But General David Petraeus and his #2, Ray Odierno and all the many brave soldiers in their command executed the principles of The Surge masterfully, with the result being that Iraqis (and Americans) can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. As I've mentioned numerous times before, John McCain deserves a lot of credit for supporting it early, consistently, and to his detriment.
George W. Bush deserves the lion's share of the credit. He could have succumbed to his Democrat critics and pulled out of Iraq, leaving American military and domestic morale in a shambles and handicapping our influence for at least a generation. But he didn't.
My suspicion is that in 40 years, fair-minded historians will treat W's presidency with far greater equanimity than either today's opinion polls or pundits. I would guess that even many of his more sober critics would probably admit that they agree.
Thanks to Branden B. for the tip: Click the link and view a solemn reminder of some of the costs of victory in Iraq. The WSJ graphic shows the coalition troop losses over the course of the war. Best of all is the "biography" option which allows you to click on the dots (which represents soldiers who died) and read a short biography.
My fear (shared by many) and probably the greatest danger, is that Barack Obama will seize defeat from the jaws of victory by pulling coalition forces out of Iraq before Iraqis are able to defend themselves from interior and exterior threats. They are on the path to that goal, but they are not there yet.
To leave before they are ready would waste the sacrifice and work of thousands of brave American and coalition soldiers and would amount to the single greatest American defeat since the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese. It would be an unmitigated disaster that would destabilize the entire region.
UPDATE 11:50pm BST: Steve M. writes:
Sometimes in life we have to finish a job that was started by someone else or in error, but it must be finished in order to not marginalize, minimize, or totally negate the sacrifice of others.UPDATE 18 November 2:54am BST: More good news from Iraq, this coming from General McCaffrey's AAR:
Sorry, but I spent two years living in South America under a dictatorship and watched people suffer from the autrocities of oppression. Regardless of whether this was to fight the war on terror (which I believe it was, but our liberal friends have no concept of how to bring an unseen enemy out of the shadows to fight), or to keep control of oil, it can and has created a country where people have the freedom to choose their direction. Who are we to say they aren't worth that effort. What if we were the ones oppressed, wouldn't we welcome the restoration of our liberties? Or would we refuse the help because it was too hard and continue suffering?
THE BOTTOM LINE:Like his denunciation of Nafta, I hope Obama's promise to 'withdraw, regardless of conditions on the ground,' was just empty primary campaign boilerplate, designed to get the anti-war moonbat wing of the Democrat party on board, and not, you know, his grown-up position.
a. The United States is now clearly in the end game in Iraq to successfully achieve what should be our principle objectives:
• The withdrawal of the majority of our US ground combat forces in Iraq in the coming 36 months.
• Leaving behind an operative civil state and effective Iraqi security forces.
• An Iraqi state which is not in open civil war among the Shia, the Sunnis, and the Kurds.
• And an Iraqi nation which is not at war with its six neighboring states.
b. The security situation is clearly still subject to sudden outrage at any moment by Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) or to degradation because of provocative behavior by the Maliki government. However, the bottom line is a dramatic and growing momentum for economic and security stability which is unlikely to be reversible. I would not characterize the situation as fragile. It is just beyond the tipping point.
• Daily attacks hit a high of 180+ in July of 2007--- they are now down to 20+ per day.
• Civilian deaths dropped from 3700 per month in Dec 2006 --- to 400 + in October 2008.
• US military deaths dropped from 110 in May of 2007---to 10 in October 2008.
• Iraqi Security Forces KIA dropped from 310 in June 2007--- to 50 in October 2008.)
(thanks to Ace)
UPDATE 18 November 1:38pm BST: VICTORY IN IRAQ DAY: Alright, folks, this Saturday is Victory In Iraq Day. The day in which we celebrate the triumph of the American military over its many foes in Iraq and the establishment of a free democracy in the Middle East--by my count, the 2nd such democracy in that part of the world.
As you'll read when you click the link: don't expect the media, or either the outgoing (just trying to keep his head down) or incoming (didn't think it was possible, owes early success to our struggles there) Presidents.
Save the date and celebrate it. Thank members of the military wherever you see them for their hard work and sacrifice.
If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.