How Is The USA Handling The Conflict In Iraq?

A no-spin look at Iraq and how the USA is handling the conflict, that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."

Less than 24 hours after the New York Times (search) corrected its misreporting that I said war protesters Cindy Sheehan's (search) behavior was treasonous, the San Francisco Chronicle (search) did essentially the same thing.

In an editorial glorifying Ms. Sheehan, the Chronicle put forth, "Some conservatives, including talk-show host Bill O'Reilly, are now desperately trying to discredit [Cindy Sheehan.] They're calling her actions treasonous, or implying as much."

Again, that is absolutely false. I never said or implied Ms. Sheehan was treasonous. Now we asked the Chronicle publisher, Frank Vega (search), there he is, to order his editors to correct the record.

The New York Times has a sense of fairness and honor. We hope the San Francisco Chronicle will as well. We'll let you know tomorrow.

I've been quite clear about Ms. Sheehan. She is associating with the most radical elements in this country, no doubt about it. Some Americans who also lost loved ones in Iraq do indeed consider the woman's conduct treasonous. And they, as well as Ms. Sheehan, are entitled to their opinions.

Now we respect dissent, but we don't have time for extremism. If you want to take Cindy Sheehan seriously, knock yourself out. We did our job. We told you the truth, unlike the Chronicle, which should be ashamed.

Now on to Iraq. First off, if you want the USA to lose this fight in Iraq, you're a bad American. Everybody got that? You can oppose the action, but rooting for your country to lose is inexcusable.

At this point, the cut and run crowd has no case. If Iraq descends into chaos, yet another terrorist state will emerge. We removed one terror enabler, Saddam, and to allow another one to take his place is simply madness. It'd be like handing Afghanistan back to the Taliban (search). Again, the cut and run people are simply clueless.

So the USA must win the fight, but are we winning? Let's go to the stats. The USA has been calling the shots in Iraq for almost two and a half years. In July of 2004, there were 47 insurgent attacks every day in Iraq, according to a study by the Brookings Institution (search). In July of 2005, there were 70 daily attacks. Obviously, a big increase. In July of 2004, 54 U.S. service people were killed in Iraq. In July of 2005, 54 were killed as well.

And the latest Gallup poll says 56 percent of Americans believe the Iraq War is not going well. So those are the facts.

Now the mistake many Americans are making is to define the war in ideological terms. This conflict should be about performance, not a preconceived political viewpoint.

There's no question a free Iraq cooperating against worldwide terrorism would be a good thing. There's no question. So you can argue that the price the USA Is paying is too high. That's a legitimate debate, but rooting against a free Iraq is atrocious.

Now on the right, it's not enough to blindly support the Bush administration. All of us must demand victory. Things aren't going well, improve. Sure, war is hell, but wars are won by those who are smart and tough.

The president would be wise to replace Donald Rumsfeld (search) with a wartime military commander. The secretary is a patriot, but he's exhausted. New blood is needed at Defense.

And finally, the Iraqis themselves must understand it's their fight in the long run. Right now, lots of Iraqis are signing up, but their efficiency in battle is weak after two and a half years. That's got to change fast. American blood and treasure is giving its people the chance at freedom, but we can only do so much.

President Bush must know that only real progress will keep the American people from turning against him. I for one am praying for that progress. And that's “The Memo.”

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

More proof that airport security has run amuck.

Apparently, a number of American babies have been stopped from boarding planes because their names are the same as individuals on the government's no-fly list.

Ingrid Sanders' 1-year-old daughter was stopped from boarding in Phoenix, and Sarah Zaploski's 11-month-old son, I should say, was booted of a plane in D.C.

Ridiculous? Of course. Unless the kid's name is Baby bin Laden. Leave the babies alone. A grenade in the diaper? What?