Thursday, June 12, 2008
Good News from Iraq: Bad News for the Left
Cross posted from For the Grandchildren
EAT CROW, IRAQ WAR SKEPTICS
By ARTHUR HERMAN New York Post
June 9, 2008 -- AMERICA has won, or is about to win, the Iraq war.
The latest proof came last month, as the Iraqi army - just a few months ago the target of scorn and abuse from Democratic politicians and journalists - forcefully reoccupied three cities that had served as key insurgency bases (Basra, Sadr City and Mosul).
Sunnis and Shias alike applauded as their nation's army compelled insurgent militias to lay down their arms. The country's leading opposition newspaper, Azzaman, led the applause for the move into Mosul - a sign that national reconciliation in Iraq is under way and probably irreversible.
US combat deaths in May also were down to 20, the lowest monthly total since February 2004. The toll for May 2007 was 121.
In a Washington Post interview, CIA Director Michael Hayden said we're witnessing the "near strategic defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq."
The Bush administration has taken heaps of abuse for its Iraq policy, including its decision to launch the "surge" last December. Now the strategy, which our nation's "best and brightest" regularly dismissed as a failure, has cleared the way for the establishment of a secure democracy in Iraq and a lasting peace.
It would be foolish to pop open the victory champagne yet. The truce between the Shia and Sunni in Iraq remains fragile; al Qaeda may well launch one more last-ditch offensive there (a la Tet 1968), in order to discourage the US and/or Iraq publics on the eve of the elections.
Meanwhile, we're still fighting a vicious insurgency in Afghanistan, and have yet to root out the al Qaeda remnants of along the Afghan-Pakistan border. And the continued threat of home-grown terror cells keeps European governments nervous.
In wars, however, trends have their own momentum. And the trend is running away from al Qaeda and its jihadist allies - not only in Iraq but also across the Middle East.
According to Hayden, al Qaeda faces a similar strategic debacle in Saudi Arabia.
And al Qaeda's fugitive leadership is learning that its former safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border is no longer so safe. Thanks to cooperation with Pakistan's new government, unmanned US Predator drones recently killed two top al Qaeda leaders there.
Once Gen. David Petraeus is confirmed as commander of US forces in the Middle East in July, he'll be able to apply the same strategy for victory learned in the Iraq surge to the war in Afghanistan.
In short, the larger War on Terror may be reaching a tipping point similar to that of the Iraq war.
The US public and policymakers need to recognize how this happened - and draw lessons from this success.
1) We need to acknowledge that the Iraq war wasn't a "distraction" from the War on Terror, as critics still complain, but its centerpiece.
It's not mere coincidence that our success against al Qaeda globally comes along with success in Iraq. For all its setbacks and frustrations, the Iraq war drew jihadists into a battle they thought they could win, because it would be fought on their home turf - but which they're now losing disastrously.
2) The US decision to "stay the course" in the Iraq war, which was also widely mocked and criticized, served to thoroughly demoralize the jihadist movement.
From its start in spring 2003, the Iraqi insurgency has been entirely built on the premise that it could use suicide and roadside bombings, sectarian slaughter and the torture and murder of hostages to force America out of the Middle East.
If Democrats had won the White House in 2004, the jihadists might have succeeded.
Instead, America doggedly refused to give in to terror, despite 4,000 combat deaths and massive antiwar sentiment, and unwaveringly supported an Iraqi government that was at times feeble and confused - and proceeded to break the jihadist movement's back.
In that interview, the CIA's Hayden also that al Qaeda is no longer able to use the Iraq war as a way to draw in new recruits. The reason is clear: If you go to Iraq to fight the American infidel you will die, and die for nothing.
3) Finally, the Bush administration's success in Iraq, and growing success in the War on Terror, offers a powerful object lesson in how to deal with the continuing threat from Iran.
Iran remains the most lethal state sponsor of terrorism, fomenting proxy wars in Lebanon and Gaza, and in Iraq itself. Its nuclear-weapons program proceeds despite minor sanctions and endless international efforts at engagement.
Now the Bush administration has shown the way for the next president. Instead of trying to "understand" the enemy, disrupt and defeat his plans. Instead of listening to domestic critics, act in the nation's best interests. Instead of relying on multilateral support to decide what to do, go it alone if necessary.
Instead of worrying about an exit strategy, realize that there's no substitute for winning.
Arthur Herman is the author of "Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age," just published by Bantam.
A note from Radarsite: "Instead of worrying about an exit strategy, realize that there's no substitute for winning." Great point, but does anyone think that the left will listen? Of course they will; the same way they will write all those articles apologizing for being so wrong about our efforts in Iraq. We'll just have to wait for a little while, that's all...