Wednesday, July 16, 2008
# Posted 9:17 AM by Patrick Porter
‘The war continues to abate in Iraq. Violence is still present, but, of course, Iraq was a relatively violent place long before Coalition forces moved in. I would go so far as to say that barring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What’s left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet, the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it’s time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over. We won. Which means the Iraqi people won.’
Now, lets get a few things clear: General Petraeus should be richly decorated for his work in Northern Iraq; Al Qaeda in Iraq has been battered, discredited itself and alienated old allies and many Muslims, the shape of things to come; people who are invested emotionally and politically in the certainty of defeat in Iraq need to pay attention to what is happening; and the new Iraqi state is showing signs of great strengthening in its capacity to keep order, a process tied to us getting out. This is about more than one’s opinion of Bush and the wicked ‘neocons’, its about a vital cause, and folk who would rather Iraq go up in flames than America succeed need to take a more reflective view.
But can we stop the continual, round-the-clock declarations of victory and defeat? Because of a momentary realignment of forces in the Sunni triangle, the restraint of Sadr and the lull in violence, we should resist the urge to announce finality of any kind. There are too many unknowns: various Shia groups may simply be waiting out the savaging of Al Qaeda and the departure of the US. The new US allies, a coalition of gangsters, tribal leaders and opportunists, as well as a widespread revolt by former Sunni supremacists, may not see this phase as the last battle before the new federal democracy springs into life. They may see it as the latest tactical phase in which the US funds and arms them to battle AQ before they turn their violent attention elsewhere. And if we have ‘won’ overall, and a new Iraq can be salvaged, that is an extraordinary achievement by the US military, but it still tastes of ashes. Iraq has been a tragedy.
Secondly, notice how Afghanistan is now being redefined as the ‘hard’ war and Iraq as the ‘doable war’:
‘ I wish I could say the same for Afghanistan. But that war we clearly are losing: I am preparing to go there and see the situation for myself. My friends and contacts who have a good understanding of Afghanistan are, to a man, pessimistic about the current situation. Interestingly, however, every one of them believes that Afghanistan can be turned into a success. They all say we need to change our approach, but in the long-term Afghanistan can stand on its own. The sources range from four-stars to civilians from the United States, Great Britain and other places. A couple years ago, some of these sources believed that defeat was imminent in Iraq. They were nearly right about Iraq, although some of them knew far less about Iraq than they do about Afghanistan. But it’s clear that hard days are ahead in Afghanistan. We just lost nine of our soldiers in a single firefight, where the enemy entered a base and nearly overran it.’
One of the problems with fighting two wars in tandem is that we are drawn to evaluate each via a spurious comparison. When Iraq was collapsing into horrific communal violence, Afghanistan was touted as the ‘winnable’ war, despite the profound and wildly unfavourable conditions in which it is being fought. An unwieldy coalition, many of whom have little stomach for the effort, fighting in difficult terrain to prop up a weak and corrupt central state against insurgents who have sanctuary over the frontier and can regenerate themselves, amongst survivalist Afghans who know that the turbaned jihadists will always return. How was that ever conceived as the realistic war? Because Iraq looked worse.
My money is still on a cruder skepticism: This isn’t World War Two. The surge is not Okinawa. It ain’t over. (6) opinions -- Add your opinion
but, of course, Iraq was a relatively violent place long before Coalition forces moved in
Michael Yon the most twisting media reporter big microphone who hold the words of Bush Administration and its "mission Accomplished"
The above statement shows clearly Yon's prematurely and truthfulness words.
Iraq was the most open society and most developed society in ME during that time till 1991.
Michael Yon do not know any thing about Iraq till he impended with US troope (might he killed Iraqi as some photos showing he holding rifle) he forgot the fact that in Iraq no a single western killed in Iraq from 1921 till 1991?
"he forgot the fact that in Iraq no a single western killed in Iraq from 1921 till 1991?"
The rebellions supressed by the Brits, when the were in control, must have been pretty mild if no westerners were killed.
