Don Surber argues that the war in Iraq has been won as the US and the Iraqis work together on a bilateral accord that would see the majority of US troops out of Iraq by the beginning of 2009.
I think that the changes in Iraq are sustainable and that al-Qaeda in Iraq has been largely driven out of the country. What we have achieved in Iraq this year is one of the most crucial and least understood military victories in history. It’s easy to think that the war is over.
Unfortunately, it isn’t. Another attack like the one against the Golden Mosque in Samarra could launch another set of recriminations. AQI is beaten, but there are still “dead enders” who won’t go without a fight. We are entering a new phase in this conflict, but it won’t be the sort of victory we saw at the end of World War II in which the belligerent power is forced to sign an unconditional surrender on the deck of an American battleship. There won’t be a V-I day like there was a V-E Day and a V-J Day in World War II. There won’t even necessarily be a signal like the fall of the Berlin Wall to note the monumental nature of this change.
The war in Iraq isn’t necessarily over, it’s just entering a new phase. In this phase, Iraqis will be doing most of the work, with the help of the US when requested. The Iraqis will have the make the political compromises necessary to bring Iraq forward. They will be on the front lines against terrorism for some time, and they will still face attacks by those who are threatened by the very idea of a representative democracy taking wing in the Arab world.
Our troops are still at risk, and the situation in Iraq remains far too fluid to call this a victory. We won the first war in Iraq when Saddam Hussein’s regime was toppled, and what has followed is part of a global war on terrorism that will more fade into a series of police actions than end in the conventional sense.
We should be extremely proud of what has been done in Iraq, by the Multinational Forces – Iraq and the people of Iraq, all of whom have put their lives on the line to give Iraq a chance. The battle isn’t yet over, and too many false victories have been declared as it is to repeat the same mistake. Iraq is stabilizing, and we are making more progress than ever, but it is simply too soon to declare victory in a war that is still ongoing.