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You’ve Got to Be Kidding, Kinsley

Charles Krauthammer has a trenchant column today on how Democrats remain committed to a hasty withdrawal from Iraq, notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence that such a retreat would jeopardize the progress achieved by the surge during the past year. As if to illustrate Krauthammer’s point, Michael Kinsley has a particularly silly article in today’s Los Angeles Times.

His thesis is that “the surge has not worked yet.” He doesn’t deny that violence is down: “Choose your metric: attacks on American soldiers, car bombs, civilian deaths, potholes. They’re all down, down, down.” (He goes on a bit more like this with his trademark snideness.) But he grandly waves it all away from the comfort of his study. He claims that all this is irrelevant. He doesn’t mention the political progress that has been possible because of the decreasing violence, as seen in the recent passage of laws dealing with de-Baathification, provincial powers, the budget, the Iraqi flag, and other pressing matters. According to Kinsley, only one metric matters: “The test is simple and built into the concept of a surge: Has it allowed us to reduce troop levels to below where they were when it started? And the answer is no.”

So because one year after the surge started our troop levels have not yet gone down to presurge levels the surge is not a success. Got that? Kinsley is hard put to find any evidence that the administration had ever planned to reduce total troop levels a year after the surge’s start. The best he can do is to dredge up this vague quote from President Bush: “If we increase our support at this crucial moment and help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence, we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home.”

In point of fact, our troops are already starting to come home—one of the surge brigades has already left Iraq and others are on the way. By mid-July we’ll be down to presurge levels. But somehow I doubt that Kinsley will then concede that the surge has been a success.

Imagine if we applied his reasoning to other conflicts. World War II a success? Give me a break! We still have troops in Germany and Japan? . . .The Korean War a success? Don’t make me laugh! We still have troops in South Korea….

It is not, to put it mildly, a terribly convincing argument. But that’s how desperate opponents of the surge have gotten. They will grasp at any straw to deny George W. Bush—and incidentally the United States of America—a victory.


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