Friday, June 13, 2008

How Iraq Got Her Groove On

America is very close to succeeding in Iraq. The "near-strategic defeat" of al Qaeda in Iraq described by CIA Director Michael Hayden last month in the Washington Post has been followed by the victory of the Iraqi government's security forces over illegal Shiite militias, including Iranian-backed Special Groups.

The enemies of Iraq and America now cling desperately to their last bastions, while the political process builds momentum.

These tremendous gains remain fragile and could be lost to skillful enemy action, or errors in Baghdad or Washington. But where the U.S. was unequivocally losing in Iraq at the end of 2006, we are just as unequivocally winning today.

By February 2008, America and its partners accomplished a series of tasks thought to be impossible. The Sunni Arab insurgency and al Qaeda in Iraq were defeated in Anbar, Diyala and Baghdad provinces, and the remaining leaders and fighters clung to their last urban outpost in Mosul.

The Iraqi government passed all but one of the "benchmark" laws (the hydrocarbon law being the exception, but its purpose is now largely accomplished through the budget) and was integrating grass-roots reconciliation with central political progress. The sectarian civil war had ended.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), swelled by 100,000 new recruits in 2007, was fighting hard and skillfully throughout Iraq. The Shiite-led government was showing an increasing willingness to use its forces even against Shiite militias. The announcement that provincial elections would be held by year's end galvanized political movements across the country, focusing Iraq's leaders on the need to get more votes rather than more guns.

Three main challenges to security and political progress remained: clearing al Qaeda out of Mosul; bringing Basra under the Iraqi government's control; and eliminating the Special Groups safe havens in Sadr City. It seemed then that these tasks would require enormous effort, entail great loss of life, and take the rest of the year or more. Instead, the Iraqi government accomplished them within a few months.

The war is not over. Enemy groups are reforming, rearming and preparing new attacks. Al Qaeda in Iraq will conduct spectacular attacks in 2008 wherever it can. Special Groups and their JAM affiliates will probably reconstitute within a few months and launch new offensives timed to influence both the American and Iraqi elections in the fall.

And for all its progress and success, the ISF is not yet able to stand on its own. Coalition forces continue to play key support roles, maintaining stability and security in cleared but threatened areas, and serving as impartial and honest brokers between Iraqi groups working toward reconciliation.

But success is in sight. Compared with the seemingly insurmountable obstacles already overcome, the remaining challenges in Iraq are eminently solvable – if we continue to pursue a determined strategy that builds on success rather than throwing our accomplishments away.

No one in December 2006 could have imagined how far we would have come in 18 months. Having come this far, we must see this critical effort through to the end.

submitted by KiMbErLy

Look for Kimberly's new book ""The Surge: A Military History," forthcoming from Encounter Books.

5 comments:

Findalis said...

The Surge which the left was all against is working well..

The situation in Iraq is where we should have been in 2004 if we had done the job right. And we won't be there longer if conditions continue as they have been. People forget that it took the US 10 years to pacify Germany after WW 2. In those days you didn't hear the left crying for the boys to come home immediately. They knew that if they left the job undone, they would be fighting another Hitler in 20 years.

We must think in the same lines. We do the job right now, so we won't have to come back and fix the problem later.

Nikki said...

Excellent post and Excellent information...on the verge of success! Yes where is the media to report it? :)N

Ben Sutherland said...

There's a lot of encouraging news to report. Krauthammer has an excellent column on the situation in Iraq, today, in the Post, that mirrors a lot of what you post here, Courtney.

It's an important message. Krauthammer's right. It is the selling point for McCain. It is the reason why I am voting McCain, at this point (as well as stronger economic and health care proposals, though all the huff and puff on Iran and diplomacy with rogue regimes could persuade me different if he doesn't start engaging a more honest and thoughtful debate/discussion on the matter rather than repeating the same swaggering assertions over and over again; that's the whole fuckin' point of democracy, if we take a moment to remember).

Americans are catching wind of this news, slowly, I think. The question is whether Obama will back away from the careless and self-righteous liberal pressure for a withdrawal, independent of needs on the ground, or whether he will toe the left-wing line.

There are too many important issues in this campaign that need debating to let bluster and swagger undermine a more honest debate and discussion.

Bluster and swagger in lieu of discussion and debate is for the stupid and the arrogant. I have no interest in America being either.

This report is a nice reminder of that.

Debbie said...

Success is in reach ... we cannot let Obama undo all the sacrifices this country has made.

(SACRAMENTO) - A historic "candy diplomacy" program is being launched today
that will provide U.S. Troops with 100,000 bags of the popular Jelly Belly
gourmet jelly beans for distribution to the children and people of Iraq and
Afghanistan.

Thanks to Mrs. Ronald Reagan

Karen said...

I was gonna mention the Krauthammer article, too. It's good. The Left have unabashedly insisted on defeat in the war in Iraq and it is maddening. Let the surge play out. The outcome has been very encouraging.

You are doing some fine work here, Courtney.