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December 11, 2007 10:47 PM UTC

Perlmutter "Sees Hope" in Improving Iraq Situation

  • by: Colorado Pols

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden) has been a consistent critic of the Iraq war since being elected to Congress last year, and has reliably voted in a way that has pleased the anti-war left: voting for withdrawal timetables, cutting off funds, etc.

Perlmutter just returned from Iraq as part of a congressional delegation, and had some surprising insights to share with the Rocky Mountain News late last week:

You wrote on your Web site that this is the most interesting trip that you’ve ever taken. Why?

Personally, it was a stretch to go to the Middle East. My kids did not want me to go, and I feel a real sense of what families must feel when someone’s deployed over there…

In talking with our men and women up there, there had been a change in the level of stability, remarkably, over the last six to eight months.

What do you have to say about this war that you didn’t have to say before?

That there’s a glimmer of hope that I didn’t expect, that I didn’t see until I went there and saw it firsthand. But the glimmer has to be capitalized on. Is it a sustained level of stability, or is this a temporary cease-fire? And so I guess there’s a long way to go. The window for progress is really narrow here and the coalition forces, the U.S., need to provide expertise to restore services and infrastructure so that the Iraqis can then build on it and take this place over. The Iraqi patience is not going to be long, and certainly our patience here in the U.S. is not long.

Thematically it sounds like you’ve got a layered message that says in part that the surge is working, but it’s working because of a strong voice of American dissent about the war and about the need to move out quickly.

I think it’s a combination. There’s three things that have brought some additional stability. One is a different tactic by (Gen. David) Petraeus, which is the surge – to go clear and hold a neighborhood, as opposed to clear a neighborhood and go someplace else. The second key point is the Iraqi army is starting to develop into a legitimate force. And then the third . . . is that the Sunnis and the Shias recognize that we’re not there forever and the cooperation level has increased. So those three things together have given this window of opportunity.

A poll follows.

Will Perlmutter now be vilified by the hard left?

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28 thoughts on “Perlmutter “Sees Hope” in Improving Iraq Situation

  1. The DOD, the CIC, the IC have gotten so much wrong for so long I’m left more than a little skeptical. This current leadership of Bush/Cheney/Rice (and not necessarily in that order) have blown so many opportunities (remember when the world was united behind us after 9/11?) I’ve completely lost confidence.

    There are huge problems in the Middle East, and Iraq….most notably corruption. (here’s a hint:… They’re an extremely disfunctional tribal area that we should have left alone to begin with….but…here we are. We’re pouring billions of your and my tax money into a bottomless pit. That’s my opinion, backed up by facts on the ground.

    Time to come home and stop sending money to crazy uncle harry.

  2. That’s what there is right now.  But it may be fleeting or illusory…  al-Sadr decided to give the Mahdi Army a break and declared a cease-fire around the start of the Surge.  Much of the violence seems to have moved out of Baghdad and into other regions.  The Iraqis still have not stabilized their government well.  And the corruption on both the US and Iraqi sides is still rampant and is severely hampering rebuilding efforts.

    If we can keep Baghdad (which is by no means safe yet) somewhat stable after we decrease our presence there and get a serious start on rebuilding the Iraqi infrastructure, then there will be hope.  Until then I remain quite skeptical.

  3. .

    I don’t think so.

    What danger was he in,

    compared to a ground pounder ?  

    And this trip took 5 days.

    GI’s are away from home for 15 months.  

    You got NO IDEA what its like.


    1. I agree with you that he doesn’t understand the danger the troops are in.

      By the same token, you have no idea of the danger he was in. He witnessed an IED take out a car on the road beneath his Blackhawk. His caravan on the ground was re-routed because of intelligence that said elements in Iraqi Police had planted mines in the road ahead that targeted them.

      I have no idea what anxiety Ed’s family must have felt knowing that he was in a Country where traitors in the police were trying to assassinate him.

      It is nothing compared to a 15 month deployment. No argument there.

      Still, my family probably slept a lot easier this week than his, so I am not going to beat him up for the statement.

  4. Very interesting.  

    After talking to the Barron IRL, I am taking a brief hiatus from hammering Polis.

    Shafroth is still my preferred candidate, I still think Jared is playing fast and loose with the law, I think he is far to comfy with voucher folks, Independance Institute and Reaganites, but his emergent understanding of the mercenary issue has earned him a bit of a break because I think the growth of PMC’s will be an issue long after the last brigade leaves Iraq.

    1. Once again, leave it to the Statesman to produce the most light (as opposed to heat) of all the media outlets on this story).

      I’m not sure we know if Jared is playing fast and loose until the finance report comes out. Can we?

      I agree his connection to conservatives is unique in this race and a little disconcerting. But I don’t know how you become the kind of hugely successful entrepreneur he is without dealing with at least some conservatives. Just comes with the territory. It’s always seemed so obvious that those folks are business acquaintances who have no idea how progressive Jared is.

      1. I will skip the issues of the II, pro-vouchers, and supply side conservatives and limit myself to the finance issues since that is more on topic.  

        I think the changing language from the campaign (humanitarian/polis foundation/personal/campaign) indicate a certain looseness with the funding.  I think the “I’ll have the lawyers tell me what I have to report” is both cavalier and loose with the law: the same attitude that foisted the A41 monstrosity on us.

        The United Way’s forceful backing away from Polis (The Director just likes to vacation in Iraq) indicates funny business.

        My fear is that we won’t get good disclosure in the finance reports.  Polis has a tendency with his in kinds to kitchen sink them (not full disclosure).  Jerome Armstrong was “hired” by the campaign, but he nor any company he is affiliated with has shown up in FEC filings.  I suppose RBI or one of the other consultants Polis hired could be a conduit for paying Armstrong, but i suspect Polis pays personally and then kitchen sinks it as an in kind to cloak is activities.

