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May 26, 2004

The War In Iraq: Progress Report « GWOT »

I really can't go into specifics, much. I hate jail time, yanno? So I'll just give you an overall impression instead, okay?

I'm surprised, disconcerted, upset, and disappointed in how the conflict has progressed since I left right at the beginning of the year. I left this place in pretty good shape, and when I come back, just look at the mess everyone made of it in my absence!

No, seriously, I really thought that capturing Saddam would be a turning point, and I even predicted that things would be largely calm by March at the latest. Obviously, I was absolutely wrong.

But I do try to point out: in matters of serious import, when you have an opponent actively trying to stymie your efforts, the best-laid plans do often go awry. Sometimes ours has.

And yet, it also hasn't.

Where is the nation-wide uprising of Iraqis who reject our presence? We've avoided that pretty well. Where's the reign of death and destruction in the United States to repay the indignation of having a leading Muslim leader deposed and/or humiliated? Absent, but not from their lack of trying. Where is the huge Shia-Sunni civil war? It's been more than a year, and there hasn't been one yet...not even close, actually. There's actually more of split among the Shias right now, with Muqtada al-Sadr leading a group of uneducated, pessimistic thugs only on the basis of a message of hate and anger...

See, I was frustrated we didn't squash Muqtada like a grape when he started causing problems. He took advantage of the negative press regarding Fallujah to create a ruckus that would increase opportunities for negative, anti-US press. We tried all sorts of methods to get him to back down, but he has stubbornly hung on. As recently as a week ago, it looked like he was expanding the fight against us, attracting followers, and gaining ground.

And then over the course of one weekend, our slow, patient, indirect methods started bearing fruit. Muqtada al-Sadr's star is waning, and waning fast....and we did it without having to destroy a mosque, bomb a village, and much of the population of Iraq blames Muqtada al-Sadr for the hardships/disruptions to their lives engendered by the conflict with al-Sadr.

Heck, Sistani (the leading Shia leader, one who insists on a proportional representative government to ensure Shias can dominate the political scene) even approved the nomination of a moderate Sunni to be the Interim President appointed to take over on 30 June until the first elections.

My point is that a more direct engagement with the insurgents might be cathartic and satisfying, but would result in little progress in the region. We need to:
1) Ensure a smooth transition to an Iraqi government that the Iraqis recognize and credible and legitimate
2) Train Iraqi police and military forces to provide security for themselves, with us only in an advisory role
3) Prevent any destabilization movement from gaining significant traction

We've made progress in each of those areas. While things are not as good as I had hoped they would be at this point, things are also far better than news media and left-leaning pundits have predicted before the war, immediately after the war, and even several times since then.

President Bush might not have the situation to the point you expect. Before you blame him for it, remember that things are far more stable and positive than our opponents hoped and work for.

It's a tug-of-war, and while we haven't dragged them into the mud yet, the ribbon on the rope is slowly moving in our direction.

Update: I did my typical "only sleep 3.5 hours and can't get back to sleep" starting at around 3 pm PST. So I conceived of this post in that half-hour after it became obvious I wasn't going to fall back into slumber, came over to the Computer building and posted. Then I went wandering, and found about 15 blogs that posted about the same sort of idea.

Brain Fertilizer: "Behind the Power Curve, and There to Stay"

Posted by Nathan at 07:38 PM | Comments (0)
» blogoSFERICS links with: 'No Battle Plan Survives First Contact With the Enemy'
» resurrectionsong links with: What I'm Reading While I'm Not Writin'
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