We Can Win in Iraq by Hitting Iran

August 27, 2007

The media campaign to play down some anticipated good military news from Iraq is heating up. The latest salvo came in a false August 16 front-page story in the Washington Post claiming that the White House was scheming to keep Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. military forces in Iraq, and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, from openly testifying about the war when they visit Capitol Hill next month.

The objective is to keep the American public thinking that the military situation is a lost cause, and that the only alternative left for the U.S. is a military withdrawal, as liberal Democrats are demanding. 

But the White House is reacting more quickly these days to erroneous press accounts. It shot down the Post story. "General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will testify to the Congress in both open as well as closed sessions prior to the September 15th report," said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe. "That has always been our intention."

The Post suggested that Petraeus and Crocker would testify secretly and that Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would report to Congress in open session, giving the White House view. 

Reporters couldn't believe that the Post could be wrong. Not willing to wait for the true facts, NBC's stable of Bush-bashers quickly exploited the Post account, assuming it was true.

MSNBC's Chris Matthews jumped all over it, as did Keith Olbermann, who called the White House "sleazy." Matthews and Olbermann both implied that this was a change of course from what had been planned and stated by President Bush.

In fact, Johndroe said that the rationale for the next report was the same that guided the release of the last one. There is nothing mysterious or sinister in any of this. It is standard operating procedure.

Nevertheless, on cue, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid joined the fray. "The White House's effort to prevent Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker from testifying openly and candidly before Congress about the situation in Iraq," said Reid, "is unacceptable."

Reid was wrong, in another example of how the Washington Post misleads politicians and prompts them to make embarrassing and mistaken comments. The only question is whether Reid even cares that he was wrong. He has already declared that the war is lost. It's clear he doesn't want to hear anything but bad news.

What we saw, in this case, was a coordinated effort by the Post and congressional Democrats to create the impression that the White House was being dishonest. The assault was designed to divert attention from what is likely to occur¯that Petraeus will report significant military progress. This would put liberals in Congress in some trouble.

If there is consensus that military progress is being made, then the question becomes: how can we achieve military victory? This is the question many in the media don't want to be asked or answered.

Some liberals seem to fear the prospect of the U.S. winning militarily. Democratic Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn was quoted as saying that a report that includes military progress could be "a real problem for us" because the Democratic Party has been agitating for a withdrawal no matter what happens on the ground. A positive report could convince many of the 47 so-called Blue Dog Democrats in the House to abandon their party leadership and support the White House.

Hence, the White House has to be discredited in advance. That is apparently why the Post published its erroneous account, and why liberal Democrats and their media allies on MSNBC jumped on it.

But some of the good news is even starting to appear in foreign media. Der Spiegel, a German newspaper that has been critical of the war, concluded in a recent story that "The US military is more successful in Iraq than the world wants to believe."

The terrorists understand this. That is why they are gearing up.

In a column published on the AIM website, Dr. Peter C. Rollins, a former Marine and producer/director of "Television's Vietnam," had predicted a new enemy military offensive before the Petraeus testimony. It started coming on August 14, when terrorists killed more than 400 people in the Northern Iraqi city of Kahtaniya. We can anticipate more such carnage resulting from sensational suicide bombings. The terrorists are playing to¯and using¯our own media.

The same strategy, as Rollins pointed out, worked in Vietnam.

While the liberation was successful, the matter of what would replace Saddam's regime has been extremely difficult. One reason for this has been the failure to deal with blatant and sustained interference from Iran. By all accounts, the Iranians have far too much influence over the current Iraqi government, making a political solution with the Sunnis difficult, if not impossible.

In a long overdue step, the Bush administration has decided to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guard to be a terrorist organization. But there is still no indication that the administration is prepared to strike Iran militarily. Such a move would send a powerful message not only to Iran but to the Iraqi government. It would provide a powerful incentive for the al-Maliki government to make peace with the Sunnis.

But rather than strike Iran and make the regime pay the price for killing our troops and undermining a political settlement in Iraq, the administration is asking the United Nations for help and trying to build up an anti-Iranian alliance among Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan through the sale of advanced weaponry. Congress, with good reason, may not approve those weapons sales.

The real issue Congress should debate and discuss when Petraeus delivers his testimony is that, whatever the military progress on the ground, what is the United States going to do about Iran? Even conservatives are balking at support for a policy of military assistance for an Iraqi government that seems to be acting in some ways as a client of Tehran.

A U.S. military withdrawal, as liberals propose, would not solve the problem. It would simply give Iran complete control of the situation on the ground. The alternative, which needs more serious coverage from the media, is building upon the military progress in Iraq by taking the war to Iran.

Presidential candidates from both parties should be asked about Iran. What do they intend to do about its military interference in Iraq? And its nuclear weapons program?

If we had media organizations that were interested in solving vexing foreign policy problems, rather than constantly trying to make the White House look bad, the American people would be better served.

Let's have an open and honest debate about Iraq. And let's insist that media organs like the Post and NBC and MSNBC quit playing political games with the war and the heroic sacrifices that have already been made by our troops.

There is no substitute for a military victory. This is the "bias" that should drive our media and our politicians, in the Congress and the White House. 

Let's make sure they all get the message. 

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Copyright ©2007 Roger Aronoff and Cliff Kincaid