What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 23, 2008

Jack Kelly Sunday

This week, Jack Kelly goes after Senator Hillary Clinton and the War in Iraq. Did you know we're on the verge (après la surge) of winning??

Neither did I.

He rests the first half of his argument on a recent poll done by ABC/NHK of the Iraqi people (those that remained in the country - but more on that later) and begins by writing about another "most recent Clinton flip-flop." Here it is:

In a speech in West Virginia Wednesday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton described Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, as "an extraordinary leader and a wonderful advocate for our military."

Just seven months ago Mrs. Clinton indirectly called Gen. Petraeus a liar (it would, she said, take a "willing suspension of disbelief" to believe what the general was saying about progress in Iraq since the troop surge began). This most recent Clinton flip-flop illustrates the sea change that's happened in Iraq since then.

A little context. As reported by Patrick Healy of the New York Times, this is what went on:

At a town hall meeting just now, Mrs. Clinton laid out her plan to withdraw troops from Iraq, noting she would rely on “the best military advice we can get” to devise a “very thoughtful” approach to start removing troops within 60 days of taking office.

As she concluded her remarks, she noted that American forces in Iraq were led by “an extraordinary leader and a wonderful advocate of our military.”

Indeed, Healy called it a "relatively rare shout-out" to Petraeus. The other quotation, where the Senator mentioned a "willing suspension of disbelief" occurred last September 11, the day the Administration chose to have General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker testify before Congress about the surge. Gee, why that date? I wonder.

In any event, here's the transcript of the exchange. Here's how it begins:

I want to thank both of you, General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker, for your long and distinguished service to our nation. Nobody believes that your jobs or the jobs of the thousands of American forces and civilian personnel in Iraq are anything but incredibly difficult.

But today you are testifying about the current status of our policy in Iraq and the prospects of that policy. It is a policy that you have been ordered to implement by the president. And you have been made the de facto spokesmen for what many of us believe to be a failed policy.

Despite what I view as your rather extraordinary efforts in your testimony both yesterday and today, I think that the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief.

Wait, did she just thank (in that first paragraph) Petraeus and Crocker for the "distinguished service" to the nation? I am surprised J-Kel even bothered with the speech in West Virginia! Way back in September Clinton praised Petraeus in one paragraph and then challenges him two paragraphs later! How is that possible? To praise someone in one context and then challenge them in another. It's inconceivable! WHAT A FLIP-FLOPPER!!

Let's, though, take a look at the poll Commando Kelly uses to support his thesis. He writes:

Nearly 4,000 American service members and about 100,000 Iraqis (most of them in the suicide bombings for which al-Qaida has become infamous) have been killed since March 19, 2003. Has it been worth it?

Iraqis apparently think so. Last week ABC and the BBC released results of a poll conducted in Iraq last month in which 55 percent of Iraqis said their lives were going well, up from 39 percent last August. Forty-nine percent of Iraqis think the U.S. invasion was justified, up from 37 percent in August.

First, take a look at that first paragraph. Notice any rhetorical sleight of hand at play? He's equating al-Qaeda with al-Qaeda in Iraq. He later says:

The Bush administration had both short-and long-term strategic goals in Iraq; some publicly stated, some not. All are on the verge of being met.

In the short term, the president wanted to go on offense against al-Qaida, rather than wait passively for another attack. The most significant fact in the war on terror is there has been no successful attack on our homeland since 9/11. This is chiefly because most of al-Qaida's energies and resources have been directed elsewhere. Iraq has proven to be a graveyard both for al-Qaida's most experienced operators, and for its reputation in the Muslim world.

First off, let me say (yet again) that there's a difference between "al-Qaeda" and "al-Qaeda in Iraq." I'm not the only one to assert this. I mean even the US State Department says so. Take a look:
Terrorist activities in the Middle East and North Africa continued to be a primary concern in the global war on terror. Active extremist groups in this region include: al-Qaida, the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hizballah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades (Fatah’s militant wing), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), Ansar al-Islam and its offshoot Ansar al-Sunna, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's organization, Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn, a.k.a. al-Qaida of the Jihad Organization in the Land of Two Rivers (a.k.a. al-Qaida in Iraq). These terrorist groups continued to affiliate themselves with al-Qaida and/or express support for its ideology. [emphasis added.]
Look at the very last sentence: it says that these groups are affiliated with al-Qaeda or support its ideology. They are, at best, separate but affiliated - i.e. not the same organization. So any discussion of the al-Qaeda that committed the 9/11 attacks (and let's not forget the fact that its leader has yet to be captured by our great and glorious president) has to be separate from whatever organization that calls itself "al-Qaeda in Iraq."