Patrick, you have stated a truth as if none of us knew it. Of course, there are *many* who so wanted to ignore "W" Bush that they quickly forgot his words to Congress soon after 9/11- "This will be a war of years and decades"! Those of us who supported *all* of WW IV, with open eyes, knew what we were getting into. Those who wanted to believe that it could quickly drop back into "Can't we all just get along?", ...didn't.
It is true that there has been tragedy in Iraq, starting from before the campaign opened, when advocates of Sunni tyrants in the US State Department delayed and then displaced the preparation of an Iraqi majority (Shia) government to take over the country quickly. In a World War we should expect to experience such tragedy, however much we may fear it. Still, the idea that the M.E. status quo was viable in March of 2003, is risible!
That Afghanistan is now seen as hard is not odd, if for no other reason than that theater of WW IV is now the only place that a sufficiently cringing US government might be defeated. The campaign, that we were told for 5 years by the opponents of democracy in Iraq was the "real central front" of WW IV, will now be the focus of opposition to US victory in WW IV, and will be denounced as hopeless, *because* it provides hope to those who despise the idea of US victory.
That may be too harsh, by a small amount. In my experience, the opposition is focused not on the US as a whole, or even on George Bush, but on the people who voted for George Bush. Those "bitter clingers to their guns and their religion" are the true focus of disregard amongst globalized elites. I have watched over the last 40 years as the public vision of the Jacksonian Tradition has been shoe-horned onto a single political spectrum by those who oppose them, running from the KuKlux Klan, to The Beverley Hillbillys. It is that vision, created by the matriculated elites themselves, that they and their hangers-on so deeply oppose.
Of course, there *are* other fantasists, whether they are Old Left, Salafists, Khomeinists, or the those who indulge in the sort of narrow-minded blindness that can assert that-"Iraq was the most open society and most developed society in ME during that time till 1991." These are all counting on the matriculated elites to back the US down. They are praying that the expectation Richard Fernandez spoke of, in explaining the bitterness of the Left towards US opposition to islamist assaults, that "The West was supposed to die", will become reality.
That does *not* mean we in the US have to accommodate them!
I would just say that we should be careful in dubbing the Iraq War a success at this point and let history have the final say. We claimed at least some significant level of victory in Afghanistan for years, which is why this recent bout of violence and the Taliban's resurgence comes as such a shock to many in the public. As you said, we thought that was the "winnable" war. This may in fact prove to be the turning point in Iraq, but only time will tell. Iraq is inherently just as much, if not more, of a mess than Afghanistan, originating with the lumping together of 3 culturally distinct and tribally unrelated districts into one country at the hands of Western powers post-WWI. Such deep-seated tensions may or may not be so easily fixed.
At the first Presidential Debate, John McCain continued to oppose timetables for U.S. troop withdrawal, even as the Iraqi government demanded that the United States withdraw. Earlier this year, after Bush mentioned staying in Iraq for 50 years, McCain said, "make it a hundred."
Some 4,000 American soldiers have been killed and more than 30,000 wounded in Iraq. Billions of taxpayers money have been wasted (when all is said and done, an average American family will have paid $30,000 for this war).
However, the biggest victims of the war have been the Iraqis themselves. Lieutenant General Tommy Franks, who led the invasion of Iraq, famously remarked, "We don't do body counts." As the Guardian newspaper notes, however, "even though the Americans were not counting, people were dying, and every victim had a name and a family." "Wedding parties were bombed by US planes, couples driving home at night were shot at checkpoints because they missed a flashlight warning them to stop, and hundreds of other unarmed civilians were killed for no legitimate cause."
As many as ONE MILLION Iraqis have been killed since the start of the invasion. Another 3 million Iraqis have been displaced -- forced to leave their homes and communities. Millions struggle to find adequate shelter, food, water, employment, and health care. People that have suffered greatly under Saddam, are now suffering even more under the U.S. occupation.
Politicians and the media have turned the war into something abstract. The war is real, however, and it has exacted a heavy toll on ordinary Americans and ordinary Iraqis.
Watch this music video by Alexei Jendayi and Sol Edler to get a more personal look at the war. Then SPREAD THE WORD by sharing this message with your friends, relatives, and colleagues.
(the video is from Alexei's latest release, November 4 EP (http://www.November4EP.com )
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