Friday, June 22, 2007

General Petraeus: Fighting on two fronts, winning...and playing for time

Iraq has become a two front war, and on at least one front, there's major good news.

Something amazing is happening in Iraq, and it's almost unreported by the dinosaur media, except for the casualty reports.General David Petraeus and our military have finally begun to turn the tide on the ground with an all out offense against al-Qaeda in Iraq, entitled Operation Arrowhead Ripper.There are several other code names for different areas I won't bore you with.

For the first time in Iraq, we are on sustained offense, rather than simply playing defense or engaging in stop-n-start campaigns.

What's happening in Baquba, and in the belts around Baghdad with over 10,000 troops involved is extraordinary, as our warriors are taking it to the enemy under extreme conditions, on their home turf and in the midst of 125 degree heat, something that al-Qaeda probably never expected. What's more, our guys are killing jihadis, cutting them off and destroying them not only in Baquba, but in Fallujah, Salman Pak, Eastern Anbar, in the Sunni areas on the outskirts of Baghdad and all through Diyala.

General Petraeus developed - and so far, has been incredibly successful - in a planned, methodical campaign that involved not just playing defense and reacting, but actually taking the fight to the enemy. Part of that success involved using the Shiite militias in Baghdad and its environs to help provide security and using the Sunni tribes' in places like Anbar to obtain allies on the ground, something that's working well so far but might end up causing major problems further on down the road. The Shiite dominated government in Baghdad is already bellyaching about the US arming and working with Sunnis in Anbar and Northern Iraq.

What Petraeus is doing, essentially is implementing his own `oil-spread' theory of counter-insurgency to the extent that he can...and so far, he's been more successful than we had any right to expect after four years of lost opportunities and mismanagement.

That's the good news.Here's the other side of the coin.

It remains to be seen whether we actually have enough troops on the ground to finish the job at hand. The Iraqi forces we've spent so much time and money training are inconsistant and riven by sectarian strife, and there are limits as to how effectively they can be used....or trusted. And Iraq's politicians,frankly, continue to impede our efforts for their own political benefit. For the most part, they seem more concerned with intercine squabbling, political leverage and lining their own pockets than they do with actually doing what needs to be done to support our efforts.It remains to be seen whether this will change.

And finally, Iran is still impeding our efforts and supplying arms to our enemies whenever they can, and Moqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army are still very much in business and being protected by the Maliki government.

We should have gotten rid of Mookie a long time ago, and we will regret that we didn't in the future.

As you know,I'm no fan of the corrupt,Iran-friendly Shiite dominated Islamic republic we're propping up.And most of you know my feelings about how we got into this war and why things have gone so wrong since. But the way things are working now, General Petraeus' strategy might end up delivering a decisive defeat to al-Qaeda on the ground and allow the Iraqi government to solidify, stabilize, and perhaps even be more cooperative and US-friendly. A show of strength has a way of doing that in this part of the world.

This becomes particularly true if the Bush Administration finally does something decisive about Iran, which would in turn curtail the power of al-Sadr and the Shiite militias. That might be a reality sooner than we think, and would change the whole ballgame.

It took President Lincoln three years to find General Grant and develop a winnng strategy during the Civil War, after years of failed strategy, poor leadership and costly defeats.

The second front, of course is where General Petraeus is in the most trouble. That second front is the home front, especially in Washington.

The consistently negative reporting in the dinosaur media and political posturing in Washington by the likes of politicians like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have done incredible damage and literally impeded what our troops and their commander are attempting to achieve in Iraq. Lacking the courage to take the political fallout for engineering an American military defeat by simply refusing to fund the war, the Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate have instead opted for the `death of a thousand cuts' approach, a shameful attempt to undercut the same general they voted to confirm in command.

Both Reid and Pelosi have already dubbed Petraeus strategy a `failure' before it's even fully implemented, and Reid in particular has bragged that he intends to `hold the President's feet to the fire' with multiple votes and congressional attempts to impede the war effort at every turn.They are setting things up for failure.

Most of these people appear to have no conception of the consequences that would ensue if they're successful, what it would do to the morale of our military or the long term implications in this war we're engaged in that they continue to be in denial about.

It's beyond despicable, frankly, making political capital out of the sacrifice of far braver men and women under fire with no regard for our Republic's best interests, and it continues to astonish me. Whatever one might think about President Bush, there is simply no way to justify it.

The latest nonsense, insisting on success or failure by September is just a sophisticated way for the anti-war Democrats to get around President Bush's veto and stick a deadline into the mix for retreat and defeat.And they appear to be willing to do whatever they can to ensure that we don't meet that arbitrary deadline.

None of this is lost on our enemies.

General Petraeus needs the time - and frankly, he's earned it - to see if he's able to turn things around. An assessment of how well things are working should be based on realistic expectations and progress made...not an artificial timetable set up strictly for a political agenda.

We've had four years of mismanagement and waste motion in Iraq, but at last it seems that we have a strategy and a commander with at least a fighting chance to turn things around. Like it or not, a retreat from al-Qaeda under these circumstances, in the midst of battle, will have untold repercussions.

At this point, General Petraeus has done more with less, and so far he's had significant success. It remains to be seen whether the Iraqis will start shouldering their responsibilities, and whether Petraeus is able to expand on what he's already done. A little more time will tell.

Nothing's certain in war, but it looks like there's reason for some cautious optimism at the moment...if our domestic politicians don't pull the rug out from under our troops prematurely and hand our enemies a victory they won on the home front, not the battlefield.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of when Creighton abrams replaced Westmoreland in Vietnam in 1968. More progress was made under Creighton with fewer casualties because of a better strategy, but by then it was too late because of the troop withdrawals.

I wonder if we are repeating history.