Discussing Gen. David Petraeus' recent congressional testimony regarding the war in Iraq, a September 14 Pueblo Chieftain editorial mischaracterized the views of "two members of the liberal Brookings Institute" who wrote "an op-ed piece admitting" that the war's escalation "has been largely successful." Contrary to the Chieftain's implication that Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack had been opponents of the war, in fact, both have been influential proponents since before the invasion. The Chieftain also equated Democrats' opposition to the war with the actions of "the Bolsheviks ... when they took control of Russia."
In a September 14 editorial about Gen. David Petraeus' recent congressional testimony regarding progress in Iraq, The Pueblo Chieftain misleadingly stated that "two members of the liberal Brookings Institute" wrote "an op-ed piece admitting" that the so-called "surge" of U.S. forces in Iraq "has been largely successful." Contrary to the Chieftain's suggestion, the authors of the op-ed -- Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution -- have consistently supported military action in Iraq since before the March 2003 invasion. The Chieftain editorial also likened Democratic opposition to the war in advance of the 2008 election to "how the Bolsheviks acted when they took control of Russia."
As the senior U.S. military commander in Iraq, Petraeus was compelled to testify on progress in Iraq by H.R. 2206, the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007. The Act also mandated a report on progress in Iraq by the Government Accountability office (GAO), which, as Media Matters for America has noted, reached conclusions about levels of violence in Iraq that differed from Petraeus' testimony. O'Hanlon and Pollack wrote their op-ed, which appeared in The New York Times on July 30, after a private trip that Pollack acknowledged was "largely organized by the military," as Media Matters has noted.
From the editorial "War of nerves" in the September 14 edition of The Pueblo Chieftain:
Gen. David Petraeus gave his report to Congress on the progress of the surge in Iraq this week. Unfortunately, a majority of Democratic members seemed to turn a tin ear to what he said, or chose not to hear at all.
Gen. Petraeus prefaced his report by saying, "... I would like to note that this is my testimony. Although I have briefed my assessment and recommendations to my chain of command, I wrote this testimony myself. It has not been cleared by, nor shared with, anyone in the Pentagon, the White House, or Congress."
However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid later labeled the remarks a "White House report." The general barely got out the Capitol door before Senate Democrats rejected his recommendation to maintain a troop strength in Iraq at about 130,000 through next summer. They also sought legislation that would limit the mission of American forces.
That would be counterproductive at this point. As Gen. Petraeus noted, "the military objectives of the surge are, in large measure being met."
He went on, "Coalition and Iraqi security forces have achieved progress in the security arena. Though the improvements have been uneven across Iraq, the overall number of security incidents in Iraq has declined in eight of the past 12 weeks, with the numbers of incidents in the last two weeks at the lowest levels seen since June 2006."
That observation recently was made by two members of the liberal Brookings Institute, who saw with their own eyes what's happening due to the surge and returned to the States to write an op-ed piece admitting that the surge has been largely successful. The same has been reported in the Wall Street Journal and National Review.
Contrary to the Chieftain's suggestion that O'Hanlon and Pollack's assessment of military progress in Iraq went against their purportedly liberal inclinations, Media Matters has noted that both O'Hanlon and Pollack were influential proponents of the Iraq war since before the invasion. Pollack wrote The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq (Random House, October 2002). Furthermore, O'Hanlon publicly supported President Bush's surge policy and wrote a January 2007 piece in support of the troop escalation, claiming that it was "the right thing to try."
The Chieftain also suggested that the opposition of liberal Democrats to the war was motivated by electoral calculation, analogizing such opposition to the actions of the Bolsheviks who ended the Russian government's participation in World War I following their seizure of power in November 1917:
But the liberals who populate most of the Democratic Party in Washington see unease with the war as their ticket to consolidate their power. Reminds us of how the Bolsheviks acted when they took control of Russia.