little more than breeding livestock and the emotional maturity of the average citizen is arrested at about the level of a ten year old by a religion of hate and a culture of ignorance and martyrdom.

Posted by NoDonkey | July 17, 2007 10:45 AM

I sent an E-Mail to my Senator, Copperhead Webb and expressed that to build on the juvenile idea of pulling an all-nighter, the Democrats follow it up with a month-long hunger strike.

A 30 day hunger strike is the least the Democrat Congress can do for the troops and the country and I would be 100% behind it.

The irresponsible, corrupt, traitorous and incompetent Democrat Congress continues to "keep hope alive" for Al Qaeda. The Democrats, contrary to expectations, are really "making a difference" in encouraging the suicide bombers, the goat violators and the death cult emissaries of Al Qaeda.

Who elected these people and what the hell were they thinking?

Posted by The Yell | July 17, 2007 10:46 AM

They've already answered Ban before he spoke: Genocide is inevitable, and that's Bush's fault.

Harry Reid is a loon. The last thing his party can afford is an open demonstration of the circus they've made Congress. Get ready for 24 hours of arguments about the speaking clock.

Posted by Monkei | July 17, 2007 10:51 AM

Gee, things are honkey dorry, great, no wonder Secretary Nicholson just announced he was leaving the VA, nothing left to do there for him. What a wonderful job it will be for someone else to come in now with 17 months left ... just when the troops really need leadership at the VA.

We have been maling giant strides for 5 years now in Iraq ... excuse me if I want a little more proof than a Bush man saying so.

Posted by RBMN | July 17, 2007 10:51 AM

America's leftists will support the troops (enough to let them win) in Iraq when they (the leftists) finally decide to love America more than they hate George W. Bush. In other words, never.

Posted by vet66 | July 17, 2007 10:53 AM

Well said, Doug.

The democratic leadership, pandering to the left, are frantic that the surge is working with measurable results in the positive column. Never Patriotic, the left is increasingly desperate that their hope for the defeat of our policy of democratization is fading.

What the all-nighter tonight will display is the vapid question as to why are "we", the left, always out-of-step with reality? The answer, of course, is their "reality" is a dream of utopia that they cannot articulate much less explain. It is a mirage that exists "over the horizon" forever out of reach, and ephemeral. Mutha was positively Freudian when he coined that phrase!

We are witnessing the epiphany of the left that they are increasingly irrelevant in the world of real politic.

Posted by doug in colorado | July 17, 2007 11:00 AM

What...a UN SecGen actually saying something that makes sense? And he even said it's not his place to tell the US what to do? Who is that man, and what has he done with the REAL Ban-Ki Moon???

Posted by Monkei | July 17, 2007 11:11 AM

Vet ... the democractic leadership is not pandering to the left, they are revolting against the far right ... they are doing the work of well over 60 percent of the citizenry of the US ... it is the GOP which is doing the work of their base.

Posted by doug in colorado | July 17, 2007 11:34 AM

Troll on Monkei, and dream on as well...

Why does the Dem-controlled congress now have a lower credibility rating than the man you love to hate, George Bush? Because the American people can now see what happens when the inmates start trying to run the asylum.

Posted by Scrapiron | July 17, 2007 11:39 AM

Defeating the enemy would be easy if the enemy was only the terrorists. When you add in our own FBI, CIA, Congress and 20% of the American public (traitors for years) as part of the enemy the fight gets spread out. Nothing will change people like the brainless Webb, Turbin Durbin, Dirty Harry, Mad Dog Murtha, Leaky Leahy, and Botox Peeeeloshi. They are and always will be enemies of the state, or at least the average citizen. We just don't measure up to their level of crime

Posted by hermie | July 17, 2007 11:40 AM

So the UN says that we shouldn't pull out immediately, while the Dems do everything they can to pull the troops out ASAP.

Does that mean the Dems fail the Kerry 'Global Test'?

