June 27th, 2008

Gerard Baker sums it up: we’re winning

Gerard Baker of the Times Online offers a valiant effort to counter the tide of defeatism that continues in the so-called “war on terror” despite strong evidence to the contrary. Good luck, Mr. Baker.

He makes some good points, to wit:

Next time you hear someone say that the war in Afghanistan is an exercise in futility ask them this: do they seriously think that if the US and its allies had not ousted the Taleban and sustained an offensive against them for six years that there would have been no more terrorist attacks in the West?

Baker also describes the success of the surge. But his third point is the most useful of all in rebutting the widespread meme that our actions have only emboldened terrorists and fed their support throughout the world. The evidence is to the contrary:

The third and perhaps most significant advance of all in the War on Terror is the discrediting of the Islamist creed and its appeal…This was first of all evident in Iraq, where the head-hacking frenzy of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his associates so alienated the majority of Muslims that it gave rise to the so-called Sunni Awakening that enabled the surge to be so effective.

But it has spread way beyond Iraq. As Lawrence Wright described in an important piece in The New Yorker last month, there is growing disgust not just among moderate Muslims but even among other jihadists at the extremism of the terrorists.

Deeply encouraging has been the widespread revulsion in Muslim communities in Europe – especially in Britain after the 7/7 attacks of three years ago. Some of the biggest intelligence breakthroughs in the past few years have been achieved from former al-Qaeda supporters who have turned against the movement.

Unfortunately, these words will be lost on those who believe the opposite to be true, although I’ve not seen much evidence to bolster their position other than the undeniable fact that the increasingly weakened, silenced, and marginalized Osama Bin Laden is still alive and unwell and living in Pakistan.

Why is the defeatism so tenacious? Why do people not “cheer up,” as the Times Online headline urges, at the prospect of our victory? Some of it is ignorance of the facts. Some of it is the resistance to changing an opinion, once formed. But some of it is a vested interest in continuing the defeatist narrative. Too many people’s reputations, political and otherwise, depend on it.

30 Responses to “Gerard Baker sums it up: we’re winning”

  1. ad Says:

    Good news is no news.

  2. Ymarsakar Says:

    Unfortunately, these words will be lost on those who believe the opposite to be true

    They will make opposite to be true, no matter who has to die in the process.

    Just as is true for us, in that we must achieve victory, no matter who has to die in the process.

    This kind of makes it hard to call each other (the anti-Iraqi proponents) “allies” given such disparate goals and means.

  3. Ymarsakar Says:

    Why is the defeatism so tenacious? Why do people not “cheer up,” as the Times Online headline urges, at the prospect of our victory?

    Why would they cheer up at the prospect of their defeat? If Bush wins in America, they lose and so do their terrorist allies. Why would they be happy and jubilant about that?

    I wouldn’t, if I was them.

    Shrink wrote an enlightening post on disaffection amongst the populace here

  4. Ymarsakar Says:

    There is so much guilt – guilt that Jews should be bearing arms at all – we’re ready to assume the mantle of wanton destroyer because even to pick up a gun is unsettling for so many of us. One principled antizionist position argues that the moral dilemmas confronting the defense of a state, including the conduct of wars and police actions, contradict higher Jewish moral codes – even the basic principles of Torah – THOU SHALT NOT KILL – the voice of Ha Shem resonates through the ages.

    This argument is not so easy to deflect as more spurious antisemitic or racist claims against the Jewish state or even the universalist argument against the existence of a “Jewish people”. The universalist argument works toward one world, one global people; thus any particularism in an affront to that scheme. One can argue rationally against this.

    But how do we argue with G*d?

    I submit, many Jews, including many Israelis, maybe not even consciously religious, assume guilt that isn’t even theirs because the incredible moral conflicts involved in self-defense, let alone in war, can so outrage the soul.

    There’s another possibility … perhaps they are simply so depressed after their endless battle for survival, their war against man, that they no longer wish to live. That is maybe even more disturbing. It means that many Jews would rather die as a people, or would rather kill their own state, than fight for life.

    Americans don’t have the same problem, but something very much like it.

