Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Michael J. Totten on Iraq

Everyone in the know has a lot of respect for Totten. He and Michael Yon are the two best independent journalists who have worked this war. Read what he says in Commentary Magazine:

...America’s primary political objective must be the prevention of a coup d’etat by Iranian proxy militias and Al Qaeda’s terrorist army. What plausible outcome would justify future costs? Any outcome other than that one. The Gaza scenario is the worst case scenario because it all but guarantees another war will be fought in Iraq by American soldiers. What’s the strategy for preventing that outcome? The current one.

The new counterinsurgency strategy implemented by General David Petraeus is the only one that has ever worked in that country. It doesn’t need to be fixed, and it shouldn’t be modified. Levels of violence are at their lowest in years. Fallujah, Ramadi, Baqubah, and most parts in Baghdad were pacified last year. Much of Basra, Sadr City, and Mosul were pacified this year. Considerable political progress has been made toward reconciliation between the Sunni and Shia communities, in large part because both built trust with the other by turning against their own extremists.

The war in Iraq is beginning to look less like a war and more like a rough-around-the-edges peacekeeping mission. Prematurely removing peacekeepers from the fragile and still-volatile country would, in all likelihood, reignite the war that is finally winding down. If Iraq still looked like a quagmire, as it did two years ago, a tactical retreat might be the right call. Retreating now, though, would be gratuitous. Every military and political gain made since the surge was implemented last year would be undone. And for what?

What was once Iraq’s best-case scenario may no longer be possible. I don’t know, and neither does anyone else. The worst-case scenario, though, is all but impossible while American soldiers remain in Iraq--which is reason enough by itself for American soldiers to remain in Iraq.

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