Saturday, March 15, 2008

Army Sergeant Testifies to Iraq Success, While Left Keeps Head in Sand

Anthony J. Diaz, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve, argues at today's Washington Post that success in Iraq is real and undeniable, and political progress continues apace (via Memeorandum):

One often reads of the chaos plaguing Iraq. Yet the media accounts only infrequently seem to grasp the successes being achieved....

Late last year, I witnessed something inspirational in a rather unlikely setting: an ordinary neighborhood advisory council meeting. Attendance was the highest I had yet seen, with about 40 prominent locals present. The coalition was represented by our squadron commander, a few colonels from the embedded provincial reconstruction team and a political officer from the U.S. Embassy. Discussions ranged from the persistent lack of electricity to sewage problems to economic development. What struck me were the comments of some Sunni workers from the district's power station, who came to complain that the (mostly Shiite) Iraqi army had mistreated them and accused them of distorting the distribution of electric power, something over which these workers have little control. The men said they would strike until they received better treatment and pleaded with the council chairman, a Sunni, for help. That was an unlikely outcome, given the entrenched animosity between Shiites and Sunnis and the lack of substantive political reconciliation even at the highest levels of government here. But these men did something many Americans would take for granted: They voiced grievances and sought assistance. These are the seeds of representative government, citizens coming forth and demanding change from their representatives. Much work remains to be done, but we have clearly made a start.

Even the Iraqi army has taken a turn for the better here. Not long ago its troops were seen as an obstacle to reconciliation and were accused of arresting locals without evidence, only to request ransoms for their release. There are still occasional incidents of graft and abuse, but now Iraqi troops provide security and make efforts to build rapport with the populace.

Through continuous prodding, our squadron has influenced the local army contingent's understanding of the values of civil affairs. One particularly adept Iraqi captain has coordinated numerous efforts to hand out humanitarian assistance, organized medical and dental missions in local schools, provided security for deliveries of much-needed fuel, and even delivered wheelchairs himself.

There is still much left to be accomplished in Iraq. But the successes of the men and women serving in this once explosive area of Baghdad cannot be overstated. Sitting here in Adhamiyah, one thing is certain: The surge has worked.
That's the straight story from an Army reservist, but note as well what Lieutenant General Raymond T. Odierno said this week:

Explaining the reduction in violence and its stra­tegic significance has been the subject of much debate. It's tempting for those of us personally con­nected to the events to exaggerate the effects of the surge. By the same token, it's a gross oversimplifica­tion to say, as some commentators have, that the positive trends we're observing have come about because we paid off the Sunni insurgents or because Muqtada al-Sadr simply decided to announce a ceasefire. These assertions ignore the key variable in the equation--the Coalition's change in strategy and our employment of the surge forces.
That oversimplification - indeed, dissonance - is hard to resist. At the same time that more and more indicators of success become available, hard-left nihilist forces here at home continue to deny military and political progress in Iraq.

Newshoggers, while not on the top-tier of the America-bashing left blogosphere, nevertheless is relentless in its campaign of demonization and denial of America's emerging victory. See

I stick by my assessment that the US Surge is preordained to fail - that internal Iraqi dynamics dictate that as soon as the various factions have cause to fight instead of hold fire, they will do so and that none are invested in finding cause not to fight while the U.S. acts as buffer and protector to all. Which means that, eventually, there will be a fight in which the US can either take sides, be shot at by all sides or withdraw. Better to withdraw first.

Well, all of
the military improvement this last year has discounted any predetermination of defeat. The Newshoggers' post is windy and confused, in any case, but the conclusion is what really matters: "Better to withdraw first"

There you have it, damn the consequences.

The U.S. will be in Iraq for a long time. Depending on what happens in the short-term politically, we're likely to have as many as 70-80 thousand service personnel in the theater a decade from now.

The odds of that happening will be better, of course, if this fall's election results in the accession to power of an administration not beholden to a nihilist, defeatist antiwar war fringe unable or unwilling objectively assess the dramatic turnaround of America's strategic fortunes in Iraq.

See also, Captian Ed, at Hot Air.