  5. SteveH Says:

    The answer lies in something liberals would rather not admit. A grudge holding punitive personalty trait that trumps most all mature reason.

    This isn’t just ideology that sees a Iraqui democracy an impossibility and global warming a fact of certainty. This is a pathological issue. As in something is mentally amiss.

  6. gcotharn Says:

    Might winning threaten the worldview by which the PC Left define themselves?

    If freedom and democracy win in Iraq; and if the Iraqi people are better off for that; it would mean good and bad exist, as in:
    freedom = good; Saddam’s rule = bad.

    One could no longer argue that Saddam’s strongman rule was best for that particular Iraqi culture. One could no longer argue that to claim differently was to commit the unacceptably presumptuous acts of righteousness and intellectual discrimination … about the merits of one system of government rule vs. another. Instead, the flourishing of the Iraqi people would amount to objective proof that good and bad exist, and that better and worse exist.

    If good and bad exist, it means objective truth exists. This is significant. The existence of objective truth craters the PC Left’s worldview at it’s core. The PC Left have organized their lives around the principle that objective truth does not exist.

    Therefore, if we win, then – as the PC Left see it – everything they stand for is wrong. Their worldview is invalidated, their precious virtuousness is revealed as facade, everything they knew is no longer known, they are rendered crumpled and intellectually devasted.

    Other than that, the triumph of freedom and democracy in Iraq has little effect on them.

  7. Fred Says:

    My sense and view are that defeatism is a political tool, or at least defeatism defined as the overwhelming possibility that really bad things will happen to (operative word) us. Human nature gets a little lazy when things get easier and we are unfortunately a little too busy being who we are to spend the time to truly develop a unique perspective. Obama serves it up hot, fast on a sesame seed bun. He is a packager of the message that whatever is not working in your life, it’s not your fault and I have the answer. Obama truly reminds me of the latin american populists of the 50s and 70s – all we need now is a good old gov’t-managed farm strike and we can come full circle on Peron.

  8. Logern Says:

    Of course, no one sees the possibility that we could have pursued terrorists with a more aggressive policy without spending upwards of a trillion dollars (at some point) and many thousands of lives.

    No one fathoms that the terrorists were in the process of overplaying their hand and were their own worst enemy — and that our actions in Iraq actually gave them popular support longer than they would have ever been able to on their own.

    There’s usually more than one path to a destination, and just because you might get there with one doesn’t mean you should congratulate yourself about having the best or even right idea.

  9. KBK Says:

    Undeniable fact?? He’s been dead since Tora Bora. I see no evidence that he’s alive; the imposters are pretty crummy imitations, actually, and their scripts are written by moonbats, not genuine Islamists.

  10. Gringo Says:

    Of course, no one sees the possibility that we could have pursued terrorists with a more aggressive policy without spending upwards of a trillion dollars (at some point) and many thousands of lives.
    And what “more aggressive policy” might you have been proposing? Would not a “more aggressive policy” cost more lives? And if this “more aggressive policy” had cost more civilian lives? One less expensive “more aggressive policy” would have been to bomb the Middle East into oblivion: “more rubble, less trouble,” as it has been put. Is this what you are proposing? Or are you just snarking?

    Any policy that did not deal with the “root cause” of terrorism, the dysfunctional and tyrannical governments of the Middle East, was bound to fail. The invasion of Iraq was one way to deal with this.

    No one fathoms that the terrorists were in the process of overplaying their hand and were their own worst enemy
    And one reason they overplayed their hand was that it was very difficult to kill US troops, which prompted them to seek out other victims. Unfortunately for the terrorists, they chose potential allies as victims. OTOH, the Taliban certainly killed plenty of their countrymen when they were in power, so what the jihadists did in Iraq was not exactly a surprise.

    that our actions in Iraq actually gave them popular support longer than they would have ever been able to on their own.
    Again, what should our actions have been? Snark Snark Snark.

    There’s usually more than one path to a destination, and just because you might get there with one doesn’t mean you should congratulate yourself about having the best or even right idea.
    And instead of snarking around, what are you proposing?

  11. pst314 Says:

    For decades, American teachers and professors have indoctrinated their students in liberal guilt. It’s no surprise that so many Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of American victory.