Something Jack Kelly does not do. He must know that that's the case, but he doesn't want you to know it.

But take a look at what Congressional Reporting Service had to say about al-Qaeda in Iraq. In that section of the report listing "Major Sunni Factions" (and can someone please tell Senator McCain the difference between Shi'ite and Sunni. Thanks), it says:
AQ-I was led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian national, until his death in U.S. airstrike June 7, 2006. Succeeded by Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (Abu Ayyub al-Masri), an Egyptian. Estimated 3,000 in Iraq (about 10-15% of total insurgents) from many nations, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but increasingly subordinate to Iraqi Sunni insurgents under the banner of the “Islamic State of Iraq.” See CRS Report RL32217, Iraq and Al Qaeda.
See that? Al-Qaeda in Iraq is "about 10-15% of the total insurgents" and yet, Jack Kelly (without any references to back him up) says that most of the 100,000 Iraqi dead were caused by the suicide bombings "for which al-Qaeda has become infamous."

I wonder how that happens. Jack doesn't tell us. He just hopes we'll fill in the blanks for ourselves.

Now onto that poll.

Here's ABC's reporting on it. Here's what Jack wrote so you can refresh your memory:
Last week ABC and the BBC released results of a poll conducted in Iraq last month in which 55 percent of Iraqis said their lives were going well, up from 39 percent last August. Forty-nine percent of Iraqis think the U.S. invasion was justified, up from 37 percent in August.
And he's using that to support the sentence that "Iraqis think the invasion was worth it."

Some other findings from the poll data (by way of ABC):
Challenges remain broad and deep. Beyond their own lives, most Iraqis, 55 percent, still say things are going badly for the country, even if that's down from a record 78 percent in August. Violence remains common, particularly in the cities; local car bombs or suicide attacks, just within the past six months, are reported by 45 percent in Baghdad, 51 percent in Kirkuk and 39 percent in Mosul.
Sectarian differences remain vast. While more than six in 10 Shiites and seven in 10 Kurds say their own lives are going well, that drops to a third in the Sunni Arab minority. Eighty-three percent of Sunnis rate national conditions negatively. And while half of Shiites and six in 10 Kurds expect their children's lives to be better than their own, a mere 12 percent of Sunnis share that most basic hope.
Here's a question: Do you think that will have any impact on future insurgencies?

Here's an answer to that question:

Views of the United States, while still broadly negative, have moderated in some respects. Just shy of half, 49 percent, now say it was right for the U.S.-led coalition to have invaded, up by 12 points from August; the previous high was 48 percent in the first ABC News poll in Iraq in February 2004.

Similarly, the number of Iraqis who call it "acceptable" to attack U.S. forces has declined for the first time in these polls, down to 42 percent after peaking at 57 percent in August. Even with a 15-point drop, however, that's still a lot of Iraqis to endorse such violence. (Just 4 percent, by contrast, call it acceptable to attack Iraqi government forces.)

Sunni Arabs, dispossessed by the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, are a good example. In August 93 percent of Sunnis called it acceptable to attack U.S. forces. Today, that's down to 62 percent - a dramatic decline, but one that still leaves six in 10 Sunnis on the side of anti-U.S. attacks.

Here's how Jack ends the column:
The cost of the war in Iraq has been high, much higher than it ought to have been because of the many blunders made in prosecuting it. But the strategy was sound. And now -- thanks chiefly to Gen. Petraeus -- a historic, transformational victory is nigh.
It's a fairly typical conservative reaction: the idea was right but the prosecution was wrong.

There are those who say, of course, that responding to the 9/11 attacks with a pre-emptive attack on a country unconnected that those attacks was wrong (and it still is), the poorly planned occupation was a disaster of epic proportions and so no matter what positive results may be bubbling up out of the mess dubya's dumped us all in, it will never ever be consindered a "win."

There's too much blood, too much suffering and too many lies and too many lies from the likes of Jack Kelly to put a happy face on it.

Yea sure Jack, we're on the verge of winning over there. In your dreams, pal.


Bill in Chicago said...

