Given Hurricane Gustav, the GOP convention—and the MSM's inherent inclination to underreport good news from Iraq—a major story is not getting the attention it deserves. Here's how President Bush described the development [the photo shows U.S. Marine Maj. Gen John Kelly and Anbar Governor Maamoun Sami Rashid signing the handover papers. (AP Photo/Wathiq Khuzaie, Pool)]:
Today in Iraq, responsibility for security in Anbar Province was transferred to Iraqi civilian authorities. Iraqi forces will now take the lead in security operations in Anbar, with American troops moving into an overwatch role. Not long ago, Anbar was one of the most dangerous provinces in Iraq. Al Qaeda was in control of almost every major population center, and its leaders intended to turn Anbar province into a safe haven from which to plan and launch further attacks against Iraqis and others in the region, as well as here at home.
Today, Anbar is no longer lost to al Qaeda - it is al Qaeda that lost Anbar. Iraqis - like countless other Muslims across the world - witnessed al Qaeda's brutality first-hand and rejected it. As a result, Anbar has been transformed and reclaimed by the Iraqi people. This achievement is a credit to the courage of our troops, the Iraqi Security Forces, and the brave tribes and other civilians from Anbar who worked alongside them.
On this red-letter day, will the MSM take a walk down memory lane and cite the various members of the media and the body politic who declared the surge a failure and Anbar lost? Being the obliging souls we are, here's a handy compendium of citations, starting with one from the vice-presidential candidate so acclaimed for his foreign-policy expertise.
Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE): "Even with the surge of troops, in a city [Baghdad] of 6 million people you're talking about a ratio that would still be roughly above one to 100. It's bound to draw down support that we need in other parts of Iraq, including Anbar province. Just thinking that somehow 30,000 forces are going to change the circumstances … what does that do to change the dynamic in Anbar province?" (Senator Joseph Biden, Conference Call With Reporters, 12/26/06)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV): "It's interesting. We have had, this week, the colonel in charge of Anbar Province say that it's a civil war; it's been lost." (PBS's "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer," 9/13/06)
"The situation on the ground has not changed in Iraq. I say that without equivocation. It's changed in Anbar province, but that's all." (Senator Harry Reid, Senate Press Conference, 9/12/07)
"Well, it's changed in one province, one area of Iraq. Of course it's changed there. But it's like the big balloon that you push on one side, and it comes out someplace else." (Senator Harry Reid, Senate Press Conference, 9/12/07)
Rep. John Murtha (D-PA): "It's worse today than it was six months ago when I spoke out initially. When I spoke out, the garbage wasn't being collected, oil production below pre-war level – all those things indicated to me we weren't winning this, and it's the same today, if not worse. Anbar Province. There's not one project been done in Anbar Province. Two million people live there. They have no water at all, no oil production, they have no electricity at all in that province where is the heartland of the defense. The first six months we went in there, no – there – not a shot was fired, so it shows you how it's changed." (Congressman John Murtha, NBC's "Meet The Press," 6/18/06)
Senator Jim Webb (D-VA): "Gen. Petraeus was advancing the success in Anbar Province as evidence that the surge is working and I thought it was very important in terms of the facts of the matter to point out that the successes in Anbar are…began well before the surge and my son's battalion the first 6th Marines basically took Ramadi back block by block and street by street [in] September, October, November, December of last year and not to in any way diminish the command perspective of Gen. Petraeus but it's wrong to say that was due to the surge." (Senator Jim Webb, C-SPAN's "Newsmakers," 9/16/07)
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY): "Now, some have argued that the surge in Iraq is working. But, Mr. President, all you have to do is look at the facts to know that that is not the case. The President went to Anbar Province, which at the moment he is touting as a place of success, but we all know what's happening in Iraq. Many other provinces are in terrible shape. In Iraq you get the certain sense that when you push on one end of the balloon and make things a little better, something pops out at another end." (Senator Charles Schumer, Congressional Record, 9/5/07)
"And the fallacy of the President's new policy is just amazing. Are we placing our faith in the future of Iraq in the hands of some tribal leaders who at the moment dislike al Qaeda more than they dislike us? Make no mistake about it. They're no friends of Americans. "
"We've heard of success stories every six or eight months. This province, this town, this city. ‘They're cleared, they're safe.' And then because of the basic facts on the ground, we revert to the old situation. And let me be clear: the violence in Anbar has gone down despite the surge, not because of the surge."
