Denial is a common trait of the Left. This is especially true when one considers the War in Iraq. By historical norms and the stated objectives, Iraq is a “win” for the United States, but is still an unstable nation whose control could fall into the wrong hands. The stakes are critical, not so much in the negative sense, as Iraq in the hands of a despot would be no different than conditions prior to the invasion and there are many nations just as bad as Saddam was. The positive aspects of a successful establishment of a democratic republic in Iraq, however, are quite significant and establish a significant foundation for future developments in other regional states.
Winnng a war takes more than simply accomplishing the initial objectives, and there is more than the military plane to consider, as well. But for this article, the military plane is the most appropriate starting point. And the military goals are clearly known:
- Remove Saddam Hussein from power, as well as the Baath Party
- Cut off supplies and support for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Iraq
- Prevent escape by key leaders of Al Qaeda to other countries hostile to the West
- Cut off communications between Al Qaeda cells and offices
- Defeat guerilla operations through fluid and adaptive tactics.
These goals have all been accomplished to at least half their ideal. The Baath Party, which once held Iraq in an iron grip, is completely removed from power or influence in Iraq. Saddam, of course, sits in a cell with no effective prospects to hope for an improvement. Al Qaeda has lost well over 95% of its leadership and more, more than 90% of its supplies; it is also noteworthy that those individuals disposed to join a terrorist group, are not inclined to join Al Qaeda. Its numbers have been in constant decline for more than eighteen months now. The one good thing about revealing the NSA’s phone monitoring program, is the psychological impact of terrorists discovering that they have no electronic means of trustworthy communications, which effective cuts the remaining lines of command and control over cells and action units; this makes planning more cumbersome and slows everything from reconnaissance through execution, while increasing the risk of local interdiction through nominal counteractions.
Most impressive, and least heralded in the media, have been the Coalition efforts to defeat the guerilla actions. The initial plan for Saddam was to combine conventional military action with unconventional guerilla fighting – to attack from everywhere and disappear into the population, a la the Viet Cong. The Americans, however, have hardly stood around doing nothing since Vietnam, and Saddam was a great fool to think that the average Iraqi would not eventually understand that his best chances for freedom and success lay with the Coalition instead of the terrorists. The conversion of the population was gradual, for a number of sensible reasons, but in the end has led to confidence not only that the Americans will keep their word, but that the new Iraqi government is a truly sovereign government, which means that there is hope for the time when Americans no longer call the shots. Yes, there are still spots where former Baath party members and supporters of Saddam struggle to retain the control they once enjoyed, and there are still pockets of resistance to the radical notion of civilian self-rule and universal suffrage. But these are on the decline, and have become isolated from each other. The very fact that the most common acts against the Iraqi government and Coalition forces are near-random bombings and sporadic acts against individuals, demonstrates that there is no comprehensive plan by the terrorists remaining – they have fallen back from a plan to disrupt Coalition operations and decay morale, to simply running for their lives.
The best comparison might be made to the IRA. Yeah, those guys. The good news is that the Irish, whether North or South, have had quite enough of the cruelty and barbarism of the IRA, and have come to regard the existing Irish government as legitimate, whether or not they are pleased with all of its actions. The IRA are worse than outcasts, they are obsolete. But the IRA still exists, stubbornly refusing to accept reality. And there is the caution for Iraq. If America abandons Iraq by pulling too many troops out, or too fast, then the terrorists will be allowed to survive in greater strength than is healthy for Iraq. This must not be allowed, for many reasons critical to everyone concerned.
The Left thinks that we may best support the troops by bringing them home. This, of course, is simplistic and fails to understand why an army exists in the first place. But the Left has been stunning in its ignorance of both History and the development of Military Doctrine. There will, to be blunt, be a garrison left in Iraq. The Left will howl at this, of course, but then these are the hypocrites who have not complained about the garrison we still maintain in Bosnia, which action never received specific Congressional approval like Iraq did, or even the bases we maintain in Germany and Japan. Of course, there could even be said to be a network of garrisons in the Southern United States, seeing as they date back to just after the Civil War. Would ‘bring them home’ include never again sending New Yorkers to train in North Carolina or Georgia or Texas? Hmmm.
In short then, we need to stay on course. The war is won, but as things stand the bad guys would love to try their luck again if they found a weaker defender in the Oval Office. Just something else to think about this fall.