Friday, August 22, 2008

Op-Ed: Why We are Succeeding in Iraq

We always hear discussion about whether or not "the surge" worked. The surge, of course, did work - only Senator Obama is still in denial about that.

But a lot more went into gaining the upper hand in Iraq. Reading Michael Yon's book, "The Moment of Truth in Iraq", you see what an amazing job General Petraeus did before being in charge of the entire operation in Iraq (he was the commander of the 101st Airborne, which was in Mosul). General Patraeus is a master at counter-insurgency. This is not spy fiction novel stuff so much as it is working with local leaders, building trust, and rebuilding communities and infrastructure. Over and over, in various provinces and cities, the radically diverse Iraqi population came to understand that they could trust American soldiers and the American commitment to winning and staying.

These are at least some of the reasons we've turned around a dire situation in Iraq:
  • The surge - an increase in troops on the ground
  • Intelligent leadership - good call by the President to put Petraeus in charge, and brilliant job by Petraeus in knowing what to do to turn the tide
  • Al-Qeda - Al-Qaeda's true face was not much reported in the media. They are more mafia-like than jihadist. They drink, do drugs, visit prostitutes, and, above all, seem to stand for murder and power. Their violent acts perpetrated on Iraq are unspeakable - you name it, they did it. Michael Yon shows evidence of a mass murder - where even children were murdered along with (and probably in front of) their parents. It wasn't long before Iraqis could see the venerable nature of our troops and the absolute evil nature of Al-Qaeda.
  • Iraqi forces - the most recently visible success story is our rebuilding of the Iraqi army, who are now already fighting largely on their own and winning.
  • Our Soldiers - never in the history of humanity has a volunteer army given up so much in the way of luxuries and lifestyle at home to go and fight in a foreign land to literally make the world a safer place. I think that makes this generation of soldiers the greatest generation. Our military is stronger, more capable, more adaptive, and more magnanimous and trustworthy than any other in history.

So boiling success in Iraq down to one sound bite doesn't do justice to the monumental effort by our troops and their leaders. We've shown that even when we do things wrong at first, we can adapt and learn and find the right leadership to get the job done.

Our values and character are winning this war.

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