Barnes: War in Iraq is "not intensifying"; U.S. troops "aren't the targets"

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On the November 17 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes said the war in Iraq is "not intensifying." He added later: "[Rep. John Murtha (D-PA)] says U.S. troops are the targets now. They aren't the targets. It's Iraqi citizens, mainly Shiites, who are the targets." Barnes's remarks came during a discussion of Murtha's November 17 news conference, in which the congressman stated:

MURTHA: I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis. I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid-December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice: The United States will immediately redeploy -- immediately redeploy.

[...]

It's time to bring them home. They've done everything they can do. The military has done everything they can do.

[...]

I think that you get them out of there in six months. I think that we could do it -- you have to do it in a very consistent way, but I think six months would be a reasonable time to get them out of there.

But contrary to Barnes's assertion that the war in Iraq is "not intensifying" and that U.S. troops "aren't the targets," October was the fourth-deadliest month for U.S. troops since the war began in March 2003.

From the November 17 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:

BARNES: Well, I think the pro-war side would win that debate. On the other hand, I think it would be a very useful debate, rather than some debate over whether or not the president lied about intelligence or not. That's just Democratic accusations that I think are not true. You know, John Murtha is a patriot. And he is a guy who has been a very pro-defense Democrat over the years. But, Brit, you correctly note that he has been steadily moving in an anti-war direction as far as Iraq is concerned for a couple of years now.

I think he's just plain wrong in some of the things he said. And I certainly disagree with some of the others. But here is what he is wrong about, Brit. You raised one of them. And that is, he says the war is intensifying. It's not intensifying. He says what's happened is the insurgents used to be able to carry out guerilla attacks, now all they can do are terrorist attacks. He says U.S. troops are the targets.

BRIT HUME (host): No, you said that.

BARNES: Huh?

HUME: You said that. You said that all they can do is terrorist attacks.

BARNES: Is terrorist attacks, I know, but that's true. I'm not making that up.

HUME: He's not saying that.

BARNES: No, but he says the war is -- he says the war is intensifying. I'm saying it's gone from a war in which the insurgents could make guerilla attacks, in other words, groups -- large groups of people, now all they can do are terrorist attacks with one or two people involved. He says U.S. troops are the targets now. They aren't the targets. It's Iraqi citizens, mainly Shiites, who are the targets. He says America and the U.S. military are at risk there. I don't think they are at risk with our troops there. I don't think our country is at risk or the military is.

HUME: Well, it is if we continue to lose people.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Stories/Interests
American Military Capability
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