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Saturday, September 18, 2004

Our troops will whip the terrorists in Iraq — if we don't lose our nerve back home

Captain's Quarters has a fabulous letter to America from an American Marine major writing from Baghdad.  Here's a choice bit:

The naysayers will point to the recent battles in Najaf and draw parallels between that and what happened in Fallujah in April. They aren’t even close. The bad guys did us a HUGE favor by gathering together in one place and trying to make a stand. It allowed us to focus on them and defeat them. Make no mistake, Al Sadr’s troops were thoroughly smashed. The estimated enemy killed in action is huge. Before the battles, the residents of the city were afraid to walk the streets. Al Sadr’s enforcers would seize people and bring them to his Islamic court where sentence was passed for religious or other violations. Long before the battles people were looking for their lost loved ones who had been taken to "court" and never seen again. Now Najafians can and do walk their streets in safety. Commerce has returned and the city is being rebuilt. Iraqi security forces and US troops are welcomed and smiled upon. That city was liberated again. It was not like Fallujah – [in Najaf,] the bad guys lost and are in hiding or dead.

But read the whole thing.  And smile along with me when you read the last line — what a global information society we live in now, eh?

Posted by Beldar at 07:58 AM in Global War on Terror | Permalink

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Comments

(1) GT made the following comment | Sep 18, 2004 9:58:58 AM | Permalink

Optimism will only take you so far. Sometimes you need to accept reality.

(2) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 18, 2004 10:05:22 AM | Permalink

GT, did you read the Major's letter? Or do you prefer to get your "reality" from CNN and the BBC?

(3) GT made the following comment | Sep 18, 2004 10:15:43 AM | Permalink

I did read it. And that's why I wrote what I did.

Forget about CNN or the BBC. This is not about them. This is about what's happening in Iraq.

Sadr still gets to preach on Fridays and still has a huge following. There are plenty of people willing to take the place of those we killed. This whole 'body count' approach made no sense in Vietnam and makes no sense today. Last year right wing bloggers were calculating that since there were only about 5,000 insurgents and we had calready killed several thousand the attacks would soon end. So much for that silliness.

The reality is much, much darker.

Read the CSIS report. Or the Chatham House report. Or what has come out of the latest NIE report.

I'm not ready to say the insurgents have already beaten us but it is getting close. The reason is simple. They now know that we will not destroy them, we will not go all out after them. They know they can't stand up to us in open battle but they also know, like any other insurgency, that they don't need to win. They just need to wait us out.

(4) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 18, 2004 10:41:58 AM | Permalink

GT, the "insurgents" — as you and Reuters call them; I prefer the more honest "terrorists," since "insurgents" conjures up images of the Minutemen, a la Michael Moore's characterization — have clearly already won their war over you.

The question is, can they win over enough other "GTs" to defeat the American and coalition military forces that have been kicking, and continue to kick their butts on a regular basis?

Yours, my friend, is the perfect example of what Victor Hanson Davis describes as the "see ya but wouldn't wanna be ya" mentality. You're wrong on history, you're wrong on the present — but to be consistent, you're supporting a candidate who's equally wrong along with you.

(5) Todd made the following comment | Sep 18, 2004 10:43:02 AM | Permalink


Considering GT's track record, most recently when he pronounced the Rathergate documents genuine and said the controversy would die down about a week ago, his comments suggest that the U.S. is on the verge of a smashing victory in Iraq. Keep up the good work, my friend. Please continue to predict a Kerry victory as well. That should help him continue to slide in the polls.

(6) J_Crater made the following comment | Sep 18, 2004 11:01:07 AM | Permalink

When an intelligence report says "the best case for Iraq was ‘tenuous stability’ and the worst case was civil war," I have to say at least they ruled out all out anarchy. After listening to each MSM report, I always seem to have to apply the fact that there are 25 million people in Iraq and we're seeing what, about a few hundred or thousand. Even if it's 25,000 that only 1/1000 or 0.01%; which seems to support the ‘tenuous stability’ scenario.

(7) GT made the following comment | Sep 18, 2004 11:04:55 AM | Permalink

Beldar, for the time being I don't get to set US policy in Iraq. Other than voting I am a passive observer, like you.