Posted by tgharris | July 17, 2007 11:51 AM

"Do you suppose the Democrats will address Ban's warning in tonight's marathon session?"


Next question, please.

Posted by Hugh Beaumont | July 17, 2007 12:10 PM

Just recently finish watching the Ken Burns PBS Civil War documentary last night.

The similarity of the political environments then and now is uncanny.

Bush and the Republican party in 2007 are a mirror image of Lincoln and his Republicans in 1864.

With Grant and Sherman stymied outside of Petersburg and Atlanta, Lincolns re-election was written off.....he was doomed......before the 11th hour military successes turned the
tide of his electoral fortunes.

Could todays Democrats be looking over their shoulders?

Posted by Mike Miale | July 17, 2007 12:16 PM

So, what's the over-under for the time where Harry Reid falls asleep? I think we should start a pool. We could even do some last-longer stamina challenges.

Posted by Monkei | July 17, 2007 12:16 PM

Doug, the answer to your question is quite simple, the GOP base will give them negative poll numbers no matter what, the moderates and liberals give them low ratings because they don't have the numbers to stop what they were put in there to stop. Quite simple ... you don't see that? If the GOP party continues to get behind lock step with shrub and they continue to step in the way to stop the war, the low poll ratings won't be effecting the dems running ... it's the Iraq war stupid should be tatooed on every forehead of every democratic congressman in washington.

Let's also remember dougie ... that the congress is still only a split institution. If the dems really had power in the senate we would not even be having this little chat over poll numbers.

darn that moderate gang of 16 senators that you all railed against just last year!

Posted by MarkJ | July 17, 2007 12:22 PM

"Do you suppose the Democrats will address Ban's warning in tonight's marathon session?"

Short answer: no.

Know why? Because the Donks "thoughtful and measured response" to Secretary Ban's comments will be to collectively stick their fingers in their ears and squeal "LA-LA-LA-LA-LA, I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

Posted by Lightwave | July 17, 2007 12:37 PM

General Pace's remarks should put to rest the debate in the minds of many Americans.

If our military determines that we're winning in Iraq (and there has been plenty of evidence in support of this over the last few months) and that increasing the surge in support of our new strategy is the best solution, then we need to do it.

As far as your questions on the Dems, well given Pace's remarks and the NIE on AQ, the whole filibuster charade looks pretty hollow now, doesn't it?

Remember, from a political standpoint, victory in Iraq would mean the end of the Democrats for a generation. At this point, the party depends on withdrawal from Iraq. They will do everything in their power to see this happen, because if it doesn't, the Federal government will be controlled by the GOP for the next 20-30 years.

The Dems tried to play yet another political stunt game, and they got burned by the administration. Pure and simple. As usual, advantage Bush.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | July 17, 2007 12:55 PM

Hugh Beaumont said:

"Bush and the Republican party in 2007 are a mirror image of Lincoln and his Republicans in 1864."

And remember, Lincoln's opponents called him "Chimpy" too!

Posted by Monkei | July 17, 2007 1:18 PM

wow, talk about stretches ... comparing Bush now to Lincoln ... from worst to first.

of course Lincoln financed his war, Bush chose to cut taxes. it was the gop who came up with the federal income tax plan. I guess that was back when the GOP was the tax and spend party and not the spend and no tax party they are today.

Lincoln chose to fight the civil war with overwhelming forces, Bush and the neocons chose to fight it on the cheap with less than needed forces.

It was Lincoln's and the north's overwhelming strength that overcame the superior leadership the south had on the battlefield.

Of course Lincoln had an enemy, one that could be found pursued and defeated. Bush has a group of islamic thugs who are spread out through a bunch of countries. I am not sure if Lincoln had to lie his way into the war against the insurgency in the south.

Lincoln had someone/an army that would eventually surrender to him. Bush ... it ain't gonna happen.

The bottom line, comparing Bush to Lincoln is just another one of those crappy "throw it against the wall and see what sticks" lines ... sort of like fighting them there so they won't follow us home themes.

