Friday, November 23, 2007

Let's Talk About Iraq

Victor Davis Hanson, once again, paints us a picture the MSM refuses to. This war has been fraught with mistakes (is there a perfect war?) But the results are turning out to have unexpected but important consequences.

The post-war occupation was supposed to be difficult, but few envisioned a bloody four-year struggle. Instead, after the fall of Saddam, al Qaeda chose to escalate its war against the West by sending thousands of jihadists into the new battleground of Iraq — in part, to aid the Sunni and ex-Baathist insurgencies in their wars against the U.S., and the Shiites. The violence that ensued left tens of thousands dead, and resulted in nearly 4,000 American battle fatalities. We spent nearly a trillion dollars, as public support dropped from a 70-percent approval of the war to less than 40-percent. Yet it was not the American military that was ruined fighting an unpopular war in the heart of the ancient caliphate, but most likely al Qaeda who has lost thousands, (and, far more importantly, completely destroyed its Pan-Arabic mystique of religious purity). The more the jihadists fought, the more they were killed by the U.S. military — while kidnapping, murdering, stealing, mutilating, raping, and outraging Iraqi civilians. Nothing is worse in the Arab world than to be seen as weak and cruel, and al Qaeda proved, eventually, to be both on Al-Jazeera.

This is an issue of enormous importance that the media has not mentioned much less focused on. The Arab world, the Arab people have seen al Qaeda for what they really are...cruel monsters, not holy warriors. Do you see how this changes everything for us? By fighting al Qaeda as we did, focusing on trying to protect the Iraq, we changed how they felt about Americans. While the media and the left paint Americans as intruders, the Arabs are seeing close up what our military is really about. Changing things for the better for Iraqi's.

Hanson explains how the Sunni insurgents were defeated and had to be. And how that all has changed.

So there is a sort of tragic irony here too. It may well be that the Sunni tribes have learned, only through their failed insurgency, that they cannot defeat the U.S. military; that their Sunni al Qaeda allies were far worse than we are; that the Shiite government is not going away; and that the United States is an honest broker of sorts that is advancing their interests with the Shiite majority. The unexpected result of all this is that it is only now — after the Sunnis have fought, lost, and learned the futility of continued resistance — that there a better chance for a lasting stability.

This war is far from over. Mistakes were made, but for now we are seeing a promising and wonderful ending to the war. For most of us, this is the ending we wanted. A page of history turned in our favor. A country that was a sworn enemy becomes a friend. An Arab world that views us differently. A western world that understands more about what we need to do in the Middle East. It has come with a high price, a precious price. Which why it is so important that we not give in or give up. We will make a better world, not only for ourselves, but especially for all the men and women who gave all for us to do so.

Nothing is for certain in any war — as the savage ironies of Iraq have shown the last four years. Few envisioned the initial brilliant three-week war, and the utter and rapid defeat of Saddam. Fewer foresaw the ensuing bloody four-year occupation. And the fewest of all anticipated that out of that mess, the present chance at stability and a real reconciliation under a constitutional framework could come.

The lessons are only the eternal ones: that wars won’t be fought as believed and won’t end as planned, but that adaptability, self-critique, and persistence, in an effort believed to be both right and necessary, will eventually prevail.

h/t BigDog