Part of the reason I'm working on administrative tasks today is because next week will be very busy. It will be the climax of the domestic political battle over the Iraq War. General Petraeus will give his report on the progress of the surge—a report that is almost certain to argue that the current counter-insurgency strategy is working and needs to be allowed to continue. The Democrats and the left-leaning media will then attempt to ignore, twist, or discredit that report.
I don't think they will succeed—but that won't stop them from trying. In fact, the press is already preparing the ground. The Washington Post has been particularly obvious in its campaign for defeat, filling every issue this week with a long article attempting to explain away any evidence of success in Iraq. One such article, for example, dismisses as a "Potemkin Village" an outdoor market in Baghdad that had been deserted a year ago and is now bustling with commerce after al-Qaeda fighters were routed from the neighborhood. Kimberly Kagan answers that dishonest argument here.
In a similar vein, the Democratic Congress released its own report on Iraq, critiqued here, which analyzes the progress of the surge according to standards engineered to guarantee the conclusion that it has failed.
But I don't think any of this is going to override the testimony of the top commander in Iraq—so the Democrats have now stooped to attempting to smear General Petraeus. The Washington Times reports on the Democrats' attempt to dismiss Petraeus as an unscrupulous mouthpiece for the Bush administration. How can they contradict the judgment of the top commander in the field? Easy: according to Nancy Pelosi, "The facts are self-evident that the progress is not being made."
The Democrats ran last November on a platform of defeat—and the party's leaders are staying loyal to that goal. But attacking Petraeus strikes me as a desperate expedient, and one that is likely to backfire. If this is what they're counting on, I think the Democrats are going to lose.
And remember that the stakes in this conflict go well beyond Iraq. A self-inflicted defeat in Iraq would be so demoralizing that it would quash any effort to assert our military power against the Iranian regime. But if we persist in our counter-insurgency strategy, further success might free up the military and political resources for a confrontation with Iran.
In fact, that process has already begun. As they begin to feel that they are once again backing a winning cause in Iraq, commentators on the right are emboldened and are beginning to focus more effort on, for example, advocating the bombing of terrorist training camps inside Iran.