Remember, it is 116 degrees in Iraq! We can't expect their leaders to work in that kind of heat!

Posted by onlineanalyst | July 17, 2007 2:32 PM

vet66: Not only are Murtha and the DemBats "somewhere over the horizon," they are "somewhere over the rainbow". I don't know how the blarney-spieling Kennedy leprechaun will survive the sleep-over without a nightcap to provide his visions of a new Dem utopia.

Will the slumber party allow for some bedtime reading of Pace's and Ban Ki-moon's statements and the latest NIE report? Facts tend to put the Dems to sleep... as has been caught on film of Byrd's napping.

The monkei is scrambling from bar to bar, screeching his chatter of defeat. Pitiful that he cannot celebrate a turning point with optimism.

Posted by Angry Dumbo | July 17, 2007 2:42 PM

I guess we support the troops, does not mean we support General P.

Posted by jr565 | July 17, 2007 3:10 PM

monkei wrote some inanity on the civil war, showing he's not an expert in the civil war, but here's a few things he left out.

Abe Lincoln suspended habeus corpus.

Able Lincoln jailed newspaper editors and those who were undermining the war effort.

Lincoln also had Sherman as his general. Sherman believed in the concept of "total war" and destroyed all homes farms and railroads in towns and total war is fought (at least according to the definition) heedless of any moral consequences, and the sole purpose is to break the enemy's ability to wage war, by whatever means possible. See for example Shermans March to the Sea where he applied scorched earth principles in his move to totally crush the south (in addition to waging war that entailed stuff like - destroying farms, consume supplies, burn crops, kill livestock etc - man gaffo must be having a coronary at this time. THat Lincoln sounds like a real NAZI).


Don't remember Bush doing any of that stuff. So was Lincoln the great emancipator or as Gore VIdal chraacterizes him an "absolute dictator".

Certainly it was different times and different circumstances, but for all your talk of how BUsh is turning the US into some new third reich maybe before you compare Bush to Lincoln and denigrate Bush in the comparison you might at least open your eyes as to what Lincoln actually did.

Posted by Gaius Livius | July 17, 2007 3:17 PM

What I'm seeing in General Pace's comments is encouraging in the followng respect: If we're pursuing multiple objectives simultaneously in Iraq, which can be generally grouped into "security" and "political," then if we can't have them all at once it's better to have security first.

If there's sufficient security, then the politicians may eventually come around and get their collective act together. But without security, then it really doesn't matter what the local pols say or do.

A logical progression is underway, and given enough persistence just might win the day. No wonder Reid & Co. are burning the midnight oil trying to secure America's defeat before it's too late.

Posted by tolkein | July 17, 2007 3:40 PM

Well, it looks as though the MNF and Bush - give him credit for appointing the right man in Petraeus, as he rightly gets the blame for failings- have found the right strategy. I really hope it works, for the sake of the Iraqis, democrats everywhere, the cause of humanitarian intervention and for (least important) my Party in the UK, the Labour Party, which has invested huge political capital in this war.

When it's over, do we get an accounting from Rumsfeld, whose refusal in 2003-2006 to provide the necessary extra troops has been shown to have been a very bad decision indeed?

Posted by tolkein | July 17, 2007 3:45 PM

Well, it looks as though the MNF and Bush - give him credit for appointing the right man in Petraeus, as he rightly gets the blame for failings- have found the right strategy. I really hope it works, for the sake of the Iraqis, democrats everywhere, the cause of humanitarian intervention and for (least important) my Party in the UK, the Labour Party, which has invested huge political capital in this war.

When it's over, do we get an accounting from Rumsfeld, whose refusal in 2003-2006 to provide the necessary extra troops has been shown to have been a very bad decision indeed?

Posted by Del Dolemonte | July 17, 2007 4:15 PM

Chimpei said:

"wow, talk about stretches ... comparing Bush now to Lincoln ... from worst to first. "

Naw, Jimmy Carter was worse than Bush.

