Wretchard of Belmont Club takes a look at the facts and figures as major public figures continue to frantically reach for the panic button. Yes, the situation in Iraq is dangerous. The situation in Iraq has always been dangerous. Yes, 1,000+ soldiers have died. That’s still less than a 1% casualty rate, and far less than it could have been had our military not been the best trained on Earth.
What he notes is that all of this talk about an impending collapse in Iraq doesn’t match the facts. The insurgency is a problem, but it’s not catching on elsewhere. We made a serious mistake in not taking out the terrorists who now run Fallujah, but that isn’t a fatal mistake. Moqtada al-Sadr is hated in Iraq for making life terrible for his fellow Shi’a and for being a stooge for Iran. Ayatollah Sistani, who is at least somewhat accepting of democracy still has a powerful hold on the Shi’a. The Qaeda/Ba’athist terror axis is still plotting, but their indescriminate murder of thousands of Iraqis has not endeared them to the Iraqi people in any way.
This isn’t a state near collapse. It’s a state that has just gone through decades of despotism and is taking its first baby steps towards freedom. Only a fool would assume that Iraq would be democratic in a matter of years. I’ve been saying this for a long time. If we’re expecting to turn Iraq into Sweden this year, or next, or in 2010 or on any timetable that is dictated by anything but the Iraqi people. we’ll be disappointed. We’re in this for the long haul, and we have an obligation born out of not only simple morality but our own self interest to finish the job we started.
There are those who would rather see Bush and the US defeated than see a democratic Iraq and a Bush re-election. One would hope that this kind of idiotic and childish partisanship would fade over time, but one cannot be sure. What is certain is that groups like MoveOn.org are working to lose this war for us – whether it is out of simpleminded partisanship or anti-Americanism hatred is an academic question. What there can be little doubt of is that disgusting ads like this harm the morale of our troops and embolden the enemy to kill more of them. Yes, in this country we have the right to free speech, but one cannot ignore the obvious consequences of such actions and weigh free speech against the harm it would create.
The fact is that Iraq is on a long, slow road to democracy. There will be stumbles, setbacks, and mistakes. No plan is perfect, and no plan survives first contact with the enemy. However, the argument that Iraq is a “quagmire” that is soon to explode has been made time and time again and has yet to materialize. The only way we can lose Iraq is if we chose to do so. So long as we show more resolution than the terrorists, we can and will give the Iraqi people the chance they need. The United States bears the moral obligation as well as reasons of self-interest in ensuring that a free and democratic Iraq rises from the ashes of the old. Neither Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi nor MoveOn.org should be allowed to derail that important mission.