Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Must Read: Ralph Peters Speaks With General David Petreaus

The drumbeat of defeatism is still quite prevalent in the chattering class punditocracy in the Beltway, and it is still more than evident in Washington, DC despite the Democrats recent caving in to demands to fund the troops. Ralph Peters had a discussion with General Petraeus where they discussed the year of progress in Iraq:

GEN. David Petraeus evokes the late Warren Zevon's line, "I'll sleep when I'm dead": His idea of downtime on Christmas Day was to answer a series of questions from The Post - after spending 11 hours out visiting our troops.

Relentless in his pursuit of our enemies and tireless in his pursuit of enduring results for Iraq, Petraeus is on track to become America's most successful four-star general since 1945.

Question: As a remarkable year draws to a close, what's your assessment of Iraq today?

A: "Our troopers and our Iraqi partners have wrested control of many of the sanctuaries from al Qaeda in Iraq and disrupted extremist networks throughout the country. Since the 'surge of offensives' began in June, attacks and civilian deaths have decreased by 60 percent.

"Our own losses have fallen substantially, as well - although each loss is a tough reminder of the cost of what's been achieved.

"Meanwhile, the Iraqi security forces are making an increasing impact on the battlefield. In the last year, they've not only added over 100,000 new soldiers and police, they've also gained in capability. The Iraqis now have well over 100 combat battalions solidly in the fight - sustaining losses at a rate two to three times our own.

"In 2008, the Iraqis will add some 30 additional battalions to help compensate for our reduction of about one-quarter of our own combat forces by the end of July.

"In some areas of Iraq today, the atmosphere resembles the spring of 2003, with many communities feeling 'liberated' once again - this time from al Qaeda and other extremist elements.

"That said, we should all be clear that what has been achieved could be reversed - the progress in many areas remains tenuous and the campaign to establish sustainable security is far from over. Al Qaeda, associated insurgent groups and militia extremists remain lethal. Nobody here is doing victory dances in the end zone."

Q: As the military situation improves, how are our tactics and strategy evolving?

A: "In the year ahead, we'll continue to focus on security for the population, living with those we seek to protect. You can't commute to this fight.

"Over time in the new year, we'll continue to thin our ranks as Iraqi forces take on more tasks. In many provinces, Iraqis already are completely in charge; in some areas, in fact, there are no coalition forces at all.

I urge readers to read the entire interview. It is telling on levels that many have forgotten since the general's initial, preliminary report on September 10th. Things have turned around. Iraqis have turned against al-Qaeda in ways many would not believe. Many still do not, but the fact remains that civilian deaths are down, US military casualties are down, and the Iraqis are stepping up despite the politicos in DC claiming it would never happen.

And this interview stands in stark contrast to opinion pieces like this one from Der Spiegel which claims that the West has failed miserably over the course of this year. According to Gabor Steingart, the Bhutto assassination caps this year's failures on the part of the West. Yet the author refuses to acknowledge any of the successes in Iraq; the claim is made in the opening paragraph that things continue to get worse in Iraq when, in fact, they are getting much better than they were a year or two ago.

Read the piece with the general. It is much more optimistic that our nuanced class in Europe -- a continent slowly being changed by the influx of radical Islamic thought and practice -- will ever admit.



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