  12. Recruiting Animal Says:

    We have been complaining for years that there are no marches or mass protests against the gruesome murders and mass killing in Iraq. The idea was that nobody cared.

    But this report says the opposite. That while there has been no marches down mainstreet it has nevertheless changed sides.

    Also, we get a lot of news from Afghanistan in Canada and it sure looks like we’re not winning.

  13. Jimmy J. Says:

    “Also, we get a lot of news from Afghanistan in Canada and it sure looks like we’re not winning.”

    It almost never lookl like youy’re winning in counter insurgency operations. However, nowhere in Afghanistan have the NATO forces suffered a military defeat. But that is the nature of fourth generation warfare. There are no climactic battles, no conquered territory, no army to defeat. Instead you have a lot of small engagements, usually on the insurgent’s terms, that take time and patience to deal with and establish some semblance of control. A wild, rugged, lightly populated country like Afghanistan is made to order for fourth generation warfare. Especially when the insurgents have a “safe zone” over the border in Pakistan to rest and recoup in.

    The Afghani army is coming along, but much more slowly than the Iraqis because NATO has a very small force there and the Afghanis are less modernized in attitude and adaptation than the Iraqis. Progress against a fourth generation force takes time, patience, and it seldom looks like you are winning until one day you notice the terrorism and the violence start tapering off.

    Eventually the Afghanis will be able to handle their own security. Some believe it isn’t worth the time, blood, and treasure, but a Muslim country that takes its place peacefully in the family of nations is a step toward ending Muslim terrorism worldwide.

  14. grackle Says:

    Of course, no one sees the possibility that we could have pursued terrorists with a more aggressive policy without spending upwards of a trillion dollars (at some point) and many thousands of lives.

    Vague platitudes. Words that say nothing specific.

    No one fathoms that the terrorists were in the process of overplaying their hand and were their own worst enemy — and that our actions in Iraq actually gave them popular support longer than they would have ever been able to on their own.

    A variation on the US Creates/Causes/Deserves Terrorists Meme.

    On popular support: The US seems to have popular support in Iraq at this moment. As I understand the surge strategy and the situation in Iraq the US wouldn’t be winning if the US didn’t have popular support. Apparently there are less terrorists sneaking around these days. For once the right thing happened; the surge continues to succeed and the issue of Iraqi poplar support is washed away by that success.

    But it should be understood that as a basic principle Iraqi popular support should never dictate what the US does in regards to Iraq. No more than popular support in Germany mandated what was done there during its occupation after WW2.

    There’s usually more than one path to a destination, and just because you might get there with one doesn’t mean you should congratulate yourself about having the best or even right idea.

    More platitudes. Somewhere below sloganeering and WAY below actual debate. No facts, no specifics, just a shaking of the finger at us bad pro-war types.

  15. strcpy Says:

    “Also, we get a lot of news from Afghanistan in Canada and it sure looks like we’re not winning.”

    There are two issues here.

    First is that for a long time in both world wars there was a long period of time where it sure looked like we were not winning (and in fact were not) – and that was true in any sense of that word. However – just as then – there are more states than “winning” and “loosing”, there is a false dichotomy being proposed here by the ones wanting us to loose.

    Secondly in this type of conflict “winning” is hard to define. Take Iraq – for how long did it appear, from the information being given to us, that we were loosing? Yet, were we? It depends on how one defines winning – if we define it as continually reducing casualties then no, we were not winning (in fact for a long time we were loosing). However we were winning of one defined it as reducing our opponents ability to wage war while increasing our own along with creating large areas of stability. Just that during that time they were expending HUGE amounts of resources to create casualty reports.

    Afghanistan is little different except that it is slower. We are loosing if you consider casualty reports. We are winning if you consider our opponents ability to wage war, our ability to wage war, and creating areas of stability.

    Reality is that the latter will *always* win if you hold out but the former makes for better press if you have a vested reason in loosing.

