Last night CNN‘s Joe Johns first noted that not only is 75 percent of Baghdad now secure, but important signs of political progress were also emerging including de-Baathification. He then asked Hillary Clinton if she was “looking to end this war or win it?” Clinton responded:

Of course the surge, the so-called surge, was able to pacify certain parts of Iraq. … I think what is motivating the Iraqi government is the debate in the political campaign here. They know they will no longer have a blank check from George Bush, That I will with draw troops from Iraq. And I believe that will put even more pressure on the Iraqis to finally make the decisions that they have to make.

All this must have been news to an Iraqi cultural adviser referred to as al-Dulaimi by American contractor Nate Slate in 1/20s Washington Post. After watching a recent Democrat presidential debate, Al-Dulaimi asked, “They all talked about leaving Iraq. They’re just saying that to get votes aren’t they? They would never do that, would they?”

The problem for those who want to get out of Iraq as fast possible is, as Fareed Zakaria writes “they had their positions on Iraq worked out all last summer and have repeated them consistently. But the conditions on the ground have changed dramatically, and their rhetoric feels increasingly stale.” More and more journalists returning from Iraq are reaching the exact same conclusion. Returning from an embed with the Minnesota National Guard Unit Pulitzer Prize winning journalist John Camp reported, “The American presence there just seems huge. It seems like we’re getting ready to stay there for a very long time. You having a feeling that a good part of the story in Iraq just isn’t being written.” Freelance photographer Eric Bowen added, “February of last year, if you asked someone if we’re winning the war, they’d roll their eyes, and go yeah, right. You go this year, and people actually say, yeah, we’re actually making great progress.”

Writing in the Washington Post, AEI scholar Fred Kagan, Brookings Scholar Michael O’Hanlon, and ret. Gen. Jack Keane explain that the current progress in Iraq has nothing to do with anti-war leader fantasies about Iraqis believing Americans will put out, and everything to do with the current ‘surge’ strategy. They go on to warn that reducing troop numbers to below pre-surge levels would repeat the same mistakes President Bush made immediately following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. They warn: “Reducing forces in Iraq too rapidly, however, even by one or two brigades, might seriously jeopardize the tenuous success we are seeing. We should not take that risk.” Let’s hope the anti-war crowd wakes up to this reality

Quick Hits:

  • Bureaucrats in Brussels have issued regulations that will force Britain to build thousands of wind turbines. The EU edict will dramatically alter the skyline of Britain and its coastal waters and will cost British consumers close to $12 billion a year.
  • President Bush is set to cave in to Congressional appropriators on earmarks. The White House will acknowledge that fiscal conservatives are right to point out that the Executive Branch is not legally bound to spend money on pet projects inserted into committee reports, but will go ahead and spend it anyway.
  • A senior Iranian lawmaker warned the Netherlands on Monday not to allow the screening of what it called an anti-Islamic film produced by a Dutch politician, claiming it “reflects insulting views about the Holy Koran.”
  • Michigan became the latest state begin compliance with the 9/11 Commission suggested REAL ID Act by denying driving licenses to illegal immigrants.