Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The War We Weren't Suppose To Win

Greyhawk at Mudville has such a good post up I want you to read the whole thing. His perspective on the war is something I have depended on greatly during my time of blogging. He was always fair, always honest in his assessment. But most importantly....he was boots on the ground. He was there.

Milblogs gave us a window into this war that was amazing in that nothing like that was possible in wars before. It wasn't some journalist giving his opinion or reporting. It was men and women fighting the fight and opening up their world to us. There were no starry eyed posts. There were no political rantings. There was just real stories of battles, of friends lost, of determination, of sadness, and of bravery. It has seemed as if I could feel the ebb and flow of the war reading the Milblogs. I knew when things were going badly and I knew when things were looking up. It was in their writings and in the honesty born of their sacrifice.

God, I love them. Our Warriors.

But, back to Greyhawk. He writes of getting ready for his second deployment to Iraq:

As we went from the hospital to the dentist to finance to all the other fine locations you must clear in order to prove that you really really want to go to Iraq we noticed every television in every waiting room tuned to the news story of the century: Anna Nicole Smith. Meanwhile, the initial briefings on the surge were delivered to empty seats.

But I was successfully poked, prodded, and stamped a-ok, and I got to go to Iraq - for my second tour. While I was there I had a different perspective than Mike Yon. I had a view of the bigger picture, knew how many missions were ongoing, knew where the fighting was, and knew how fierce it was. But a funny thing happened through the summer of '07: all the right numbers fell. Casualties - down, attacks of every sort - down, violence - down. And the right numbers rose: tips from citizens - up, trained Iraqi soldiers - up, and on and on. Amazingly, a much expected "Tet Offensive" immediately prior to General Petraeus' September briefing to Congress didn't happen. More amazingly, "violence" didn't return to high levels during Ramadan (a month that began with the General's briefing and had many folks "in the know" questioning the sanity of those who timed it) either.

Greyhawk saw long ago the narrative the media and the left would make of our victory:

The narrative on Iraq - the one you see in the media, that is - is changing. Claims that "we've lost" and that American soldiers have been beaten by opponents who are righteous heroes or nine-foot tall and bullet proof are being quite subtly shifted to arguments that no potential victory (if even grudgingly acknowledged) could be worth the price. This argument may prove irresistible to those who've invested heavily in defeat.

And we all know who those people are.

We all know that the fact that so much has been accomplished in Iraq doesn't mean the war on terror is over. Danger still exists. We will never live in a perfect world. But we can take a moment to relish that we (along with very brave Iraqi citizens and soldiers) ended a civil war, decimated al-Qaeda there and the Sadrist militia. We can marvel that the Iraqi government has accomplished almost all the legislative benchmarks set by Congress and the Bush Administration.

A page in history is about to turn, and I am so grateful that the last line on that page will read that America never gave up, never backed down, and fought the good fight to victory.

But there is no doubt in my mind that during our lifetime nothing will change between the right and the left. Both sides will retreat in their corners. The left will say Iraq was never worth it, even won. The right will resent the left for believing that.

Only history will tell us if this war was worth it. Only history will judge if the Middle East changed, if the tide turned, and if radical Islam was defeated.