"See that? Al-Qaeda in Iraq is 'about 10-15% of the total insurgents' and yet, Jack Kelly (without any references to back him up) says that most of the 100,000 Iraqi dead were caused by the suicide bombings 'for which al-Qaeda has become infamous.' "

FYI, I don't know where he's getting the claim that most of the Iraqi deaths have been caused by suicide bombings (my guess is he's just making that up), but the fact that "Al Qaeda in Iraq" is responsible for most of the suicide bombings in Iraq does seem to be true. Specifically, it has been widely and repeatedly reported, from a variety of different sources, that a majority of the suicide bombers in Iraq are actually Saudi Arabian. For whatever ideological/political/cultural reasons, the Iraqis by and large just don't do suicide bombings. It's the foreign fanatics, and particularly the Saudis, who are responsible for the suicide bombings, although those attacks only comprise a small percentage of the total number of all acts of violence being perpetrated in the country, most of which are Iraqi on Iraqi.

This is also illustrative of the real link between AQI and the Al Qaeda organization which perpetrated the attacks on 9/11. Their basically all Saudis:


None of which justifies any of what is going on in Iraq. In fact, it simply confirms what we should have known from day one, when we found out that the overwhelming majority of those 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, too.

Indeed, not only has the Bush administration refused to lift a finger against those most responsible for 9/11, they have been quite active in covering up and concealing from the American people still more evidence implicating the Saudis. Sure seems like treason to me.

C.H. said...

Like the USA, Saudi Arabia has been attacked by Al-Qaeda.

This is not to say that extremists are not crossing into Iraq from Saudi Arabia, in fact, like the 9/11 hijackers, most of the bombers in Iraq are Saudis...but there are many Algerians, Moroccans, and other nationalities as well. One things for sure, it does contradict the ignorant assumption that the most horrific attacks in Iraq are committed by "angry Sunnis and Shiites" attacking one another.

Saudi Arabia needs to do more, yes, but they are not as bad as other countries, like Iran, where it is government policy to support terrorism.

I think the reason the Saudis have failed to take action is the fear of a backlash, like what has happened in Pakistan as the security forces push deeper into the tribal belt. Already this year, there have been dozens of AQ and Taliban suicide attacks against Pakistani forces, as well as civilians.

That is not a scenario the Saudis desire. However, they must find a way to eliminate the people who are hijacking mosques and using them as a portal to export death. If they don't, these people will come after them regardless...just look at what's happening in N. Africa and Somalia, countries that have done nothing more than renounce the use of violence to acheive political means.

Infinonymous said...

A group of men, most of them Saudis, commanded by a Saudi, funded by Saudis, on a mission founded in an extremist religious movement officially recognized and funded by the Saudi government, attacked the United States in September 2001, killing 3,000 Americans.

What was the Bush administration's response?

First, it arranged special flights for Saudis in the United States while Americans were stranded about the country and the world . . . then it attacked Iraq.

Why does the Bush administration continue, despite the neverending supply of suicide bombers trained in Saudi-sponsored institutions, to lick the odious boots of reprehensible tyrants in Saudi Arabia?

It appears to pay to have friends in high places in Washington and House, and to have oil with which you are willing to operate joint ventures with well-placed Americans. Those factors appear to outweigh just about anything, including blood and morality, in the Bush adminstration's judgment.

infinonymous said...

I typed "House" instead of "Houston."

Anonymous said...

infinonymous, WATCH OUT the grammer guy will get you. he trolls for mistakesd like that. Talk about picking and clawing at something. He beets Hill. I mean he beats Hill. WoW, glat I cot that won.

Schmuck Shitrock said...

One things for sure, it does contradict the ignorant assumption that the most horrific attacks in Iraq are committed by "angry Sunnis and Shiites" attacking one another.

How so?

I think the reason the Saudis have failed to take action is the fear of a backlash, like what has happened in Pakistan

I see very little similarity between the two situations.

Pakistan has a parliamentary government -- at least in principle -- which is somewhat responsive to the populace. Pakistan has vast areas that are mountainous, difficult to access, and thinly-populated by populations of various (sometimes) radical chieftains.

The Saudis are ruled by an iron-fisted dictator who is completely in control of a loyal military without regard for a cowed, homogenous populace.

In short, the Saudis could quash terrorist activity much more easily and effectively if they cared to. On 911, they demonstrated their willingness to do so.