Saturday, August 06, 2005

 

The Situation in Iraq

We're doing much better than most Americans realize

Armando wonders:
Does it not feel like that, in fact, even in conventional military terms, the insurgency is not only strengthening, but also performing better? And that our own military is performing not as well?
No, though it may seem that way to the ill informed. Armando's perception is the one terrorists and their Iranian allies, aided and abetted by our own media, are trying to instill in the American public:
The terrorists realize now that they can't defeat our military. Instead, they hope to achieve what the North Vietnamese did: To blur the reality on the ground and convince the American public that we're losing.

Those Marines were tactical targets of opportunity. You're the strategic target. The terrorists hope that our media will create an atmosphere of failure --— and that you'll give in to a sense of defeat.
Armando later opines:
Perhaps I am wrong, I am no military expert, but it seems to me that the recent reversals in Iraq are not mostly a result of Zarqawi directed suicide bombings, but rather military reversals in a guerilla war. The initiation of yet another sweep of Western Iraq, perhaps the fifth or sixth that I can recall, tells me that what our military leaders are doing is not working, in conventional military terms.
He is wrong. What are the "reversals" he is talking about? We haven't suffered a single one yet in this war. And Operation Quick Strike should not be dismissed as "yet another sweep of Western Iraq" but rather understood as one part of an ongoing offensive:
The series of operations being conducted in the Anbar province along the Euphrates River must be looked upon not as isolated operations, but part of an overall campaign to wrest the Anbar province from the insurgency and al Qaeda.
Strategy Page (of 8/3) notes the situation on the ground:
American troops are increasingly patrolling Sunni Arab areas in western Iraq that have not, for two years, seen many U.S. soldiers or marines. Thinly populated, and run by tribal leaders and the heads of criminal (usually smuggling) gangs, this region is not accustomed to obeying any government. Even Saddam stepped lightly in this part of the country. It was always the "Wild West."
Wretchard has more about Operation Quick Strike here, here and here.

Retired General Barry R. McCaffrey, Clinton's drug czar and a critic of Bush's handling of the war, observes that our prospects for success in Iraq are reasonably good:
The point of the US war effort is to create legitimate and competent Iraqi national, provincial, and municipal governance. We are at a turning point in the coming six months. The momentum is now clearly with the Iraqi Government and the Coalition Security Forces. The Sunnis are coming into the political process. They will vote in December. Unlike the Balkans--the Iraqis want this to succeed. Foreign fighters are an enormously lethal threat to the Iraqi civilian population, the ISF, and Coalition Forces in that order. However, they will be an increasing political disaster for the insurgency. Over time they are actually adding to the credibility of the emerging Iraqi government. We should expect to see a dwindling number of competent, suicide capable Jihadist. Those who come to Iraq--will be rapidly killed in Iraq. The picture by next summer will be unfavorable to recruiting foreigners to die in Iraq while attacking fellow Arabs.
In his summary, General McCaffrey writes:
This is the darkness before dawn in the efforts to construct a viable Iraqi state. The enterprise was badly launched -- but we are now well organized and beginning to develop successful momentum. The future outcomes are largely a function of the degree to which Iraqi men and women will overcome fear and step forward to seize the leadership opportunity to create a new future.

We face some very difficult days in the coming 2-5 years. In my judgment, if we retain the support of the American people -- we can achieve our objectives of creating a law-based Iraqi state which will be an influencing example on the entire region.
(Emphasis mine. Via Jack Kelly)

We cannot let the terrorists, with the help of their media allies and ill informed war critics, sap our morale. The odds still favor victory in Iraq, so long as we maintain our resolve.

UPDATE: Reul Mark Gerecht expresses optimism about the constitutional deliberations taking place among Iraqis:
Yet the Iraqis are where we want them to be: divided on critical matters of politics and faith, but still determined to resolve their differences through a binding written compromise. Their discussions are hot and sometimes intractable because all the parties know these debates matter. Federalism and the political role of Islam--perhaps the two most troublesome subjects--are critical issues throughout the Middle East. No one in Washington should want these debates toned down or curtailed.

Many in America may not like the outcome--liberals are already overwhelmingly defining Iraqi democracy's success by whether women's social rights are protected and advanced--but the deliberations foretell what is likely to happen elsewhere in the region as it democratizes. Contrary to so much commentary in the U.S., it is the compromises--the liberal "imperfections"--in Iraq's experiment that may have the most positive repercussions in the Middle East.
UPDATE II: Bill Roggio and Chester have more on Operation Quick Strike.

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