Saturday, September 20, 2008

American Military Success in Iraq

The success of the Bush administration's surge strategy in Iraq is one of the most important military corrections in the history of America's wars.

I noted yesterday that
congressional Democrats refused a vote on recognizing the heroic work of U.S. forces in Iraq. A typical response to the surge by war opponents is to deny the efficacy of the troop build-up in securing peace (ethnic cleansing had run its course, so the story goes), and it's common to see nihilist enemy-cheerleaders proclaiming the surge a fraud in its entirety.

But according to Jack Keene, a retired four-star general in the U.S. Army, in an interview at this morning's Wall Street Journal, the success of the new counterinsurgency strategy exceeded even his own expectations:

Gen. Keane wants to make sure people understand why the surge worked. "I have a theory" about the unexpectedly fast turnaround, he says. "Whether they be Sunni, Shia or Kurd, anyone who was being touched by that war after four years was fed up with it. And I think once a solution was being provided, once they saw the Americans were truly willing to take risks and die to protect their women and children and their way of life, they decided one, to protect the Americans, and two, to turn in the enemies that were around them who were intimidating and terrorizing them; that gave them the courage to do it."

He adds that the so-called Sunni Awakening, and the effective surrender of Shia radical Moqtada Sadr and his Mahdi Army, depended upon the surge. "I'm not sure [the Sunni Awakening] would have spread to the other provinces without the U.S. [military] presence. We needed forces that we didn't previously have for the Sunnis to be able to rely on us to protect them." Sadr saw his lieutenants killed in the American push, and didn't want to share their fate.

Looking ahead, Gen. Keane still considers a robust American ground force "the secret to success" in Iraq. "It is a myth for people to assert that by pulling away from the Iraqis, by pulling away from the Iraqi political process, that somehow that becomes a catalyst to do things that they would not do because of our presence. That is fundamentally wrong. It is our presence that is helping Iraqis move forward."
Read the whole interview, here. Also, don't miss Keane, Frederick Kagan, and Kimberly Kagan, "The Endgame in Iraq."

Additionally, while our antiwar terrorist boosters here at home continue to deny victory on the ground, even
Barack Obama has come around to the majority consensus:

I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated ... It's succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.
I doubt the antiwar crowd will be calling out Obama for his endorsement of the Bush-Petreaus strategic victory.