“Do you think your friendship with the locals is genuine?” I askedit continues...
Lieutenant Colonel Silverman. Ramadi is in the heart of Iraq’s Sunni Triangle,
the most anti-American region in all of Iraq. I had seen what appeared to be
genuine friendship and warmth from the Iraqis I’d met, but it was impossible to
tell from anecdotal experience if that sentiment was typical in Anbar Province
or even real.
“I do,” he said. “Don’t just assume Iraqis are faking their friendship. The
first time I was here in 2003 I made friends with locals in Salah a Din
Province. They still email and call me to talk even though they know there is
nothing I can do for them now that I’m out here in Ramadi. Some of the people we
work with just want to make money. For them it’s all business and has nothing to
do with their private opinions of us. But most really do want to make Iraq
better. You can tell when you interact with people one-on-one if they’re
sincere. You can see right through people who are insincere. Many of these guys
have been in fire fights with us, so I know they’re on our side.”
“The average Iraqi post-Fallujah was not very happy with us being here,” heAt this point, it is beyond arguement that our administration went into Iraq without even the basic knowledge of the complexities of the relationships in their country and complexities of the relationship in their society, however reading any interview with any military person that is no longer the case. Their society structure is now being used in our favor. In other words, our troops now know how to win Iraq.
said. “If the insurgency only attacked Americans, the people of Ramadi would not
have been very upset. But Al Qaeda infiltrated and took over the insurgency.
They massively overplayed their hand. They cut off citizens’ heads with kitchen
knives. The locals slowly learned that the propaganda about us were lies, and
that Al Qaeda was their real enemy. They figured out by having dinner and tea
with us that we really are, honest to God, here to help them.”
Province as a whole isn’t completely secured yet. But most areas have been
cleared, and it’s increasingly difficult for terrorists and insurgents to even
show up in the province let alone find refuge there.
“Anbar Province all
along the Euphrates used to be one huge rat line for getting terrorists into
Baghdad from Syria,” he said. A rat line, in military speak, is an enemy
logistics route. “That’s over.”
“Do you think what happened here can
happen in Baghdad?” I said.
He sat motionless for a time and considered
carefully what I had asked him. It was obvious by the look on his face that he
wasn’t particularly optimistic about it.
“I don’t know,” he finally
said. “One advantage we had here was that the tribes are like small communities,
like in rural America. The sheikhs are politically powerful. If we turn them, we
turn the people. Urban areas erode tribal affiliation. It’s still there in
Baghdad, but it’s weaker. So I don’t know. It did work in the urban parts of
Ramadi, though. If we can get it to work in all the provinces in Iraq – and it
is working in Diyala Province right now, I know it is – then maybe it can work
in Baghdad. It’s hard to say.”
He’s right that the formula works in
Diyala Province, and in Salah a Din Province as well. Both provinces, like
Anbar, are made up mostly of Sunni Arabs and have had similar troubles with Al
Qaeda in Iraq. Even some tribes in the Shia South are beginning to emulate the
Anbar model and work with the Americans against Shia militias.
Then, there is this article from J.C. Watts
I once heard a fellow say, "If you don't believe it, it's not because there's
not enough evidence for you to believe it."
As in so many circumstances
in politics, this pearl of wisdom applies to the war in Iraq. Democrat
leadership keeps saying they don't and won't believe that we're having success
in Iraq, but it's not because things aren't going favorably for the good guys.
Such is the case with the Democrat leadership on all matters Iraq. Maybe
it's just me, but I'm thinking the Democrats have invested a lot in seeing the
United States not win in Iraq. So many have invested politically in our
non-success that they don't want to hear truth and they ignore evidence.
Conversely, Republicans were so politically invested in winning that we ignored
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's failed war policies early on.
evidence of this failed investment, one needs to look no further than their
local headlines before Gen. David Petraeus testified before Congress. Talk about
a rush to pre-judgment.
"Democrats Already Discrediting Upcoming Petraeus
Report," bannered an ABCNews.com story. Leaving any doubt that Sen. Harry Reid
knows the heart and mind of one of the most respected military leaders our
country has produced, the majority leader proclaimed, "(Petraeus' report) will
pass through the White House spin machine, where facts are often ignored or
twisted, and intelligence is cherry-picked."
As if that weren't
conclusive enough, Reid impugned the general's integrity with this gem: "He has
made a number of statements over the years that have not proven to be factual."
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois came out with this whopper. "Even if the
figures are right, the conclusion is wrong."
And, perhaps my favorite of
all, wanna-be president Sen. Joe Biden -- a self-proclaimed civilian expert on
foreign affairs -- had the impudence the week before his testimony to declare
Petraeus is "flat, dead wrong."
Frankly, I agree with those who believe
the execution of the war under Rumsfeld was abysmal. Sen. John McCain and others
were correct when they said at the outset of the war that we didn't have enough
troops in play. We now have employed a strategy devised by those on the ground,
using reasonable and objective standards, who say we can win this thing if we
just show some resolve.
The Democrats constantly referred to Iraq policy
as a failed policy, and called for a new strategy.
But when the
president and his new team devised the "surge" strategy early this year,
Democrats acted like a 6-year old who didn't get the video game he wanted for
Christmas. After much counsel and debate, the president and his team recommended
more boots on the ground.
More troops allowed the Syrian and Iranian borders
to be more secure, and kept out more of the agitators.
It also allowed a
ring around Baghdad to keep the bad guys out, letting the good guys, led by the
Iraqis and reinforced by U.S. troops, go door to door, flushing out insurgents.
This new strategy worked to create tangible results and is trending this brutal
war in the right direction.
Predictably, the president's move to draw down
troops over the coming months isn't enough for the naysayers.
months ago, the Senate voted unanimously for Petraeus to take on the job of
executing the new strategy in Iraq. Why? Because Petraeus, by all accounts, is a
Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services
Committee, called the general "America's finest." MoveOn.org called him "General
McCain called him the most impressive man he'd seen in
action in a long time. Allies of the Democrats call him a war criminal.
The facts and evidence in the general's testimony were supportive of the
new strategy. The military objectives of the surge are being met. Violence is
declining. Petraeus will withdraw a brigade of combat troops in mid-December,
followed by reduction in more troops over the first half of 2008.
locals are working with the U.S. military. Many who were enemies are now our
allies. We're trending in the right direction.
Fact is, if you're going
to invest in the failure of this effort in Iraq, enough is never going to be
enough. It's unfortunate but it's where we are.
No insult toward a
soldier is more injurious than to be accused of betraying his country. Petraeus
accepted one of the toughest assignments in our nation's history, and is
investing his life to keep us safe at home.
The way Petraeus has been
treated by anti-war zealots is testament to how even good soldiers will be
treated if they don't accept the losing, anti-war line.
It would not
just be a shame, but a tragedy if we all gave up, just when we found a strategy
for success. The anti war movement is known to say that we have tried many new
strategies, and we have. Lincoln went through four generals before settling on
US Grant. Had the anti war folks succeeded with that arguement America would
look quite different today. It is never too late to find the right strategy, and
this situation is too important to write it off as hopeless because you have
found defeat convenient or politically advantageous.
Before anyone pulls our troops out, we all must ask then what...