Fingers in the wind

Military historian Victor Davis Hanson notes that one measure of progress in Iraq is which ship the rats are jumping off in his NRO column:

So how do we know whether the surge is working — especially whether its apparent present tactical success will translate into long-term strategic advantage?

In September, Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, will issue a status report on the war to Congress.

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But in the meantime, the American public can look to more subtle indicators to get some sense of Gen. Petraeus’s current progress or failure.

Do Democratic opposition leaders keep blaming each other for voting for the Iraq war? Or are they now talking about expanding military operations to other countries? Sen. Hillary Clinton once was damned for voting to authorize the war in Iraq. But her even more liberal rival Sen. Barrack Obama (D., Ill.), now expresses his own willingness to invade nuclear Islamic Pakistan.

Do antiwar politicians frequently proclaim our defeat in Iraq — or instead worry that the war might be won? In the spring, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) announced Iraq was lost, the surge a failure and Gen. Petraeus not “in touch.” We haven’t seen Sen. Reid much lately.

But we have heard from the House’s majority whip, Rep. James Clyburn (D., S.C.). He’s worried that Gen. Petraeus’ good news about the surge might be “a real problem for us” — “us” being antiwar Democrats. And at a congressional briefing, when Gen. Jack Keane reviewed the positive signs from the surge, Rep. Nancy Boyda (D., Kan.), walked out on the testimony. She complained that there was “only so much that you could take . . . after so much of the frustration of having to listen to what we listened to.”

Read his entire article at the above link. Any success in Iraq is anathema to the extreme left, who hate America almost as much as they hate Bush, but their current prominence in the Democratic Party is directly related to the perception of public dissatisfaction with the war. Most Democratic voters and elected officials don’t share the goals of the radicals, but many have joined forces with them in opposing the war precisely because they had given up hope it might be won.

Now we have war opponents like Durbin and Levin and others openly acknowledging the military successes of the surge. The American public would much prefer victory if it is possible, and Democrats don’t want to be caught on the wrong side if we manage to achieve it.

This naturally infuriates the far left, which is already seething over the FISA reauthorization, but the far left doesn’t win general elections. Will Hillary and the Democrats be able to run back to the center after the primaries if the situation in Iraq is no longer regarded as hopeless by the electorate?

War is a stark, black-and-white issue. Nuance is difficult regarding any war, and particularly this one. Six months ago, the conventional wisdom was that those who supported the war effort were on the wrong side of public opinion, and that war opponents held a strong advantage politically. Let our troops succeed, though, and watch the public – and the politicians – change direction faster than you can kiss a duck.

Stuck in the middle without you
News media: biased, uncaring, inaccurate