Why stay the course?

Well, if you’re on a long journey, you need to accept that the course is going to take some time to complete. In yesterday’s post on Senator Joe Biden’s op-ed, I noted another writer who was thankful for something from a politician besides President Bush’s “stay the course” message.

I’ve been told this so many times over the past couple of years. “Stay the course isn’t a strategy!” and “”How long will we keep beating our heads against the wall?” and “Stay the course is what they said about Vietnam, too, you know…”

Dismissing those who are just plain opposed to Bush and/or the invasion of Iraq, I think the biggest problem is that so few seem to conceive of the scale of what’s going on. They don’t understand the time tables we’re looking at here. They just don’t get how long this is going to take, and they’d be happier if we were moving faster, even if that meant doing things wrong. At least it would look like something was being accomplished.

If you’re driving from New York to Los Angeles, and six hours in the kids start asking “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” do you change destinations because St. Louis is a “substantive alternative”? Not if Los Angeles is where you want to go.

Meanwhile, for those who believe nothing’s being accomplished in Iraq, there’s Al Qaeda Declines in Northern Iraq, Military Officer Says:

Army Col. Robert B. Brown, commander of the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division’s Stryker Brigade Combat Team, reported from Mosul, Iraq, during a videoteleconference that things are looking up in northern Iraq, where “the Iraqi army is being rebuilt” and citizens clearly “want freedom.”

The situation in Mosul is “improving on a daily basis,” Brown said. “Normalcy has come back into the city.”

That wasn’t the case prior to the Iraqi elections held in January, Brown recalled, when his soldiers “faced a foreign fighter that was very well-trained.” However, the situation has changed significantly since then, he said.

After Fallujah was taken down last November, it appeared that many of the terrorists and insurgents that escaped relocated to the Mosul region. Months of operations (“staying the course”, as it were) have seriously weakened those forces and cut off much of their supply line from Syria.

Many key al Qaeda leaders in Iraq have been captured or killed in recent months, Brown said, affecting terrorist operations. Brown said enemy mortar attacks in his area have decreased to about six a month, compared to around 300 monthly prior to the January elections.

And “we have not seen well-trained foreign fighters” since the elections, Brown said. Foreign terrorists captured these days are poorly trained and “very young,” he noted, ranging in age from 15 to 17 years old.

Al Qaeda is “clearly our biggest threat” in Iraq, Brown said. Of 550 terrorists killed during U.S.-coalition operations in northern Iraq during February and March, he estimated between 60 percent and 70 percent of enemy casualties were foreign fighters.

15- to 17 years old and poorly-trained. That’s not exactly the story we generally get about the resilient Al Qaeda network, is it?

Bill Roggio at the Fourth Rail notes that we seem to have taken out, driven off, or captured a large percentage of the “middlemen” in northern Iraq. We’ve hurt, perhaps crippled, their corps of junior officers and senior NCOs.

It seems that staying the course is working.


  1. Nah, I have a better idea. Let’s give up now. Then, in a few years, when everything goes to hell, we can start heaping blame on the pacifists. Boy, won’t their faces be red when we’re all dead and society has crumbled? That should give the media plenty of material too. They’ll probably find a way to blame the administration.

  2. What does ‘Stay the course’ mean? I’m for ‘staying the course’ if it means ‘Continue killing the bad guys in Iraq until they give up.’ But it seems to mean ‘Continue not mentioning all the positive results of the war every day at every chance by every official in the Bush administration.’ Americans are very weak willed (half of us at least). To keep us positive about Iraq, Bush needs to issue a press release EACH time: -a new school opens -a hospital is opened or upgraded -any water-electricity-oil manufacture is increased -a regular Iraqi citizen helps us catch a terrorist This is the only way the good news will get out – the media is not going to report it otherwise. This is the only way to win back support of the masses. This would be a lot of press releases! The admin should also issue weekly or monthly tallies of Iraq army growth and # of terrorists caught. More Americans would be for ‘staying the course’ if the admin would simply report facts.

  3. Nice post Kevin. I agree with your idea. However, it’s an unfortunate fact of life that bad news sells more papers than good news. And profit is the newspaper’s bottom line!

  4. Toejam, one would be forgiven for thinking that profit is not only the newspapers’ bottom line, but is in fact their only concern. Call me naieve but if I were a newspaper magnate I’d rather make $x by selling newspapers with well balanced, high quality journalism than make $2x selling a rag. Then again I suppose that why I’m not a newspaper magnate.

  5. Yes. The Bush bashers will be complaining next week that New Orleans hasn’t been completely rebuilt yet. Idiots.