By the way, I wasn't really "comparing" Lincoln and Bush-just noting that both of their opponents called them the same name.

Posted by Continuum | July 17, 2007 4:30 PM

Hurrah, the outgoing Pace says that we are making wild progress in Iraq.

I told you so.

Now, all we need is just another 6 more months until the Iraqs start throwing sweets and flowers instead of bombs.

Do these Bush syncophants have no shame????

Posted by Del Dolemonte | July 17, 2007 8:09 PM

"Lincoln also had Sherman as his general. "

And don't forget that "Chimpy" Lincoln also had another General, U.S. Grant.

If there was any proof needed that the Dems' "chickenhawk" theory is as intellectually bankrupt and out of date as the Bush-Lincoln-Chimpy comparison, Grant would be it.

US was a brilliant wartime General, winning the battles at Vicksburg and Richmond, but later turned out to be an utterly corrupt President. Thus proving that "military service" shouldn't be relied upon by the voters to judge the competence of their national leaders.

Posted by RPinkley | July 17, 2007 9:07 PM

Was that Baghdad Bob standing in the well of the US senate declaring we've lost the war the surge is a failure, just as Iraq is turning on A.Q. and tribal leaders are signing up to fight with us? Nah, just little Harry Reid from Nevada think I will do my gambling in Atlantic City. Iraqi congress more successful at meaningful legislation since Jan than dirty little Harry and San Fran Nan have been.Fact!

Posted by jr565 | July 17, 2007 11:01 PM

From CNN (of all places today):
CHETRY: And, I'm Kiran Chetry. America' top general is in Iraq right now, and he is actually taking a surprising step. He wants to show that things are safe enough that he could actually walk through the streets of one of the most dangerous areas of Iraq in the Sunni Triangle. The streets of Ramadi.

That is where General Peter Pace is right now. CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr is actually traveling with him as well...Are you guys actually walking through the streets as we speak, Barbara?

VOICE OF BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, it is an extraordinary thing. I hope everyone can hear me. We are absolutely walking through the marketplace as we speak. General Pace just stopped and brought some fruits and vegetables from a dealer here in the market. He is stopping to say hello to every little kid he can find and take pictures with them.

What's really extraordinary here is, of course, Ramadi was the real heartland of al Qaeda, if you will, just a few months ago. So many U.S. troops lost their lives on these streets and the battle for this city. Now, today, the streets are quiet. Rebuilding is underway. Perhaps one of the most extraordinary things is they have not have an IED attack on the streets of this city since February.

It's not to say that there aren't plenty of problems around. Lots of security challenges to overcome, but I don't think anyone really expected even six months ago that a chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff would spend the afternoon walking around the streets of the city. It's a pretty extraordinary event...

CHETRY: Barbara is that an accurate picture of what normal life is like there, or are they bringing out extraordinary security measures as well, as they did when Senator John McCain was walking through the streets of Iraq?

STARR: Well, let's be clear. There is very significant security here, of course. But, there are Iraqis walking right up to General Pace, shaking his hand, through the translator having conversations. It's a bit of an unusual day here in Ramadi because there is a sandstorm which is why we got grounded. We were supposed to be on a helicopter out of here.

So, the weather is pretty tough out here so there actually aren't a lot of people out on the streets. Make no mistake, there is security. The marketplace, as always, has security barriers because of concern about suicide car bombs. That sort of thing. But there are no helicopters overhead. There is the general's personal security and our drivers. But it's pretty standard stuff, I would say.

Hmm sounds like progress to me. No, it doesn't mean the war is won and that starting tomorrow Iraqis will be flying kites in a new utopia, but there have been zero IED attacks in the area since february. That is progress. It's not the end. It doesn't mean its over. But it means that we're making progress.

This is a winnable fight and has always been a winnable fight, the insane hysterics of the democrats and liberals notwithstanding.