Bloggers Lavish Post Scribe’s Surge Assertion With Skepticism

Robert Kagan argues that President Bush's Iraq troop surge is working, and bloggers are appropriately skeptical.

In a Sunday op-ed in the Washington Post, columnist Robert Kagan asserted that President Bush’s January surge of 21,500 combat troops to Iraq is succeeding. Kagan wrote, “And though it is still early and horrible acts of violence continue, there is substantial evidence that the new counterinsurgency strategy, backed by the infusion of new forces, is having a significant effect.”

He ended with harsh criticism for the media. “No one is asking American journalists to start emphasizing the ‘good’ news,” Kagan wrote in his monthly Post column. “All they have to do is report what is occurring, though it may conflict with their previous judgments. Some are still selling books based on the premise that the war is lost, end of story. But what if there is a new chapter in the story?”

Editor and Publisher was quick to respond, identifying Kagan as “the brother of the man who has been called an architect of the ‘surge’ idea.” The Post had identified Kagan as “a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund.”

Bloggers, too, were skeptical. “If you have to say we’re winning in the op-ed section, it means that you don’t have the goods to prove your talk,” wrote Common Sense.

Scantron of the Wash Av Huffy Crew continued the point that Kagan’s assertion was lacking proof to back it up. “In his piece, in which he fails to quote even the lowliest, least reliable, anonymous military source or to cite one bit of statistical data, he relies almost entirely on the writings of the brothers Omar and Mohammed Fadhil, of the blog ‘Iraq the Model.’ Don’t look now, but the blogs are revolutionizing the MSM! It just so happens that the bloggers in question are resolutely pro-war, have written for the Wall Street Journal (again using only assertions, not evidence), and have met personally with President Bush.”

On Think Progress, Kagan’s history of optimism was questioned. “In April 2003, Kagan declared the war over and said we won. Since then, he has continuously claimed that things were getting better in Iraq. He is completely liberated from any obligation to tell the truth and is a highly destructive propagandist whose public record of commentary about Iraq ought to disqualify him from decent company, let alone some sort of pretense to expertise about this war.”

Other bloggers were more hopeful. Reformed Chicks Blabbing called Kagan’s piece “encouraging.” The post went on, “I’m glad that the Iraqi people can start to feel hopeful again.”

Still others took Kagan’s column at face value and turned blame on the Democrats for not letting the joyous news be spread sooner. “Although this particular piece is aimed at the press for their unremitting negativism toward Iraq and the Bush administration, it could just as easily be aimed at the Dems and their defeatocrat attitudes,” said Rick Moore on

More credulously, SWAC Girl applauded the column’s contrarian viewpoint “despite the doom and gloom constantly reported by the mainstream media in America.”

“Now that the surge is proven to be working, will the Dems stop trying to hold back funds for the war?” asked the blogger. “Will they give this war a chance?”

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Christina Hernandez is a CJR intern.