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Commentary: Iraq victory possible, if we want it

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  • Beck: May 2008 held lowest rate of troop fatalities since beginning of the war
  • "It's important to recognize what an opportunity we have right now," says Beck
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By Glenn Beck
CNN
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Editor's note: "Glenn Beck" is on CNN Headline News nightly at 7 and 9 ET and hosts a conservative national radio talk show.

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck says, "After a solid year of significant gains, pessimism still rules."

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Perhaps it was the mental stress of preparing for a book tour in which she had to sell a marriage-destroying affair as a heartwarming memory. But before her book was released, Barbara Walters had this to say to Elisabeth Hasselbeck about Iraq on "The View" on April 8, 2008:

Hasselbeck: I think the surge has probably been one of the most effective strategies in this war.

Walters: No, it has not.

Hasselbeck: Oh, I disagree I think it absolutely has.

Walters: I think a few weeks ago it was considered that. Now there has been more violence than there has been in many months.

First of all, a "few weeks" of an upturn in violence shouldn't negate "many months" of progress. But was Barbara Walters even right?

Looking at the site icasualties.org provides the answers. There had been a short-term spike in violence, but only compared with already significantly decreased post-surge levels.

Even with this spike, in the three weeks prior to her comments, coalition troop death rates had fallen by 62 percent from the previous May and were lower than the average rate of every previous year of the war.

With the benefit of hindsight, we can look back and ask: Was this really a sign of an upcoming turn for the worse in Iraq?

The following month after Walter's comments, May 2008, held the lowest rate of troop fatalities of any month since the beginning of the war -- as they decreased by 84 percent since the same month a year earlier. I'm not sure if Hasselbeck received an apology.

This is not to say that Iraq won't become more violent -- the situation is still delicate. And, I'm not trying to beat up on Barbara Walters, she herself pointed out that she's no expert on these matters, and she's surely a legendary journalist.

But she's not alone in trying to dismiss the successes of the surge with such certainty and such lack of evidence.

It seems that for so many in the media and elsewhere, there is an incredible desire to find the negative. It's an unquenchable thirst. How else could an essentially fired former press secretary's questionable claims about the war be more important to cover than improvement in the actual war?

Widely reported or not, we have made great progress.

Terrorism worldwide has decreased by 40 percent since 2001, according to a Canadian study. The Iraqis have gained control of Basra and Sadr City. Iraqi oil outputs have hit a post-war high.

U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker said, "You are not going to hear me say that al Qaeda is defeated, but they've never been closer to defeat than they are now."

CIA Director Michael Hayden says we are witnessing, "near strategic defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for al Qaeda globally." He says Osama bin Laden had "largely forfeited his ability to exploit the Iraq War to recruit adherents," according to The Washington Post. Such claims warrant a close and sober inspection, but the momentum is unquestionably on our side.

Yet, after a solid year of significant gains, pessimism still rules.

This is not a new phenomenon. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi wrote "as many had foreseen, the escalation has failed to produce the intended results." They made this statement on June 13, 2007 -- three days before the surge was even fully implemented and three months before the military had said it was fair to judge the progress.

I'm not naïve. I understand that regardless of the actual progress, they were going to say it wasn't working anyway. But if I may borrow some Eliot Spitzer-esque language: Don't we pay them enough to at least fake their sincerity?

I have been a supporter of our efforts in Iraq from the beginning, although I've harshly criticized our tactics many times. But, it's important to recognize what an opportunity we have right now.

We can win.

This is not about politics. Our winning this war does not mean that you have to vote for John McCain. I might not even vote for McCain.

Some Democrats have claimed responsibility for the success of the surge, saying that they forced Bush into changing strategies. Fine.

Nancy Pelosi says some of the success of the surge is based on the "the goodwill of the Iranians." Whatever. We can argue about that later. After we've won.

I'm not asking you to think the war was a good idea, I'm just asking you to think winning the war is a good idea. We know where we've been. Now, let's all honestly look at where we are. We haven't seen a situation this promising for some time, let's take advantage of it. I'm sure Barbara Walters will agree.

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