Friday, September 07, 2007
Michael recently posted the fourth and last of his "Ghosts of Anbar" series of dispatches, in which he describes, without hype, the day-to-day activity of the Marines' counterinsurgency campaign, and how it has made, and is making, a difference. He adds a personal note at the end, which I found so poignant that I had to publish an excerpt here. It doesn't get any more real than this:
No one can predict the future, but all who are in a position of authority vis a vis our policy about Iraq should realize that something truly seems to have changed on the ground and momentum forward is accelerating this change. It is possible that fighting will begin to wind down in most areas of the country, as the security gains of the past few months begin to produce more and more of the collateral political, economic and social gains that have been inhibited largely by terror and fear.
And should that occur, we’ll need to decide what our next step will be. If we put our foot on the gas in helping Iraq stand again, Iraq could actually become a strong and firm partner of the United States. But it is equally possible that all the gains made to date will unravel before the eyes of the world, if we point that foot instead toward the door of a premature exit.But regardless of US election cycles and news fatigue, the timing here will reflect the conditions on the ground. With a premature withdrawal it may only be months before the unraveling begins, but even with our continued presence, it will be years before Iraq can truly stand. It will be years before the Iraqi military is “done.” The Iraqi Army has made tremendous progress, but the task is immense. The commitment should not require all of the resources assembled there now for all of that time, but there is no way around the fact that years are required. If we want Iraq to succeed, we must stick it out. We are succeeding today in Iraq.
Thanks, Michael, for your superb work.