        Aside from my obvious problems with A41, vouchers and reaganomics, it is Jared’s loose adherence to the law, his cloak and dagger activities and yes, paid bloggers that give me the most pause.

        If the were not so many shills, my critizism would probably not be as sharp.

        There I went and did it again, when I wanted to cut him a break.

        1. I think you made more sense when you were “cutting him a break.” If the campaign hired Jerome Armstrong but didn’t report the expense, that would be illegal. It’s pretty cut and dry and I don’t think there’s a whole lot of “cloak and dagger” you can do, even if so inclined. Do you have evidence that they hired him before the last reporting deadline and didn’t report?

          If A41 is your problem, be a man (or woman) and own up to it. The rest is a smokescreen.

          1. so are you saying that he broke the law?

            I think they are cloaking campaign activities through in kinds which I don’t think are illegal–though I do think it is unethical. It is certainly not cut and dried. Jerome is not in the FEC reports so the campaign either lied about hiring him (I don’t think so) or they are cloaking their activities.

            Are you saying the capaign lied about hiring armstrong?

            A41 is not my only issue and I have repeatedly said what I think his weaknesses are.  And you better be careful when you accuse someone of cowardice (if that is your intention), some folks don’t take kindly to it.

  5. When I wrote the story four days ago on SquareState there was no gnashing of teeth from the Left.

    Perlmutter is right about nearly everything he says, but it is clear that neither the Republican nor Democratic leadership have any intention of basing policy on what might work in that country. Reid and Pelosi will keep giving Bush all the ropes he wants, and Bush will keep hanging the entire country with it.

  6. and I’m not vilifying Perlmutter.  The fact is our military is doing its job as far as improving security and buying time for the Maliki government to get it together.   I don’t see much evidence that the Maliki government is spending that time doing any such thing done but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a “glimmer” of hope.

    Perlmutter is sayng he hopes that the Iraqi leadership (if you can call the non-functioning government’s officials that) will realize how limited their time is and that will motivate them to spend their time trying to pull together a functioning government.  So far the various factions in the government seem to be spending most of their time grabbing as much power as they can for the civil war they see in their future but their is nothing wrong with hoping for the best, to point.

    This may come as news to some but we on the left want things to turn out as best they can in Iraq, too.  Most of us don’t think it’s very nice to invade and occupy a country for no good reason, overturn its government, leave its institutions and infrastructure in ruins, unleash war profiteers to make billions off shoddy to non-existent reconstruction projects, arm every faction in sight and then just leave.

    We just accept that there isn’t a military solution, that the military can only buy   more time and not all that much because it is so over-stretched and getting used up already. Time is short.  Therefore, something’s got to give soon.  If it doesn’t, the glimmer is gone.

    1. If there is a glimmer of hope I think all dems are more than willing to listen to one of their own.  Someone could tell us, lets say, “mission accomplished” or ” the insurgency is in its last throes”, but we know better than that now – call it credibility of lack thereof.

      At least that’s my feeling – I have never been to Iraq so I listen to others who have.

      I think these trips are incredibly important and admire both Polis and Perlmutter for their recent trips.

    1. I am glad the hear Perlmutter went and returned safely. I’d like to believe that their is a glimmer of hope, but I have no confindence that Bush can capitalize on this window, if there is one. But I would love to see the Dems in congress come up with a real plan and not wait until we have a new prez.  

  7. …to get out soon. A large part of the calm is that the various groups realize we are leaving soon and so they have to start working together and to solve things themselves.

    Another large part is the ethnic cleansing is over. The walls are up between neighborhoods and every neighborhood is all of a single group. So that reduces targets.

  8. Per Reuters on Monday:

       ‘ BAGHDAD – Seven inmates were killed and 21 wounded when several mortar rounds struck an Interior Ministry jail in central Baghdad, an Iraqi security official said. The U.S. military said the attack was caused by rockets and gave a death toll of five detainees.

       BAGHDAD – Six bodies were found dumped across Baghdad on Monday, police said. . .

       BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb wounded four police commandos and one civilian in eastern Baghdad’s Baladiyat district, police said.

       BAGHDAD – Five people were wounded by a roadside bomb in western Baghdad’s Mansour district, police said. Three policemen were among the wounded, another police source said.

       BAGHDAD – Gunmen killed two civilians in their car in central Baghdad’s Karrada district, police said. . .

       TUZ KHURMATO – A roadside bomb detonated at a police patrol killing four policemen including a colonel and wounding seven others in Tuz Khurmato, 70 km south of Kirkuk, police said.

       BAIJI – A suicide car bomber killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded two others in an attack on a checkpoint in the city of Baiji, 180 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. . .

       BUHRIZ – One policeman and a civilian were killed in clashes between police and gunmen in Buhriz, 60 km (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, police said. A child, a woman and two policemen were among five people wounded and 10 cars were destroyed. . . ‘

    Go, surge, go!

        1. of the heavy costs, both financial and strategic, there will be a great disservice done to both the U.S. and the world. I pray it is a huge issue in the upcoming elections.

        1. I’ve looked at both of those sites, although I’ve mostly read Juan Cole on Good to get an alternate perspective, much agreed.

          IraqSlogger’s articles are currently on a subscription-only basis, it appears.

          This web site,, provides some alternate news, as well:

          It’s chief editor is a libertarian, although not all of its contributors are.

        2. And the point is not that Rep. Perlmutter is wrong–just that there is much going on that not even members of Congress get to see.  I really, really hope that he is right and that progress is being made and that a positive end may be wobbling into sight.  It’s just that headlines like those from Reuters make me skeptical.

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