Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Truth On the Ground

Ben Connable wrote in WaPO When I told people that I was getting ready to head back to Iraq for my third tour, the usual response was a frown, a somber head shake and even the occasional "I'm sorry." When I told them that I was glad to be going back, the response was awkward disbelief, a fake smile and a change of subject. The common wisdom seems to be that Iraq is an unwinnable war and a quagmire and that the only thing left to decide is how quickly we withdraw.

That is because the MSM, who are in the pockets of the Democrats, have been trying so hard to spread that false impression, because they know the Dems need for the Iraq war to be a failure if they have any hope of ever getting back in power.
Depending on which poll you believe, about 60 percent of Americans think it's time to pull out of Iraq. How is it, then, that 64 percent of U.S. military officers think we will succeed if we are allowed to continue our work?
Because you've "Been there, done that, have the T-Shirt to prove it.
Why is there such a dramatic divergence between American public opinion and the upbeat assessment of the men and women doing the fighting? Open optimism, whether or not it is warranted, is a necessary trait in senior officers and officials. Skeptics can be excused for discounting glowing reports on Iraq from the upper echelons of power. But it is not a simple thing to ignore genuine optimism from mid-grade, junior and noncommissioned officers who have spent much of the past three years in Iraq.

We know the streets, the people and the insurgents far better than any armchair academic or talking head. As military professionals, we are trained to gauge the chances of success and failure, to calculate risk and reward. We have little to gain from our optimism and quite a bit to lose as we leave our families over and over again to face danger and deprivation for an increasingly unpopular cause. We know that there are no guarantees in war, and that we may well fail in the long run. We also know that if we follow our current plan we can, over time, leave behind a stable and unified country that might help to anchor a better future for the Middle East.

It is difficult for most Americans to rationalize this optimism in the face of the horrific images and depressing stories that have come to symbolize the war in Iraq. Most of the violent news is true; the death and destruction are very real. But experienced military officers know that the horror stories, however dramatic, do not represent the broader conditions there or the chances for future success. For every vividly portrayed suicide bombing, there are hundreds of thousands of people living quiet, if often uncertain, lives. For every depressing story of unrest and instability there is an untold story of potential and hope. The impression of Iraq as an unfathomable quagmire is false and dangerously misleading.

It is this false impression that has led us to a moment of national truth. The proponents of the quagmire vision argue that the very presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is the cause of the insurgency and that our withdrawal would give the Iraqis their only true chance for stability. Most military officers and NCOs with ground experience in Iraq know that this vision is patently false. Although the presence of U.S. forces certainly inflames sentiment and provides the insurgents with targets, the anti-coalition insurgency is mostly a symptom of the underlying conditions in Iraq. It may seem paradoxical, but only our presence can buffer the violence enough to allow for eventual stability.

The precipitous withdrawal of U.S. troops would almost certainly lead to a violent and destabilizing civil war. The Iraqi military is not ready to assume control and would not miraculously achieve competence in our absence. As we left, the insurgency would turn into internecine violence, and Iraq would collapse into a true failed state. The fires of the Iraqi civil war would spread, and terrorists would find a new safe haven from which to launch attacks against our homeland.

The Anchoress blogged I’d like to just interject here: my best pal’s pediatrician returned from Iraq serving, and she says she wishes she did not have to return, would not have returned were it not for her own children - “we’re doing incredible work there, and we need to keep at it - we’re helping,” is what she has told my friend, “and the Iraqi people are wonderful people who constantly say ‘thank you.’”

My dermatologist’s son is in Fallujah, has been for six months, and he just re-upped. While the reporters in the hotels and the reporters in NY skyscrapers and Democrats (excepting Joe Lieberman) tell you this thing is a disaster, the soldiers in Iraq are re-enlisting in record numbers, and new recruiting keep coming. Why? Because for people who are not blinded by ideology, or deranged by Bush-hatred - they are seeing the vision, and they understand how near we are to victory, and they comprehend that a Democratic Iraq will inspire a Democratic Middle East - something no one ever dared dream about, before, something no one tried to establish in the last 35 violent and terrible years, and they want to be a part of it. Despite all of the naysaying, the non-stop defeatism and the propaganda against the war by our own elected officials and our own press, they see it.

BlackFive blogged I am starting to wonder about the Washington Post, every time I smack them down recently, they pop up with some responsible journalism. Obviously they can't be called fair and balanced, who can? But they have kept on showing signs that they and the rest of the media/left alliance realize they have failed to lose the war through bias. Now they must show that they are a "credible" source for information, and they took another step in the right direction today with a column on the Op-Ed page from USMC Maj. Ben Connable.

BlogsForBush blogged We all know that when it comes to Iraq, the Democrats don't know what they're talking about... They just know that it benefits their party to be negative, negative, negative. Well, Marine Major Ben Connable, on the eve of returning to Iraq for a third tour, reveals the truth on the ground in an article in The Washington Post... He tells us that "The impression of Iraq as an unfathomable quagmire is false and dangerously misleading." Indeed, anyone who has followed our coverage of Iraq knows better than to call it a quagmire.

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