Written 7 July
Through all the difficulties and achievements in Iraq, there have been those who never wavered in their resolve for a successful outcome. Victory may not yet be in hand, but you can see it from here.
Iraq is now a much different country because some Americans held firmly to accomplishing what others said could not be done.
The conditions are now indisputably better, and have remained so as the “Surge” troops come home.
Progressing from Anbar province through the rest of the country, with consecutive operations and triumphs, most recently in Mosul, coalition and Iraqi forces have implemented a successful counterinsurgency strategy.
Reports of violence are down by 80%. Civilian and military deaths are at all time lows. All reports are that Al Qaeda is decimated. Bottom up reconciliation and cooperation at higher and higher levels continues to occur. Iraqi forces and government agencies are continuously more effective. 15 of 18 benchmarks are met. There are consistent reports of life being or returning to normal.
Iraq is on its way to peace, and hopefully our troops are on their way home soon.
Many of the surge forces have already been withdrawn, and all indications are that more are likely on the way out. The progress and positive trends have continued while we’ve reduced forces indicating lasting conditions suitable for further reductions.
Many Democrats no longer demand cutting and running as they once did. The latest Iraq war spending bill passed through Congress nearly unopposed.
Most American press organizations have pulled their bureaus and many of their reporters from Iraq. Good news is not news. Most of the news from Iraq now comes via military and foreign, especially British, sources.
Liberals are increasingly quiet on the subject. It’s hard to scream for defeat when likely victory is blatantly staring America right smack in the face.
We’ve reached a point where the bloviating by politicians about Iraq through this election cycle may be pointless. If conditions continue to improve as they have, our troops will be proudly returning home because they’ve succeeded, regardless of what happens in November.
And through it all, there have been those who have stood firm in a commitment to victory.
First is an unwavering belief in our troops.
They truly are incredible and unflappable. There has never been a reason to lose hope in their ability to implement the tactics necessary to one of the most difficult strategies known in warfare (counterinsurgency), as we asked them to do. Their enlisted leadership is outstanding, capable of carrying them through even the most daunting challenges. Our career officer corps has committed themselves to the art of warfare. It is the profession for which they study, train, and execute remarkably well. I’ve seen all three groups in action first-hand and thus never doubted their capacity for developing a winning plan and employing it.
There was an inherent trust that senior military members would develop a sound strategy and lead our troops through it. There was confidence that the troops would get the job done.
Some have never lost faith in our troops’ ability to win.
Second is a belief in the Iraqi people. Having had the opportunity to work with them and get to personally know so many, I grasped that they longed for a better life than had been offered by Saddam and was being presented by Al Qaeda. They understood freedom, but achieving it through a democratic state was not a clear path. After a generation of brutality and oppression they’d had no experience in self rule. But they never lacked the capacity for success, or the dreams to realize it.
Enough Americans never lost the intuitive concept of people’s desire to live free from the oppression of a tyrant or the brutality of terrorists, nor the suffering they would endure to achieve such a state.
Some doubted the Iraqi people. Some did not.
Lastly is the American penchant for victory and the leadership possessed within our society to achieve it. From small town America to Washington D.C., ordinary citizens to soldiers to political leaders, enough Americans understand and embrace the bounty of success, are repulsed by the consequences of defeat, and optimistically hold fast to that which brings the positive outcome.
Still alive in America today are the unconquerable souls General Patton once said were necessary to insuring victory, as are the echoes of his words, “America loves a winner…”