The debate is raging in the nation and particularly in Congress as to what path to take in the Iraq War. Kimberly Kagan writes in the Wall Street Journal that the 'surge' strategy launched recently is making a serious difference.
Reports from the field show that remarkable progress is being made. Violence in Baghdad and Anbar Province is down dramatically, grassroots political movements have begun in the Sunni Arab community, and American and Iraqi forces are clearing al Qaeda fighters and Shiite militias out of long-established bases around the country.
J. D. Johannes says pretty much the same thing at TCS Daily, but goes on to analyze how media reports shape public perception and knowledge, or lack thereof, about the war.
But in the flush of battlefield success, public perception of American military progress continued its calamitous decline. According to Pew Research, the percentage of Americans who opine that America's military operations are "going well" slid from 38% in May '07 to 34% in June; those who believe our military operations are "not going well" increased from 57% of respondents to 61%.
The same Pew poll found that only 30% of the public could identify General David Patraeus and only 27% could identify Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. 59% of respondents were unaware that Shi'ites constitute the majority religious group in Iraq. Precise knowledge of the war's progress is obviously scarce. Yet 95% of respondents have defined opinions on the success of our arms.
It is tragic that this strategy might have saved much bloodshed if it had been implemented several years earlier, But this would not be the first war in history that an effective strategy was only taken after tragic and frustrating stalemate.
If you think you really know what is going on in Iraq, check out the continuing dispatches from independent journalist Michael Yon, embedded with US and Iraqi troops. These reports convey the harsh daily reality of war along with the increasing successes, and most of all, the horrific consequences of failure.