An Historical Iraq Transformation

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - April 23, 2008
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“We’re floundering in a quagmire in Iraq. Our strategy is flawed, and it’s too late to change it. Our resources have been squandered, our best people killed, we’re hated by the natives and our reputation around the world is circling the drain. We must withdraw.”

Who said that, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi? Congressman John Murtha?

None of the above. The recorded statement came from none other than Osama bin Laden, most likely from a dank cave somewhere in Waziristan.

As I have said in this column before, whether or not luring al Qaeda into direct combat was part of our original strategy for invading Iraq, AQ chose to make it so. As Canadian columnist David Warren said, “If going into Iraq was a mistake for the U.S., it was an absolute blunder for AQ.”

AQ’s popularity has plummeted not only in Iraq, but also in much of the Muslim world because almost all of its attacks have killed mostly Muslim civilians. Last August alone - as the “surge” was first taking effect - 45 AQ leaders were killed or captured, and many of the rest were on the run in the northeastern mountains of Iraq. Just a month ago, AQ released a video supposedly commemorating the fifth anniversary of America’s entry into Iraq, without so much as alluding to an AQ victory. But, of course, America’s mainstream media seldom reports this kind of news. In the first 10 weeks of 2008, when reporters were reluctant to go into the field with U.S. and Iraqi troops because it was “so boring” and “there was not much to report on,” only 3 percent of TV and print news was about Iraq, while the average for all of 2007 was 23 percent.

A combined report last November by Al Jazeera, Defenselink and Investors Business Daily noted the following: “Overall violence in Iraq down 50 percent. In Baghdad, down 75 percent. In Basra, down 90 percent. Terrorist attacks down 80 percent. Civilian casualties down 60 percent. After nearly 100,000 Iraqi civilian casualties (mostly from AQ suicide bombers), a recent ABC/BBC poll found 55 percent of Iraqis polled still felt “their lives were going well,” up from 39 percent last August.

George Friedman, president of Stratfor, a Republican private intelligence service, noted on U.S. Middle East strategy: “The United States needed to change the psychology of the Middle East. Iraq is the most strategic country there, bordering on seven other key countries. The long-term terrorist threat will last forever if the Arab World remains so dysfunctional.”

UPI editor and Middle East expert Martin Walker picks up on Friedman’s theme: “The deepest purpose of the Iraq war was to break that pattern, to kick-start reform and political change, economic and cultural modernization, and maybe even to plant the first shoots of democracy in the Arab World.” Walker concludes: “The cost has been higher than necessary, but with the soundness of the Petreaus strategy, a historically transformational victory is nigh.”

“The cost has been higher than necessary” - certainly that is true, especially in terms of human lives. But in asymmetrical war against fanatical Islamic terrorists who have pledged their lives to our destruction, where IEDs, remotely controlled bombs and suicide bombers - including women and children - are the primary weapons, casualties are inevitable. Yes, we try to minimize them and we mourn and honor every death, but Americans must realize that victory or defeat cannot be measured in terms of casualties. If that were the case, World War II would have been a huge defeat. Our 4,000-plus casualties after five years in Iraq are but a fraction of the losses on D-Day on the beaches of Normandy or in one day on Iwo Jima in the Pacific - perspective!

On the day after the 9/11/01 attacks, I wrote, “In this new war against terror that has been thrust upon us, it may be that victory can only be measured by the length of time between similar attacks in the future.” I stand by that, and by that criteria, we are winning.

We must not let those with a vested political interest in failure snatch defeat from the jaws of our “historically transformational” victory!

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