Ambrose: Anti-war extremists furthering defeatist agenda 

Things are getting better in Iraq but worse in Washington, where war opponents will ignore any fact, evade any reality, call any honorable person a liar and risk any genocidal, terrorist-aiding consequence to further their defeatist agenda.

Gen. David Petraeus, the straightforward, utterly brilliant, tough but scholarly commander of U.S. troops in the war, did not dismiss the difficulties as he outlined progress in the struggle during his congressional testimony.

But any talk of decreasing sectarian violence and other improvements is like a rattlesnake on the dinner table to many in the anti-war crowd.

Two analysts discovering as much were Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack of The Brookings Institution, self-described Democrats who had been deeply critical of President George W. Bush’s conduct of the war. Yet after a trip to Iraq, they reported lower civilian fatality rates, economic advances, tactical successes and the strengthening of Iraqi forces following the surge.

They did not then say the war was won — only that we should keep at it at least into next year.

For their efforts, however, they were made out to be wild-eyed, dishonest firebrands by political assault troops without a fraction of their analytical skills, training, information, years of careful study or close contacts with military leaders and others keenly knowledgeable about Iraqi circumstances.

From the start, there have been solid, respectable reasons tooppose the war and to wish some sort of strategically wise conclusion to it. But also from the start, there has also been more than a whiff of fanaticism from some opponents who have made it out to be nothing more than a bid for oil resources and a lie about weapons of mass destruction.

That fact seems almost forgotten now, as do the facts that Saddam was busily bribing his way out of sanctions and could have amassed some WMD very quickly if he wanted. He did have links with terrorists, even though he almost certainly did not collaborate with them on the 9/11 attacks. Of course, President George W. Bush never said he had.

The anti-war extremists were accusing Petraeus of deception even prior to his call to postpone the beginning of major troop withdrawals for at least six months. They simply sneer when asked to consider this truth, spoken in a speech by Bush:

"For all those who ask whether the fight in Iraq is worth it, imagine an Iraq where militia groups backed by Iran control large parts of the country. Imagine an Iraq where al-Qaida has established sanctuaries to safely plot future attacks on targets all over the world, including America."

The extremists treat such speculations as smoke and mirrors, but they might as well also treat Iran as a nation whose leaders wish us no harm, the late Saddam Hussein as an abettor of Middle East stability, the decades-old, ever-growing menace of terrorism as a consequence of Bush administration policies or the advice of Gen. Petraeus as something other than judicious.

You say they already do all of these things? Yes, they do, as proof of their irresponsibility in the face of jeopardy.

Examiner columnist Jay Ambrose is a former editor of two daily newspapers. He may be reached at SpeaktoJay@aol.com

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