Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Monday, September 3, 2007

Fred Kagan on this generation's "Gettysburg"

I do hope the moonbats get used to this for the next because the more that comes out regarding the success of the surge, the more they are going to have fits. And maybe they should. They've beaten the drums of defeat for four very long years, and one man has stepped in and executed a single-minded plan that has a great deal of progress and achievement. On Monday Fred Kagan wrote about this, and the president's impromptu visit to Iraq on his way to a summit in Australia. His visit was more pointed as he went to Anbar, rather than Baghdad; a message sent that the accomplishments in Anbar show that the province was far from lost, and the snubbing of Baghdad sent a message to the politicos that he's not pleased and they better get their act together:

President Bush’s Labor Day visit to Iraq should have surprised no one who was paying attention. At such a critical point in the debate over Iraq policy, it was almost inconceivable that he would fly to and from Australia without stopping in Iraq. What was surprising was the precise location and nature of the visit. Instead of flying into Baghdad and surrounding himself with his generals and the Iraqi government, Bush flew to al Asad airfield, west of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province. He brought with him his secretaries of State and Defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the commander of U.S. Central Command. He was met at al Asad by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, as well as Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kemal al Maliki, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and Vice Presidents Adel Abdul Mehdi and Tariq al Hashemi. In other words, Bush called together all of the leading political and military figures in his administration and the Iraqi government in the heart of Anbar Province. If ever there was a sign that we have turned a corner in the fight against both al Qaeda in Iraq and the Sunni insurgency, this was it.

Anbar, as everyone knows, has been one of the hotbeds and the most important base for both the Sunni rejectionist insurgency and al Qaeda in Iraq since 2003. It has been one of the most violent provinces in Iraq, and one of the most dangerous for American soldiers and Marines, until recently. Now it is one of the safest — safe enough for the war cabinet of the United States of America to meet there with the senior leadership of the government of Iraq to discuss strategy. Instead of talking about how to convince the Anbaris that the Sunni will not retake power in Iraq any time soon, Bush, Maliki, Petraeus, Talabani, and Crocker talked about how to get American and Iraqi aid and reconstruction money flowing more rapidly to the province as a reward for its dramatic and decisive turn against AQI and against the Sunni rejectionist insurgency. In any other war, with any other president, this event would be recognized for what it is: the sign of a crucial victory over two challenges that had seemed both unconquerable and fatal. It should be recognized as at least the Gettysburg of this war, to the extent that counterinsurgencies can have such turning points. Less than a year ago, it was common wisdom and the conclusion of the Marine intelligence community in Anbar that the province and its people were hopelessly lost. Now the Anbaris are looking to the Americans and the government of Iraq for legitimacy, for protection, and for inclusion in a political process they have spurned for years. What is that if not a major victory in this war?

Critics of the war have done everything in their power to denigrate the significance of Anbar’s turn against the takfiris and nationalist insurgents. Their arguments include:

Anbar’s tribal structure is unique, and therefore this “awakening” cannot be replicated elsewhere in Iraq.

The “Anbar Awakening” happened before the “surge” and independently of it, and will continue whether or not U.S. forces remain.

The movements in Anbar are local and mean nothing because they will not translate into reconciliation at the national level.

The government of Iraq distrusts these “awakening” movements and will alienate them, driving them back into the arms of the insurgents and takfiris.

The Anbaris are just operating on the principle of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and will turn on us and/or the Iraqi government at the drop of a hat.

We are setting the preconditions for a horrible civil war by “arming” local Sunni movements like that in Anbar.

None of these arguments holds much water, and all miss both the dynamics of the movement within the Sunni community and its significance for Iraq and the region.

Mr. Kagan's piece is, by far, better than our own, most recent column, which addresses the overall surge itself, but that's because Mr. Kagan is noting the singular events in Anbar. It was, quite literally, the Gettysburg of this war. A year ago, the Hell and chaos that was engulfing it had even led the president to believe what his military people were telling him.

It's lost. We can't win any advantage there. It's the defining failure of this war.

But Mr. Kagan points out that the truth is vastly different from the assessments given then, and he also notes that as long as General Petreus and the troops are given their chance to accomplish the mission at hand, only better things will occur in Iraq. The president's visit today marks a turning point, but not nearly as much of one as the surge itself has provided. What has come with the surge is a level of confidence in not only our forces, but in the Iraqi Security Forces and the Iraqi government -- both on the local and national levels. A year ago, this couldn't have even been fathomed, and now we get reports daily that things have changed; drastically, and for the better.

On 11 September, after this nation again remembers the worst attack on it's soil in it's history, General David Petreus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are going to give their reports to Congress. It is assured that many that they speak with won't be happy. It's even more assured that the shrieks and screams of the fever-swamp Left will try to drown out the good news. Problem with that is that good news is never stopped by the rantings of a few when the majority can latch onto it, and wave it like a banner.

The president was right. General Petreus was right. And we were right. It took the extra troops and a cohesive, no-holds-barred strategy to make this turning point occur. Now, it's a nexus, and one that can't be stopped as long as the mission continues to its fulfillment.

Publius II


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