She first starts out by impugning O'Hanlon and Pollack because they did in fact support invasion in the beginning. (Pollack even wrote a full book on it). This is true and never hidden by anyone. They also became fierce critics and are self admitted left of center thinkers. No one doubts that the Brookings Institute is left of center, not far left mind you, like Daily Kos, but left of center. (Thus, maybe that is where the confusion comes in) Still, McJoan spends an awful lot of time laboring over this ceded point by everyone.
Which is out and out false. It all started with the ridiculous Times op-ed by the Brookings Institute's Kenneth Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon, who positioned themselves as "harsh critics" of Bush's war and the escalation, despite their long and wrong history of support for it (see Glenn Greenwald, Think Progress, and Greg Sargent for the gory details). See, they're war critics, but they spent 8 days in a few areas of Iraq, talking with the troops that O'Hanlon's long-time friend Gen. Petraeus had ready to meet them. Credible?
Notice, how she dimishes their trip by mentioning it was only eight days. Hey, Joan, that's eight more days than you have spent there so exactly what is your point? Furthermore, this is not the first trip for either and these eight days were spent comparing the situation to previous trips. Finally, these are two serious men who only want the best for their country. They gave their honest well researched, and most importantly, from the ground, opinion. McJoan seems to think that far left bloggers with clear agendas like Think Progress are more authoritative than these two guys who have spent most of their adult life studying, debating and researching these exact issues.
Second, she moves on to a piece Anthony Cordesman who was in the party with O'Hanlon and Pollack. He was decidedly less enthusiastic about progress.
I did not see any dramatic change in our position in Iraq during this trip. Many
of the points, the problems which exist there are problems which have existed
really since late 2004, if not earlier. I didn’t see a dramatic shift in the
ability of the Iraqi’s to reach the kind of compromise that is almost the
foundation of moving forward. [...]
But I also want to stress another thing.
I did not see success for the strategy that President Bush announced in January.
She then goes on to excoriate the media for spinning his statements.
The piece strongly stressed Cordesman's view that we could conceivably
succeed in Iraq if this, that or the other fluke took place -- without noting
that Cordesman himself said he differed with O'Hanlon and Pollack's assessments
of the situation in Iraq. Just a stunning omission. Even better, WaPo described
Cordesman's "optimism about the war" -- even though he wrote: "From my
perspective, the U.S. now has only uncertain, high risk options in Iraq." That
strike you as optimistic?
Now, as you'll notice she isolates most of Cordesman's criticism for that of the political end. This is really no different than O'Hanlon, Pollack or anyone else that has been over to Iraq. Everyone agrees that the Iraqis are falling woefully short on the political end. What McJoan omits herself is a very important part of Cordesman's piece...
In his 25-page analysis -- titled "The Tenuous Case for Strategic Patience
in Iraq" -- Cordesman wrote that the United States "does not have good options
in Iraq and cannot dictate its future, only influence it," and that it is up to
the Iraqi government to make strides toward stability. A precipitous withdrawal
of U.S. troops probably would not help matters, he wrote, but if the Iraqis make
progress, then Congress and the U.S. military need to work toward gradual troop
reductions that reflect realities on the ground.
Whatever Cordesman feels about progress in Iraq, he is clear that a precipitous withdrawal from there is not the answer. This is of course something McJoan doesn't happen to put into her piece, and of course it is a piece about spin, ah, the surreal irony of Daily Kos.