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As predicted, the calls for the Left to acknowledge the success of the surge are increasing.  It was surprising to absolutely no one that throwing 30,000 more police officers into an area would result in lower crime rates, but that was not the purpose of the surge.  There are faint glimmers of political reconciliation in Iraq however.  Enough for the Right to finally declare that we're winning in Iraq, and demand the Left do the same.

The problem is that the Right has been declaring victory in Iraq non-stop for four years straight.  Widespread looting, the insurgency, all meant we were winning.  We were winning without the surge; we were winning with the surge.  Both the rise and fall of attacks on U.S. troops and Iraqi citizens meant we were somehow winning.  Bottom line:  the Right's record on defining 'victory' is horrible.  Why should we believe them now?

If the Right had treated Iraq as anything other than a political football the past four years they might have earned themselves a little more sympathy.  Instead of acknowledging any problems with Iraq they circled wagons and attacked Democrats as traitorous, treasonous supporters of terrorists.  In the mean time Iraq never got fixed.  We must remember that it wasn't until Iraq started hurting republicans politically that they decided to adjust their strategy.  By then it was too late though; their own base was complaining as well, and you don't get elected by calling your base traitors.

There was a moment when they could have headed the situation off by dealing with the problems in Iraq before conservatives started complaining, before the 2006 elections, before they had the gall to try and send Tony Snow out in front of the cameras and say "we've never been for staying the course" in Iraq.  There was a moment when the President could have addressed the nation, acknowledged errors, and asked the American people for their support in this continuing endeavor.  Instead, Bush spent 2006 going to republican rallies across the country saying vote for Democrats and the terrorists win.

In demanding the Left acknowledge the good news out of Iraq the right is looking for a soundbite and nothing more.  One aspect of Iraq has gone from awful to less awful; conservatives insist that fixing 10% of the problems is the equivalent of a 100% success in Iraq.  If those are the only two options the right is able or willing consider then Democrats are never going to give them their precious soundbites.  Iraq is politics to them, from beginning to end.  They have yet to show any compassion for the Iraqi people or the soldiers.  

If they truly think we're winning in Iraq then let them run on it in November.  Let the voters decide.  Until then their pathetic calls to remove politics from the Iraqi equation will fall on deaf ears.  They wanted to use Iraq as a political issue and they're going to continue to do so, whether they want to or not.

Originally posted to james richardson on Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 09:30 AM PST.

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