Did you know we're winning the war in Iraq? That's what Jack Kelly says in this week's column. This is what he said:
Back in 2006, when we were perceived to be losing it, the war in Iraq was voted the top news story in the AP's annual poll. But now that we're winning, the war in Iraq has fallen to third in the AP poll for 2007, behind the massacre at Virginia Tech last April and the mortgage crisis. [emphasis added]And General Petraeus did it.
So Jack's on the record with this. Ok fine. Taking a closer look at who he quotes (and why) we can see that Jack isn't as careful with his writing as he probably should be. Take his first quotation:
In all of American history, only a handful of generals -- Grant and Sherman in the Civil War, MacArthur with the Inchon landing in the Korean War -- have turned a war around in so short a time as has Gen. David Petraeus. And no one has done it with so few casualties, or so little civilian "collateral damage."
What has happened in Iraq since the troop surge began about this time last year is a tribute to the kindness and the humanity as well as to the courage and skill of U.S. soldiers and Marines. And to the genius and leadership of David Petraeus. The surge strategy was mostly his idea, and he's implemented it brilliantly. [emphasis added]
He follows that immediately with this:
Radical Islamists are driving Christians from the Middle East, said Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute.
"From Morocco to the Persian Gulf, we are seeing the rapid erosion of Christian populations, thought to now number no more than 15 million," Ms. Shea wrote in National Review. "The extinction of these ancient church communities will lead to ever more extremism within the region and polarization from the non-Muslim world."
You'd think, just as I did, that the third paragraph is somehow connected to the quotation of the first and second, right? The information found in the third is actually from another (unsourced by Jack, by the way) article from the Scotman.
There's one Middle Eastern country where the reverse is happening. Thousands of people attended Christmas services in Baghdad this year. Most of the worshippers were, of course, Christians. But in the pews with them were prominent Muslim clerics, both Sunni and Shia.
More about that in a little bit.
I want to point out that what Shea writes a little later in her article at the National Review Online actually contradicts Jack's thesis. Here's what she writes:
The end of Christianity in Iraq - a phrase left unmentioned by Jack Kelly who wants us to believe that the success of the surge has brought Christians back to Iraq.
Over half of Iraq’s one million Christians have fled since a coordinated bombing of their churches in August 2004 was followed by sustained violence against them. A Catholic Chaldean bishop raised the possibility last month that we may now be witnessing “the end of Christianity in Iraq.” Anglican Canon Andrew White, who leads a Baghdad ecumenical congregation, agrees: “All of my leadership were originally taken and killed — all dead,” he asserted in November.
Iraq’s Christian community, which dates from the Apostle Thomas, is not simply caught in the cross hairs of a sectarian civil war between Shiites and Sunnis. It is targeted for its non-Muslim faith — a reality U.S. policy fails to acknowledge. An extremist Sunni fatwa issued to Christians this year in a Baghdad neighborhood could not be clearer: “If you do not leave your home, your blood will be spilled. You and your family will be killed.'”
So where did J-Kel get the part about Christians returning to Baghdad for Christmas?
Here - take a look at the rest of that article:
As the suicide bombers struck to the north, thousands of Iraqi Christians picked their way through checkpoints and streets lined with concrete blast walls in Baghdad on their way to packed churches for Christmas Mass.
The country's small Christian community took advantage of lower violence in recent days to turn out in numbers unthinkable a year ago.
So it's not, as Jack Kelly informed us, that Christians were streaming back into Iraq because of the surge, it's that the security brought by the surge has allowed those who didn't flee some new level of protection.
The pews were almost full and still more people streamed in. Outside, police armed with automatic rifles manned a checkpoint at the corner of the narrow street, searching every passing car for possible bombs.
Christians have often been the target of attacks by Islamic extremists in Iraq, forcing tens of thousands to flee. Many of those who stayed were isolated in neighbourhoods protected by barricades and checkpoints.
But what happens when the surge subsides?
Mean while, back in the real world:
And something for Jack Kelly to chew on:
In a message to his troops, [General David Petraeus] wrote: "A year ago, Iraq was racked by horrific violence and on the brink of civil war.
"Now, levels of violence and civilian and military casualties are significantly reduced and hope has been rekindled in Iraqi communities. To be sure, the progress is reversible and there is much more to be done."
Although the security situation has improved this year, U.S. commanders have been careful not to declare victory after years in which their statements were often seen as overly optimistic.But didn't Jack Kelly say we were winning? Why are those US Commanders such defeatists?
Because maybe things have gotten somewhat better, but they're still fragile, reversable and on the whole, still not so good:
War is over (if you want it)
Figures supplied at the news conference, however, showed that the number of suicide car bomb and suicide vest attacks is starting to creep up again after reaching a low in October.
Two suicide bomb attacks on U.S.-backed neighbourhood patrols killed at least 33 people in the northern city of Baiji and in the city of Baquba on Christmas Day. Ten people were killed in a car bomb blast in central Baghdad on Friday.