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Our Baghdad Bob

What a contrast.

On Sunday Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about the success of the “surge” in Iraq. “Are you not worried, though, that all the gains that have been achieved over the past year might be lost?” Blitzer asked.

“There haven’t been gains, Wolf,” Pelosi replied. “The gains have not produced the desired effect, which is the reconciliation of Iraq. This is a failure. This is a failure.”

Times of London published a story reporting this:

Al-Qaeda in Iraq faces an “extraordinary crisis”. Last year’s mass defection of ordinary Sunnis from al-Qaeda to the US military “created panic, fear and the unwillingness to fight”. The terrorist group’s security structure suffered “total collapse”. These are the words not of al-Qaeda’s enemies but of one of its own leaders in Anbar province — once the group’s stronghold. They were set down last summer in a 39-page letter seized during a US raid on an al-Qaeda base near Samarra in November. The US military released extracts from that letter yesterday along with a second seized in another November raid that is almost as startling. That second document is a bitter 16-page testament written last October by a local al-Qaeda leader near Balad, north of Baghdad. “I am Abu-Tariq, emir of the al-Layin and al-Mashahdah sector,” the author begins. He goes on to describe how his force of 600 shrank to fewer than 20. “We were mistreated, cheated and betrayed by some of our brothers,” he says. “Those people were nothing but hypocrites, liars and traitors and were waiting for the right moment to switch sides with whoever pays them most.” … The Anbar letter conceded that the “crusaders” — Americans — had gained the upper hand by persuading ordinary Sunnis that al-Qaeda was responsible for their suffering and by exploiting their poverty to entice them into the security forces. Al-Qaeda’s “Islamic State of Iraq is faced with an extraordinary crisis, especially in al-Anbar”, the unnamed emir admitted.

In one corner, then, we have the Speaker of the House insisting, despite overwhelming evidence, that progress in Iraq is illusory, that there have been no gains, and that the war is irredeemably lost. In the other corner are first-hand accounts by jihadists about the extraordinary crisis al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) faces – a crisis that has been confirmed by a raft of objective metrics during the last year.

The last few weeks we have seen a series of high-profile, deadly bombings that are evidence that AQI is not defeated and that we need to maintain pressure if we hope to succeed. The offensive in the northern city of Mosul, AQI’s last urban stronghold, promises to be difficult and bloody. But to insist that there “haven’t been gains” is to venture into a land of utter delusion.

All of this calls to mind Baghdad Bob. Baghdad Bob, people will recall, was the nickname given to Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the buffoonish former Information Minister of Iraq who (to take just one example) claimed on April 7, 2003 that there were no American troops in Baghdad and that the Americans were committing suicide by the hundreds at the city’s gates – even though at precisely that moment American tanks were patrolling the streets only a few hundred yards from the location al-Sahaf’s press conference was held.

Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, has become our Baghdad Bob. And what a spectacle it is. Jihadists in Iraq are testifying to their own failures. At the same time, the Speaker of the House seems to have a deep ideological investment in ours.


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