You can call them what you want, that's hardly the issue.

The reality is that the rebels now control most of Western Iraq, including whole cities like Fallujah and Ramadi. They don't control Baghdad but they operate freely there, kidnapping foreigners in broad daylight, killing anyone who works with us, forcing US troops to travel only in convoys and live the rest of the time behind fortified walls. And now we are told the US can't even guarantee the security in the Green Zone.

Last April marines attacked Fallujah and, instead of finishing the job, we left and created the Fallujah Brigade, which promplty feel in the hands of the rebels. Now we appear to be doing similar nonsense in Sammar where we installed a new mayor and agreed to drop our right to search private homes. So we will send troops in convoys through the city and 5 minutes after we leave the rebels can go out and continue their work.

The number and sophistication of the attacks is on the rise. A local US commander has estimated hard core rebels at around 120,000. US and other casualties continue to mount and there is no evidence we have weakened the rebels.

And all this is just for the Sunni rebels.

Sadr is a different story. As Juan Cole has pointed out Sadr has made clear what he wants and he does not need to acomplish that with bullets, he is hugely popular among the poorer Shiites and can get a lot of what he seeks through the ballot box. The people in Najaf don't like Sadr but that's a middle class town of merchants. Sadr's base is in the 2.5 million living in Sadr City. That's about 10% of the Iraqi population right there.

That's why support for the war, which was about 80% last year is now in the 40s. This is Bush's war and Bush's mess.

(8) ch made the following comment | Sep 18, 2004 12:44:37 PM | Permalink

GT:

As you said, optimism only goes so far. As you did not say, pessimism often goes farther, and becomes self-fulfilling prophecy: we cannot win, so we had best quit and go home.

It is not Bush's war. The people of the United States and the people of Iraq all own a piece of it now, because our fate is tied to its outcome. Cataloging the current problems is a good place to start, but a bad place to end. The critical question is this: what are we going to do about it? Your answer, dress it up however you will, is to quit.

(9) GT made the following comment | Sep 18, 2004 1:11:55 PM | Permalink

My answer?

Sorry, I don't set policy. Bush does.

(10) Todd made the following comment | Sep 18, 2004 1:13:10 PM | Permalink


I don't see any reason for great optimism in Iraq, nor great pessimism. As Bush stated shortly after 9/11, the war on terror is going to last a long, long time.

One thing that I may have missed commentary on is the fact that the war in Iraq is drawing a lot of al-Queda and others into Iraq, where allied forces can kill them, rather than making those forces chase them all over the globe.

(11) Thomas J. Jackson made the following comment | Sep 18, 2004 8:49:02 PM | Permalink

I am amazed by the ignorance of people like GT. I spent two years in Iraq and am quite pleased Saddam is imprisoned as would be anyone with first hand knowledge of his regime.

GT asserts Western Iraq is controlled by the rebels. This could well be true, which is the equivalent of stating they control two thirds of the Sahara desert. There is nothing but sand dunes in Western Iraq suitable for nuclear bomb testing. The cities the rebels "control" are such because the US has refrained from taking them or reducing them. This is a major mistake. I note the attacks are so effective that total casualities in Iraq are slightly above 1,000 from all causes since the start of the war. Care to hazard a guess for the number of dead on D-Day, Tarawa, or Antietam?

Such inability to access casualities only betrays a gross ignorance of history and a temperment not given to analytic approach when weighing security problems. In fact from the comments posted one can assume this armchair strategist gleans most of his knowledge from watching reruns of Combat and reading MoveOn talking points. Sad to see such gross ignorance paraded about so publically. One can only conclude this man must be an ambassador for State Department.

(12) Zachriel made the following comment | Sep 19, 2004 1:51:16 PM | Permalink

Digging through a lengthy ad hominem attack on GT, I did find this ironic statement.

Thomas J. Jackson: "The cities the rebels 'control' are such because the US has refrained from taking them or reducing them."

I don't think the irony of this statement requires an extended explanation, but I do have a question. Is "reducing" equivalent to razing?

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