Excerpts of an e-mail from my pal, Lt. Col Mark, in Baghdad:
The war is going better. Don’t let the news media convince you that we are losing. The new strategy will take a while to be successful. There are some favorable signs now but they are still superficial. The enemy is definitely pushing back and trying to make it look as if we cannot control the city or this country. However they are increasingly attacking soft targets. Their attacks on the Coalition are down and they cannot stop the increase US force in Baghdad and the expansion in the Iraqi military. The sectarian murder rate is already down and while attacks are up the effectiveness is down. The terrorists are getting some spectacular attacks but again they are hitting the softest of targets and as of now are trying to incorporate chlorine gas canisters into their explosions. We are increasingly finding the IEDs and the weapons caches. Remember that we are just beginning the process and we still have only 50% of the troop increase. This is not an operation that gives instant gratification or quick results it will take time. We must have that time for success.I hear that this war has lasted longer then WWII but if you consider the after effects of WWII and the operations that occurred after the fighting in WWII we were engaged in Europe and Japan for another 10 years as occupiers and re-builders and then for another 30 years as defenders of the new democracies in both those areas. The cost was untold billions of dollars and thousands of lives. Yet we persevered and with a lot less to lose if we had just left Japan and Germany to their fates without our continued sacrifice. And just what would we lose now if we just pulled out of Iraq. I could write a book about that, but the short explanation is we lose our prestige in the middle east and probably in other parts of the world. We lose our entire position in the middle east. Iran gains the upper hand and becomes the regional power that they cannot be if we are successful in Iraq. But most of all we open ourselves to further terrorist attacks in the US as the terrorists become embolden by their success in Iraq. Do not be deceived if we depart leaving Iraq in turmoil or with terrorism intact they will spin that in to a great victory over the “Great Satan” and that will swell their ranks and their war chests and they will come after us in the US. Any plan that puts a time limit on our withdrawal as opposed to placing an end-state condition is a defeat. We will go home in defeat and we will then be fighting the war at home. We cannot afford to lose here.This is where the war is and where we are fighting, lets finish it here.