Brit Hume: 'Even the AP is Acknowledging' Progress in Iraq

“The progress in Iraq is so undeniable that now even the Associated Press is acknowledging it,” FNC's Brit Hume marveled Tuesday night. Citing a Saturday AP dispatch by Robert Burns, the AP's chief military reporter, and Robert Reid, its Baghdad bureau chief (Saturday NB post by Noel Sheppard on their article), Hume relayed how the story “says insurgents no longer have the clout to threaten the viability of Iraq’s government” and it declared, “quote: 'The United States is now winning the war that two years ago seemed lost.'”

In the “Grapevine” segment, Hume reported “the analysis goes on to say that systematic killings in Baghdad have all but ended, violence is at a four-year low and that the combat phase of the war is now ending.” With matching text on screen, Hume concluded with how the AP duo wrote: “In Baghdad, parks are filled every weekend with families playing and picnicking with their children. That was unthinkable only a year ago.”

An excerpt from the the July 26 article, “Analysis: U.S. now winning Iraq war that seemed lost,” by Robert Burns and Robert H. Reid (as posted by Yahoo, as posted by Google):
The United States is now winning the war that two years ago seemed lost. Limited, sometimes sharp fighting and periodic terrorist bombings in Iraq are likely to continue, possibly for years. But the Iraqi government and the U.S. now are able to shift focus from mainly combat to mainly building the fragile beginnings of peace -- a transition that many found almost unthinkable as recently as one year ago.

Despite the occasional bursts of violence, Iraq has reached the point where the insurgents, who once controlled whole cities, no longer have the clout to threaten the viability of the central government.

That does not mean the war has ended or that U.S. troops have no role in Iraq. It means the combat phase finally is ending, years past the time when President Bush optimistically declared it had. The new phase focuses on training the Iraqi army and police, restraining the flow of illicit weaponry from Iran, supporting closer links between Baghdad and local governments, pushing the integration of former insurgents into legitimate government jobs and assisting in rebuilding the economy.

Scattered battles go on, especially against al-Qaida holdouts north of Baghdad. But organized resistance, with the steady drumbeat of bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and ambushes that once rocked the capital daily, has all but ceased.

This amounts to more than a lull in the violence. It reflects a fundamental shift in the outlook for the Sunni minority, which held power under Saddam Hussein. They launched the insurgency five years ago. They now are either sidelined or have switched sides to cooperate with the Americans in return for money and political support....

Iraq still faces a mountain of problems: sectarian rivalries, power struggles within the Sunni and Shiite communities, Kurdish-Arab tensions, corruption. Any one of those could rekindle widespread fighting.

But the underlying dynamics in Iraqi society that blew up the U.S. military's hopes for an early exit, shortly after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, have changed in important ways in recent months.

Systematic sectarian killings have all but ended in the capital, in large part because of tight security and a strategy of walling off neighborhoods purged of minorities in 2006.

That has helped establish a sense of normalcy in the streets of the capital. People are expressing a new confidence in their own security forces, which in turn are exhibiting a newfound assertiveness with the insurgency largely in retreat.

Statistics show violence at a four-year low. The monthly American death toll appears to be at its lowest of the war -- four killed in action so far this month as of Friday, compared with 66 in July a year ago. From a daily average of 160 insurgent attacks in July 2007, the average has plummeted to about two dozen a day this month. On Wednesday the nationwide total was 13.

Beyond that, there is something in the air in Iraq this summer.

In Baghdad, parks are filled every weekend with families playing and picnicking with their children. That was unthinkable only a year ago, when the first, barely visible signs of a turnaround emerged....
Hume's item in full on the Tuesday, July 29 Special Report:
The progress in Iraq is so undeniable that now even the Associated Press is acknowledging it. An AP dispatch Monday declared, quote: "Organized resistance has all but ceased in Iraq."

The article written by the AP's Baghdad bureau chief and its chief military reporter says insurgents no longer have the clout to threaten the viability of Iraq’s government. It says, quote: "The United States is now winning the war that two years ago seemed lost." The analysis goes on to say that systematic killings in Baghdad have all but ended, violence is at a four-year low and that the combat phase of the war is now ending.

It adds, quote: "In Baghdad, parks are filled every weekend with families playing and picnicking with their children. That was unthinkable only a year ago," end quote.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center