The initial war in Iraq was fought brilliantly and showed the mite of America.
The aftermath of the initial war culminated in other nations taking the U.S. seriously, and they made bold actions to show that they weren't threats.
Steven S. Hayes of weeklystandard.com,"In the Drivers Seat," writes that "Syria's Bashar al-Assad, worried that he would be next, authorized his intelligence services to increase their assistance to the CIA. Libya's Muammar Qaddafi voluntarily gave up his own WMD programs, telling Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi that he did not want to be the next Saddam Hussein. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak hinted at more open elections, and there were municipal elections in Saudi Arabia."
Then things went wrong the next four years, and by April 2006 things could not have looked worse.
According to Weekly Standard (Feb. 4, 2008) "How Bush Decided on the Surge," Violence explodes wit a fury, unseen in Iraq in the nearly three years since American troops had deposed Saddam Hussein. Shia militias hadn't responded to earlier al Qaeda and Sunni provocations. But now they erupted in a killing spree. Shia death squads slaughtered thousands of Sunnis. Bagdad became a free fire zone. Iraq was on the verge of all-out civil war."
Public morale toward the war plummeted. Anti-war democrats and republicans were having a field day.
However, despite the skeptics even in his own party, and even among his own cabinet, Bush decided that "Failure was no option... I never thought I had to give up the goal of winning." Likewise, he was aware that nothing could possibly have broken the will of the military more than defeat in Iraq.
Likewise, Bush knew that a defeat in Iraq would a major boost for terrorist organizations around the world, and he did not want that. As you can see from my previous post hereand here.
Despite all the negative media slanted at Bush, and the low polls, he kept his head up and finally, after the 2006 defeats, met with his top aids and shifted policy in Iraq. Even while change was too late to save the lives of thousands of soldiers who died in the rebuilding of Iraq, and what some called a civil war, change was needed and change occurred in the name of The Surge and General David Petraeus.
He fired his trusted Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and hired a new guy named Robert Gates , and he listened to the ideas of David Petraeus among others. And, while many of the members even among his own political group insisted that this was not the course to go, he decided to listen to Petraeus who believed "the war could be won with more troops and a population protection, or counterinsurgency, strategy." Otherwise known as The Surge.
Petraeus had used this same strategy in another smaller region of Iraq earlier in the war, and believed the same strategy would work in Baghdad as well. Ultimately, Bush agreed that the best strategy presented to him with the best chance of working was The Surge. It was a last ditch effort to save his presidency.
Now, more than a year later, it is clear that the surge has worked. After the surge, the majority of Iraq is now safe for women and children to walk the streets, businesses have opened in areas that were only a year ago strong havens for insurgents. The economy in Iraq is booming. Schools have reopened. Iraqi soldiers have taken over much of the war effort and security of Iraq. Most important, killings in Iraq have decreased by 70% since the surge was ordered, according to military officials.
This report from Yahoonews shows that May, 2008, was the least deadliest month in Iraq since the fighting began in 2003. Some troops are now on their way home, more will go home in July, and then, the report states, there will be a 45 day grace period where conditions in Iraq will be evaluated before further troops are sent home.
The Iranian influence in Iraq has been also stymied, but still not completely. According to a recent CIA report, Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Saudi Arabia has been decimated to the point that it is a shell of its former self, and is on the run in the rest of the world. However we must still be vigilant, because we have let our guard down before thinking this group was beat, and they struck us when we were least expecting it.
All of this should be coupled with the fact that Iraq has had three successful elections whereby not only men but women were allowed to participate in the democratic process of voting for candidates they wanted to run their country. Iraq now has a democracy, and that means that over 28,221,181 Iraqi civilians are now free to enjoy their God-given freedoms.
One of Bush's goals from the onset was the hopes of creating a stable Democracy in Iraq, in the hopes that people of other totalitarian nations in that region would see how nice it is to live in freedom and want that for themselves. Not only that, but Bush was aware that there has been only one time in history that two democratic nations went to war against one another.
That's where we stand right now. Iraq is safer than it ever has been, and Iraqi soldiers are starting to take the forefront in defending their own democracy.
The questions we have to ask ourselves are these:
Are we, as a nation, willing to admit defeat and walk away from Iraq and hope to God the Iraqi's can defend themselves? Do we want to risk Iranians swooping down on Iraq and forming a Super Iran with a monopoly over the Oil Supply in the Middle East?
If this happened, how many Iraqi civilians would die then?
That aside, defeat in Iraq would be a major victory for al-Qaeda, who would once again be allowed to gain a strong foothold in Iraq, a foothold that was given a near fatal blow during the surge. Do we want to risk leaving Iraq, and risk losing a year-and-a-half years of progress against al-Qaeda?
In my humble opinion, I think that even anti-war democrats are aware of this. I think even Hilary is aware of this (I don't know about Obama, and that's why he scares me so much).
I think the anti-war members of Washington are only catering to the left base, and will never pull out of Iraq. Because they know the consequences on their legacies would be dire.
And, despite the polls, I don't think the American people want to lose in Iraq either. Most of them (except for 45% of democrats) are proud of their nation, and do not want the scar of another military defeat.
While Bush decided that "Stay the course" strategies needed to be changed, I think that democratic "cut and run" policies will be tanked soon enough as well.