Even as terrorists try to their best to sow fear, the signs of a major turnaround in Iraq continue as the inertia in the conflict now favors stability rather than violence.
Al-Anbar Province, once the center of violence in Iraq and a pipeline for terrorists, guns, and money is now a place of relative tranquility. The reason is simple: US resolve helped empower Iraqis to fight terrorism:
The U.S. military assault on Fallujah in 2004 yielded a significant U.S. victory both in moral and tactical terms, David Bellavia, a former staff sergeant with the U.S. Army who served with the First Infantry Division for six years, said in an interview.
“I call it my generation’s Normandy because it identified for the enemy what the American fighting man was all about,” he said. “They completely underestimated us and had this idea that because we couldn’t use our technology, we wouldn’t have intestinal fortitude to see the battle through, but this is what ultimately delivered us.”
In 2005, Bellavia received the Conspicuous Service Cross, the highest award for military valor in New York state. He is also the author of “House to House,” which chronicles the Battle of Fallujah in graphic detail.
The Rumsfeld strategy, while based on a sound premise, was ultimately based on the wrong premise. The worry was that more troops would mean more casualties, which emphasized the worries of American politicians rather than what really mattered—the security of Iraqi civilians. Even during the darkest days of the war, brave and resourceful military commanders like Col. H.R. McMaster were developing the tactics to fight and win in Iraq. In Fallujah, we demonstrated that we would not back down. That lesson was brought home time and time again, until finally the Iraqis started joining our side. Once that began to happen in a significant fashion, al-Qaeda was damned.
This ABC News report puts the usual spin on the good news: sure, violence is down, but will it last. What the media, Sen. Obama, and the rest of the antiwar partisans fail to understand is that the reduction in violence is the direct result of our fortitude on Iraq. For all of the President’s legion of faults, especially in the conduct of this war, his stubbornness may have saved Iraq from a humanitarian nightmare that would make Darfur look like nothing. His stubbornness and our military’s skill, combined with the bravery of the Iraqi people have paid off with a great peace dividend.
This peace will last so long as national reconciliation is in the interest of all the parties. The Sunnis are outnumbered. They tried violent resistance and were nearly ethnically cleansed. The Shi’ites also know that violence does not help them. They have political leverage, and because of that they have the most to lose if Iraq flies apart. They may have the numeric superiority, but if they start a civil war, the Sunnis will end up back in bed with al-Qaeda, and even if the Shi’ites win, it will be at a great cost, and would cause Iraq to fall into the hands of the Iranians. Iraqi and Iranians share a common religion, but nothing else.
Iraq can be peaceful, not because of some noble ambition, but because of enlightened self interest—and that is the most powerful force in the universe.
Yet all this could be undone by a public more interested in bread and circuses than world peace. The Democratic Party, by playing to the basest isolationist and xenophobic interests, is threatening the progress that has been made. A premature withdrawal from Iraq would undermine all this progress. If the US leaves, the Iraqis cannot yet keep the peace. A US presence is a necessity to provide the Iraqis with the security needed for progress. The argument that the US presence somehow undermines Iraq’s progress is ridiculous on its face—Iraq has made great political progress, and that progress is only possible because the Iraqis have security. If the Iraqi people cannot be secure in their homes, how can they possibly be expected to trust each other? I, for one, would love to see Sen. Obama spin his way out of that question.
Contrary to the ignorant and arrogant arguments that Iraqis are not pulling their weight, they are making great strides towards restoring the greatness of the nation of Iraq. Day by day, the Iraqis that work towards the betterment of their nation and fight against terror bring Iraq closer to the days when Baghdad can once again be a center of learning and commerce and a great world city.
We in America must never belittle their sacrifice. In a spirit of solidarity, we must continue to support our Iraqi allies in their fight against terror and oppression. Instead of giving them up, we should continue to support their struggles—after all, we were once a struggling young power as well.
It is fair to ask what we are fighting for. What we are fighting for in Iraq is this: that one day a joint US-Iraqi biotechnology venture can discover a cure for cancer, AIDS, or another terrible affliction. That some day, in a place like Darfur, US and Iraqi peacekeepers can work alongside each other again to restore another war-shattered country. That some day, Iraq will become a brother nation to us, an ally as great as those we liberated 60 years ago.
That dream is within the grasp of both the people of the United States and Iraq—but only if we do not let our short-term politics interfere.