    While there is definitely a difference between winning/loosing and individual battle and doing so in a war the Battle of Bastogne is an easy example to see of the above: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bastogne There was never a time in there that it didn’t look like we would loose big time, yet it wasn’t very long into the battle that victory could be seen if you looked further than simple casualty and manpower equations. Had we had our current civilian “generals” in charge then the Battle of the Bulge would have been *vastly* different, as is we had military officers and enlisted in charge so it turned out right at the end (one will note that had the Germans known what the US soldier did then they would not have been as confident as they also realized that the stats we worry with now only count if other more important ones are in your favor).

    Our current military is no worse than those – I can assure you that the response would have been “nuts” from a HUGE portion of our current military and they would have sacrificed the same had they been in that situation and asked to surrender. Our current situation is positively rosy compared to then. Think on that when you read those stories of imminent defeat – think on what we endured then only to win with unconditional surrender. Our current soldiers are just as great as those were and would sacrifice all that they did back then, however we at home are not even remotely “The Greatest Generation”.

  16. harry McHitlerburtonstein the COnservative Extremist Says:

    You know what I think the problem is? Its been hinted at above, but may bear further exploration.

    No matter which perspective you look at it, a successful war on terror will always appear as a white male victory, rather than a freedom over tyranny issue. Thats why you will not be treated to more favorable stories even while they may elevate differing cultural or ethnic because it seems to have, in the end, a white male dominance perception to it. Thats why Europe backs away so. They dont like the self image.

    I also think thats part of Obama’s appeal. He’s black and somehow that alone will elevate others above the “post-racial”—”transcending politics” appeal, even though it’s obvious he’s no more different a democrat politician than the guys they’ve been fielding since Bill Clinton.

    But it’s appearance over substance that counts today, and if you happen to be white, black. red or brown, that means voting for the black guy for the style points and the camaraderie you feel for together voting for someone both for the vanity and the approval of others…

    Not the best reasons at all to cast a vote, is it?.

  17. Artfldgr Says:

    They reported someplace (i dont have time to look so sorry), that the reporting of iraq is way way way down… they gave figures, but they tracked the reporting against the condition, and as things got better, they stopped reporting. now there is barely any mention of the war compared to when they could arbitrarily assert that it was hopeless and the inability to assess made it a simple choice of who to believe.

  18. Brad Says:

    Art,
    I’ve seen those numbers too. I don’t remember exactly what the reduction in war coverage was, but it was (is) in the range of 90% or more.

    I also wonder what the evidence is for Osama still living. Seems that if he were alive he would be putting out more stuff to rally the troops.

  19. Truth Says:

    first of all evident in Iraq, where the head-hacking frenzy of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his associates so alienated the majority of Muslims that it gave rise to the so-called Sunni Awakening that enabled the surge to be so effective.

    The Myth of AQI

  20. Truth Says:

    The tendency will be to leave it at the lie: We fought and beat al-Qaeda in Iraq. But it’s a lie we’ll pay for later.

  21. Truth Says:

    We fought and beat al-Qaeda in Iraq. But it’s a lie we’ll pay for later

  22. Truth Says:

    1- ‘Al Qaeda In Iraq’: Part Myth, Part Manipulation

    2- The ‘myth’ of Iraq’s foreign fighters

    3- Iraq’s national security adviser, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie (Btw, he still get paied by CIA)in his recent visit to Saudi he handed Saudi OBL Al Qaeda terrorest caught in Iraq!!

  23. Promethea Says:

    SteveH Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 2:37 pm
    The answer lies in something liberals would rather not admit. A grudge holding punitive personalty trait that trumps most all mature reason.

    This isn’t just ideology that sees a Iraqui democracy an impossibility and global warming a fact of certainty. This is a pathological issue. As in something is mentally amiss.

    StevenH…I’ve just come back from a very strange place, surrounded by liberals who believe that “feelings” and “wishful thinking” always trump “facts.” Like A Rational Human, who commented on Dr. Sanity’s blog, I retain the firm belief that “facts” will always defeat wishful thinking.

    I’ve almost given up on the idea that liberals can ever change their minds. When confronted with facts, they immediately go to Plan B, i.e., attack the source of the facts. However, liberal Jews and other touchy-feely types will have to adapt or die.

    Thus speaketh Promethea

  24. huxley Says:

    I’ve almost given up on the idea that liberals can ever change their minds.

