I think it’s too early to tell, but Robert Kagan is certain that the troop surge in Iraq is working. In an Op-Ed for the Washington Post
yesterday, he wrote:
Leading journalists have been reporting for some time that the war was hopeless, a fiasco that could not be salvaged by more troops and a new counterinsurgency strategy. The conventional wisdom in December held that sending more troops was politically impossible after the antiwar tenor of the midterm elections. It was practically impossible because the extra troops didn’t exist. Even if the troops did exist, they could not make a difference.
Four months later, the once insurmountable political opposition has been surmounted. The nonexistent troops are flowing into Iraq. And though it is still early and horrible acts of violence continue, there is substantial evidence that the new counterinsurgency strategy, backed by the infusion of new forces, is having a significant effect. . .
NBC’s Brian Williams recently reported a dramatic change in Ramadi since his previous visit. The city was safer; the airport more secure. The new American strategy of “getting out, decentralizing, going into the neighborhoods, grabbing a toehold, telling the enemy we’re here, start talking to the locals — that is having an obvious and palpable effect.” U.S. soldiers forged agreements with local religious leaders and pushed al-Qaeda back — a trend other observers have noted in some Sunni-dominated areas. The result, Williams said, is that “the war has changed.” . . .
It could not be comforting to Sadr or al-Qaeda to read in the New York Times that the United States plans to keep higher force levels in Iraq through at least the beginning of 2008. The only good news for them would be if the Bush administration in its infinite wisdom starts to talk again about drawing down forces.
No one is asking American journalists to start emphasizing the “good” news. All they have to do is report what is occurring, though it may conflict with their previous judgments. Some are still selling books based on the premise that the war is lost, end of story. But what if there is a new chapter in the story?
The United States must secure Baghdad if there is to be any hope of establishing a lasting peace in Iraq. If the U.S. and coalition forces fail to do this or pull out precipitously, there will be all-out civil war that will likely turn into a regional conflict. I am hoping and praying for security in Baghdad that will lead to a lasting peace.