Monday, July 30, 2007

Iraq's Battle of the Bulge

In December 1944, when World War II seemed all but over, the Germans launched a furious last-ditch offensive to try to change the outcome. It lasted a month, cost many lives but failed.

That memory comes back today as proponents of the war in Iraq now mount their attack on the widely held belief that all is lost there.

In a New York Times OpEd, titled “A War We Might Just Win,” Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack claim: “We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily ‘victory’ but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.”

Their first-hand report on signs of improvement seems from this distance to be based more on hope and optimism than hard reality, but it deserves a hearing.

Meanwhile Gen. David Petraeus is working hard to dispute last week’s reports from many sources that Prime Minister al-Maliki wants him out: "He and I have truly had frank conversations but he has never yelled or stood up. This is really, really hard stuff, and occasionally people agree to disagree."

We are in half-full-or-half-empty terrain here. Those of us who love our country but hate the war and see it through the glass darkly can only hope some of this is true.

But it will take a lot more to persuade us to bear the continuing loss of American lives because, as the Brookings Institution warriors put it, “there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.”

Bush, Cheney et al have begun their Battle of the Bulge, but Congress should have the good sense and guts to see a last-gasp counterattack for what it is.

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