RALPH PETERS ON JOHN WARNER: Peters, writing from Fallujah, isn't impressed:
Although this trend has been reported, our battlefield leaders here agree that the magnitude of the shift hasn't registered back home: Al Qaeda is on the verge of a humiliating, devastating strategic defeat - rejected by their fellow Sunni Muslims.
If we don't quit, this will not only be a huge practical win - it'll be the information victory we've been aching for.
No matter what the Middle Eastern media might say, everyone in the Arab and greater Sunni Muslim world will know that al Qaeda was driven out of Iraq by a combination of Muslims and Americans.
Think that would help al Qaeda's recruitment efforts? Even now, the terrorists have to resort to lies about their prospective missions to gain recruits.
With the sixth anniversary of 9/11 approaching, how dare we throw away so great a potential victory over those who attacked our country?
Forget the anti-war nonsense you hear. The truth is that our troops want to continue this struggle. I know. I'm here. And I'm listening to what they have to say. They're confident as never before that we're on the right path.
Should we rob them of their victory now and enhance al Qaeda by giving them a free win? How can we even contemplate quitting now?
I've been sitting down with Iraqis, too - including former enemies. They don't want us to leave. They finally cracked the code. They need us. And although they've got a range of their own goals (not all of them tending toward Jeffersonian democracy), they're unified in their hatred of al Qaeda.
I'm not either, but for a different , or at least additional, reason. First, Warner's been saying similar stuff for quite a while, and it's funny that the press is making a big deal of it -- perhaps to overshadow the more significant about-face by Democratic Rep. Brian Baird. And Petraeus has talked about a troop pulldown already too. This looks like Warner trying to take credit for something that will probably happen anyway. In other words, Washington as usual. Warner, it's true, doesn't come off that well.
Meanwhile, notice that pretty much all the reporting from Iraq is more positive than the talk in Washington? As Damien Cave of the New York Times observed:
I talked to a commander the other day who said that the political debate at home is bizarro-land and something that he doesn't connect with at all. . . . it's funny, one of the things that comes up a lot here among commanders and among the press corps is the way that the debate at home seems to be mainly focused on the impact on Washington or among constituents.
Well, that's how they look at everything, I suppose. But you expect better when a war is involved.