"And as I said, Mr. President, we've heard about successes in the past. They're temporary. They're not based on any permanent structural change or any permanent change in the views of Iraqi citizens. We've heard about success in Baghdad and we've heard about success in Fallujah and they vanish like the wind."
"So now, at a time when the American people are crying out for a change in course, some are pointing to a temporary situation in one province – Anbar – based on a few warlords, who don't believe in democracy and who don't like America, as a way to continue the present misguided policy? It makes no sense. It makes no sense because the fundamentals in Iraq stay the same. There is no central government that has any viability. The Shiites, the Kurds and the Sunnis dislike one another far more than they like or want any central government, and these two facts doom the administration policy for failure. "
Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI): "The number of attacks have increased with our presence there. In al-Anbar province, which is, people say, this is a civil war, a sectarian war - no, that's all Sunni. Fallujah, Ramadi – that isn't a civil war situation, it is just a situation where our presence – even our generals have suggested this – is a stimulant to terrorist activity." (Senator Russell Feingold, Remarks To The National Press Club, Washington, D.C., 5/8/06)
MSNBC: Keith Olbermann: "The message is, stay the course. But in the huge Anbar Province, word from our military is that we've already lost there politically. (MSNBC’s “Countdown,” 9/12/06)
CNN: Michael Ware: "Wolf, it's absolutely nightmarish and the Washington Post story is an old one. U.S. military intelligence has been saying this about Ramadi for a year and a half. I've been going out there since 2003. I've watched the steady decline. Quite frankly, America is not committed to the fight. It is known – it is a stated fact that this is the headquarters of al Qaeda in Iraq, yet American commanders privately off camera will tell you that we only have a third of the troops there that are needed to even begin to make a dent in al Qaeda – Wolf." (CNN's "The Situation Room," 9/11/07)
"Well, it's not losing military. The boys out there are just simply holding the line. But they've been put into the meat grinder for the sake of concentrating troops in Baghdad. Politically it's an absolute disaster out there. The potential American allies out there are essentially the Baath Party and the Sunnis. Now these Sunnis – I spoke to one of these insurgents this morning. I spoke to some Ramadi sheiks, and I spoke to Iraqi police in Ramadi, as well as American commanders."
"The best that they say they can hope to do is disrupt al Qaeda … What does this do … This does two things. One, it allows al Qaeda to breathe and arguably become stronger.
CNN: Miles O'Brien: "Winning the battle but losing the war, that is the dire assessment contained in a secret U.S. military report about Iraq's Al Anbar Province. That report saying a shortage of U.S. troops a large part of the problem there." (CNN's "American Morning," 9/12/06)
CNN: Jamie McIntyre (voice-over): Iraq's sprawling Anbar province west of Baghdad is insurgent territory and headquarters for al Qaeda in Iraq. Anbar is also lost politically, according to a classified analysis by a Marine colonel summarized in the "The Washington Post" by Tom Ricks…” (CNN’s “American Morning,” 9/13/06)
NBC: Jim Miklaszewski: "That's [Anbar Province] the no-man's land in western Iraq that has seen some of the fiercest fighting of the war, in places like Fallujah, Hit and the provincial capital Ramadi, which the US military has never controlled. The top secret report by a Marine Corps intelligence officer says there's no chance the US military can end insurgent violence in al Anbar. There's no viable government institutions or chance for political progress any time soon. Even more ominous, al-Qaeda has been rushing in to fill that political vacuum. And military officials say that al-Qaeda's also recruiting increasing numbers of Iraqi Sunnis to join that terrorist group." (NBC's "Nightly News" 9/12/06)
"Now the top US commander in Iraq said today there has been some military and economic progress, but for the first time it appears that the US is preparing to eventually concede a large piece of Iraq to the enemy and leave it entirely up to the Iraqis themselves to sort it out."
The Washington Post: "The chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq recently filed an unusual secret report concluding that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there." (Thomas E. Ricks, "Situation Called Dire in West Iraq, Anbar Is Lost Politically, Marine Analyst Says," The Washington Post, 9/11/06)
"Another person familiar with the report said it describes Anbar as beyond repair; a third said it concludes that the United States has lost in Anbar."
"[N]ot only are military operations facing a stalemate, unable to extend and sustain security beyond the perimeters of their bases, but also local governments in the province have collapsed and the weak central government has almost no presence."
"It's hard to be optimistic right now,' said one Army general who has served in Iraq. 'There's a sort of critical mass of tough news,' he said, with intensifying violence from the insurgency and between Sunnis and Shiites, a lack of effective Iraqi government and a growing concern that Iraq may be falling apart."