    Well, I’m an ex-leftist/liberal, as is neo herself. I still define myself as a “classic liberal.” For me, facts do trump wishful thinking and that’s why I left the left.

  25. FredHjr Says:

    huxley is right on the money. While I may not be a “classic liberal” (and I know what it means, unlike today’s so-called liberals), much of my thinking has gravitated over that way. I can relate to huxley because I’m a former Leftist too.

    Sometime around or after WWII “progressives” (code for “socialists”) changed their name to “liberals.” They did this to further cover up who they really were. “Communists” in the United States either called themselves “socialists” or “progressives.” Again, this was done in order to hide their identity and their agenda.

    I think the complete picture of why the media and much of the voting public seem muddled about what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan owes as much to ignorance as it does to positive hostility to the policy that has us fighting in those places. The Left began organizing resistance to the policy IMMEDIATELY after 9/11. Like, the day after. Gradually, their persistence has made inroads into the mainstream, to the point now where the Democrats are now the Party of Defeat. There is clear evidence at every step of the way that the MSM has been underreporting military success in the counterinsurgency in Iraq and over reporting the achievements of the insurgents and Islamic militants. As the security and military situation has been getting better and better, the news has been fading out. Anyone who claims that this is not the case, I accuse of a bad faith argument.

    Others above have very well described how counterinsurgency warfare is difficult to sustain on the home front, especially when the media is against the campaign to defeat the insurgents.

    I also accuse the President of not fighting hard to win the internal political war. He has not strapped it on and gone to fight with the MSM and his political opponents. And that has left a gaping hole that his enemies have driven right through.

  26. Jimmy J. Says:

    “I also accuse the President of not fighting hard to win the internal political war. He has not strapped it on and gone to fight with the MSM and his political opponents.”

    I don’t believe you give Bush enough credit. I watched him give speech after speech making the case for fighting the Islamists over there. I read most of those speeches and the words were well chosen and strong. However, the delivery was lacking. We all know Bush is not a gifted orator. Had an orator of Reagan’s caliber given those speeches they might have won over a lot of the public, which failed to get the message from Bush.

    Anything he did was criticised. He was criticised for go it alone diplomacy. But when he used Europe to negotiate with Iran and China, Japan and S. Korea to negotiate with N. Korea, that was bad.

    He tried to keep some of our strategy and tactics classified, but leakers gave the info to the NY Times and they accused him of underhanded secrecy. No, Bush could not win. Whatever he did was wrong.

    Had he knuckled under to the dems and pulled out of Iraq, he would have been blamed for the blood bath that followed.

    He tried to fight back, but the dems and the MSM have had a louder megaphone. At least that’s the way I see it.

  27. lumpenscholar Says:

    It seems simple to me, though maybe that means I’m being too simple. In their eyes, a victory in Iraq is a victory for Bush, and Bush is an evil man. Therefore, for them, victory in Iraq is a victory for evil.

  28. Ymarsakar Says:

    He tried to fight back, but the dems and the MSM have had a louder megaphone. At least that’s the way I see it.

    Nobody has a bigger microphone than the United States President.

    When a President or Emperor is beset by rebelling and traitorous nobles undermining him from within, he has to purge them or they will purge him first.

    Words are not enough, words are never enough. Without action, people will forget what you said just 5 days ago. People will forget what they themselves promised on New Year Eve without action to back their promises up.

    Bush has the biggest microphone because he can make people listen. His is the position of power and the source of where events and changes come from. If he refuses to conduct counter-insurgency on the main sewer media and the associated pirates, if he refuses to set traps for his enemies, if he refuses to do the opposite of what his enemies want and inspires the people with this resistance, then he is the one that is going to be attacked and will have to react to his enemies, not the other way around.

  29. Truth Says:

    Bush has the biggest microphone because he can make people listen.

    Woundr what people listesn from boush, all we know now his words are complete rubbish lies.

  30. grackle Says:

    Woundr what people listesn from boush, all we know now his words are complete rubbish lies.

    To this I issue my standard challenge to those who have a love affair with the Bush Lied myth: Please link to any actual, public record of any Bush lie. I want to see a link to a quote from Bush’s own mouth.

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