The Washington Post runs with a story that US troops are in negotiation with the Ba’athist insurgents to end their part of the Iraqi terrorist insurgency. It appears that the Sunnis are realizing that they’re in a war that they simply cannot win. The stategy of using the media as a weapon against the US and the coalition has failed to be effective – the US is still in Iraq and will not leave until asked or until the job is done. Attempted attacks on the Shi’a have failed to bring about civil war in Iraq, and terrorist strongholds like Fallujah and now Ramadi are taking their toll on the ability of the Ba’athists to achieve their goals.
The available data suggests that the Sunni insurgents are still capable of showing strength within their strongholds and menacing traffic on the Baghdad streets. However, even within their bailiwicks, their capabilities are not decisive. They have been unable to impede or even delay the political goals set by the US as evidenced by their failure to stop the January 30 elections. Moreover, they are unable to project any significant combat power in Shi’ite and Kurdish areas. Faced with the loss of oil revenues, a growing Iraqi security force and the gradual depletion of their stored weapons and suffering a terrible attrition rate their relative power is irretrievably on the wane.
Sen. Clinton’s optimism, the recent events in Syria, the continued crackdown on terrorists in Iraq, the increasing effectiveness of the Iraqi police and military, and now this are all indications that the terrorist’s guerilla war in Iraq is on the wane. This isn’t Vietnam, and it never has been. That superficial analysis grows steadily less and less relevant with each day.
Instead, what we are seeing is a vindication of the dreaded neoconservatives. The argument was that the invasion of Iraq would have a domino effect across the Middle East – well, Palestine has had its first largely free election and is negotiating with Israel. Israel is making concessions and removing settlements. The Lebanese are seeking freedom from Syria. There’s an active pro-democracy movement in Iran. There are increasing demands for democratic reforms elsewhere as well.
It took a little over a decade from The Gulag Archipelago to Solidarity to the fall of the Berlin Wall to the end of the Soviet empire. It will take some time for democracy to truly spread forth in the Middle East and there will be setbacks along the way. However, there is little question that the side of totalitarianism is on the run, both in Iraq and in the broader Middle East. We sit at a crossroads in history, one of the most important of our age, and it is through the will of the US and its allies combined with the will of the people of Iraq that we are making these changes. So long as that will holds, the future of the Middle East will be written by a collection of free peoples, not by mullahs, dictators, and autocrats.