Point And Counterpoint

Two articles on the war in Iraq: the first from StrategyPage:

In the last six months, the U.S. Army is seeing 15 percent more soldiers re-enlist than expected. This continues a trend that began in 2001. Every year since then, the rate at which existing soldiers have re-enlisted has increased. This despite the fact that 69 percent of the troops killed in Iraq have been from the army. New recruits continue to exceed join up at higher rates as well.

All this is extremely important, especially when there is a war going on. Experience saves lives in combat, and more of the most experienced troops are staying in. This means that, a decade from now, the army will have a large and experienced corps of senior NCOs. That, in turn, means the younger troops are likely to well trained and led.

The army makes a big thing, internally, about the number of troops re-enlisting, especially within combat units that are in Iraq or Afghanistan. Pictures of mass re-enlistments are published in military media, but the civilian media has generally ignored this phenomena. Also ignored, except by some local media interviewing locals who are in the army, is the positive attitude of the troops, especially those in combat units. The large number of re-enlistments occur because the troops believe they are making a difference, and winning. This is especially true for soldiers who have come back to Iraq on a second tour, and noted the improvements since the first tour.

These are the men and women who take the brunt of the sniper fire, IED blasts, VBIED attackes, ambushes, and the worst that Iraq has to offer. And yet, they’re going on second and sometimes third tours of duty. Polling is only so useful a tool, but when you start to see people “voting” with their feet – and in this case with their very lives, it’s quite telling.

Meanwhile, on the other side:

Al Qaeda in Iraq and its presumed leader, Abu Musab Zarqawi, have conceded strategic defeat and are on their way out of the country, a top U.S. military official contended yesterday.

The group’s failure to disrupt national elections and a constitutional referendum last year “was a tactical admission by Zarqawi that their strategy had failed,” said Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who commands the XVIII Airborne Corps.

“They no longer view Iraq as fertile ground to establish a caliphate and as a place to conduct international terrorism,” he said in an address at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Gen. Vines’ statement came as news broke that coalition and Iraqi forces had killed an associate of Osama bin Laden’s during an early morning raid near Abu Ghraib about two weeks ago.

Rafid Ibrahim Fattah aka Abu Umar al Kurdi served as a liaison between terrorist networks and was linked to Taliban members in Afghanistan, Pakistani-based extremists and other senior al Qaeda leaders, the military said yesterday.

Granted, The Washington Times isn’t the most credible source on the planet, but this does coincide with other sources that indicate that al-Qaeda in Iraq has been forced to deal with considerable friction between their foreign mujihadeen and the Iraqis who are viewing them as nothing more than foreign thugs. Al-Zarqawi himself has tried to make himself less of the central figurehead for al-Qaeda operations in Iraq, but al-Qaeda has already worn out their welcome in even hotbeds of violence like al-Anbar Province. Al-Qaeda would go into towns like Tel Afar and try to enforce their strict Islamic law – and the locals didn’t care for it one bit. Al-Zarqawi’s hope was to create an Islamic state within al-Anbar that would provide a base of operations across the rest of Iraq. That has not happened, and it never will.

Al-Qaeda is hoping that the US will bug out of Iraq, which is the only way they can salvage their situation. As long as the US is there, al-Qaeda cannot establish a foothold – which is why al-Qaeda resources are beginning to be diverted to other targets such as Afghanistan – where even there they are finding things less than hospitable.

The biggest problem we have in Iraq is the sectarian violence, not the “insurgency.” Militarily and politically the insurgency has been isolated and is unable to do much more than launch attacks against soft targets.

This has always been a war of attrition, and the reality is that the war at home is going far worse than the war in Iraq. The real battle for Iraq may end up being held in the halls of government, both in Washington and the Green Zone of Baghdad. The Iraqis need to break the deadlock over their political leadership and the Bush Administration needs to be able to convince the American people not to give into despair over the incredibly biased and misleading propaganda served up by the mainstream media.

This remains a critical time for the future of Iraq, but the notion that none of these problems are solvable simply isn’t true. The much-vaunted insurgency which Michael Moore so disgustingly compared to “Minutemen” is on the run, and the majority of problems in Iraq have become political rather than military problems. Things could still fall apart, but one has to ask why if the situation in Iraq is so bad, why are US troops returning to the field with a cadre of experienced and battle-tested troops and al-Qaeda’s mujihadeen seeking their own exit strategy from increasingly inhospitable terrain?

One thought on “Point And Counterpoint

  1. What have the conservatives actually done for America ?
    Compile for me a list-and send independently verified historically accurate proof.

    For every one you prove I will send $ 1000 to your favorite charity.

    Then let me compile my list of the accomplishments of liberals and progressives.
    You will be obliged to match my donation, in the same sum, to my charity.


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