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The “Joint Campaign Plan” And The Defeat Of Retreat

Tuesday, July 24, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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From my interview with Victor Davis Hanson yesterday:

[W]e know what happened to the French in 1962, what happened to the Algerians who supported the French. 170,000 of them were butchered within six months. We know what happened in Vietnam, even though Senator Kerry the other day played down those effects, when a million and a half boat people, 500 hundred thousand sent to the reeducation camps, probably 200,000 executed, the Cambodian holocaust. And remember, it was 18 years later when George Bush finally said that Vietnam was laid to rest. So if you’re an al Qaeda person, a terrorist, and the United States flees at the rate that many of the Democratic Senators want, why would you stop in Iraq? Why not go to Kurdistan and Kuwait, and Qatar, and finish the job of getting Americans out? Because once an army is beaten, it rarely is able to make a rear guard stand. It’s a psychological devastation to the entire army group. This country, by the way, Hugh, we have never done this, an entire army group fled in the face of a battle. We’ve never done it. We lost the Philippines in 1942. Over five years, we withdrew from Vietnam. But those horrific images of the Saigon Embassy and the helicopters landing, those were to evacuate diplomatic personnel and friends of the United States. We hadn’t had combat troops for two years in Vietnam. This is something entirely new in our experience, what the Democratic Senators are calling for, a wholesale abandonment of the battle space of a magnitude of an entire U.S. army group, something new in our experience, and we should be really careful before we undertake it.

Professor Hanson also remarked on Barack Obama’s “I’ve got my meeting planner open” moment:

What he’s really saying to the people who have been slaughtered by the Assad government in Syria and the dissidents, we don’t care about you. He’s telling the people of Lebanon who suffer serial assassination when they try to stand up for democracy, we don’t care about real politick at all. He’s telling the people of Irsrael…I mean, go talk with somebody who promised that you’re a one-bomb state and we’re going to wipe you off the map? He’s telling the Democratic dissidents in Venezuela…this is a man of the left, and what he’s basically doing is willing to talk with dictators and autocrats who are being opposed by people on the left, on the Democratic liberal side, supposedly, in these countries. It’s very strange that George Bush is talking about freedom and individual rights, and people in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party are sounding like old-fashioned, real politick, cynical people who say just accept the world the way it is, and most convenient for us is what we want, and don’t try to ask for something better.

I also interviewed Max Boot yesterday, who remarked on how the beginning of a retreat would signal not the beginning of an era of negotiated settlement, but of a period of chaos:

I think we are making gains on the ground with the surge of troops, this surge of operations which General Petraeus is directing. But as you know, there are a lot of people back home who want to bring those troops home, and they think that we can bring those troops home while still negotiating some kind of acceptable diplomatic or political settlement. And it just isn’t so, and I think we have a chance to negotiate some kind of decent settlement down the road if we stay with the surge, and if the troops in Iraq are able to improve the security situation on the ground. If that happens, then yes, we might be able to pull an acceptable outcome out of the war. But if we suddenly start bringing our troops home, everything’s going to go to hell in a hand basket, and no amount of brilliant diplomacy is going to be able to rescue it.

The Boot and Hanson interviews make it perfectly clear that the consequences of retreat in Iraq are perfectly clear. The genocide and the export of terror that followed such a cut and run would be catastrophic, and wholly the legacy of a Democratic Congress.

The good news is that the American public is beginning to hear and see that the surge is working, and public opinion is turning against the Democratic defeat merchants. The anti-war fringe’s attack on General Petraeus last week was just one of the many glimpses the American people have had at the real nature of the opposition to the war, and the average American sees, the less they like. Not surprisingly, the more they see of success in Iraq, the more they are supporting the surge.

The report in the New York Times of the new Petraeus plan –the “Joint Campaign Plan”–which sees American troops in Iraq through at least the summer of 2009 has got to be a blow to al Qaeda and the Shia radicals as that means another two years of the sort of punishment that General Petraeus referenced in the interview with him I conducted last week. The leaking of a plan to stay and kill terrorists for at least another 24 months is the first message that the terrorists have received in a long time that their strategy isn’t working. Suddenly they find themselves against an American military that isn’t retreating but which is pursuing them across every corner of the map, and with extraordinary lethality.

It is of course far too early to declare the surge successful or the Democrats’ demand for defeat itself defeated, but it is way past time to begin to note the good news out of Iraq and to demand the MSM do so as well. The Victory Caucus collects all the stories about the war that the curious citizen needs, and the military is connecting with new media and delivering the facts via new platforms which is also helping the public get a complete picture of the successes and the stakes in Iraq.

UPDATE: I just received an e-mail from my friend, Colonel Marc, who returned to the Green Zone after a two week vacation in June and July. Marc came out of retirement and volunteered to go to the battle, and the Army obliged him late last year. Here’s the key excerpt:

Life here is still a dull routine broken by some momentary excitement. I had the opportunity to make the run across town last week in one of the Gun Trucks always a different exprerience. We had another Hail and Farewell party at the Rec center. We were however interupted when a firefight started up over the wall. When it died down the younger troops resumed their vollyball game in 100 degree heat. I resumed drinking my cold fake beer and smoking another cigar. I had some great cigar time smoking with many of the people on the cruise. We also had some great political discussions. Today I was again visited by one of my students. It never ceases to amaze how he has growen and taken the great responsibility of defending his country. He will now be here for 15 months and takes that news as if he was told he has to go to summer school, just another routine thing he has to do. All the soldiers here are taking the news of the tour length without any problems. These are truly the best youth the US has produced. It does restore my faith in our youth to see and talk to them. They are all great.

Now some words about how things are going over here. The surge operations are beginning to show some results. Al Qaeda is being pressed and forced out of its safe havans. We are denying it areas to operate from and they are moving further out into the countryside. We are pursuing them and destroying them. Slowly the Iraqi people are realizing that they have less to fear form the Coalition then from Al Qaeda and the other insurgent groups. The people are increasingly cooperating with both Iraqi Army and Coalition Military units at great risk to themselves. While the Government of Iraq (GOI) is still having problems they and our leadership are recognizing the power of the local sheikhs and tribal leaders and are increasing working with them to counter the influence of the insurgents. This angle is working and that is one of the reasons that we have been successful in Anbar Province. We have driven out most of AL Qaeda and pacified the area. We are taking and holding territory. Our casulities are not up significantly even with an increase in insurgent activity. I am sure you have heard about some of their high casulity attacks. However they are not high value targets. Unfortunatelly it is easy to send a suicide bomber into a market place and create a news headline. There are many soft targets around the world including in the US. But what other value is the attack but for a headline, which our news media never fails to give them. However does our media broadcast the success of the young troops in gaining the cooperation of the Iraqi people. That story rarely gets out. The surge is working slowly but building a peaceful nation out of a secterian land which had been oppressed and torn by war for decades is not an easy short term action. It takes time.
What about our ability to be successful? Well sometimes I wonder, and I have some understanding of where we are and of where this region has been. Iraq was never a nation until the 1920s. It was part of a larger province of the Ottoman Empire. The area had been occupied by Arabs and Persians for centuries. They have fought over the region and finally given some unity under Islam and the Ottoman Caliphate. However another fracture occures in the area of Iraq. The schism of Islam occurred here and the area has also been fought over for control by the Sunnis and Shiia for almost 14 centuries. When a strong man or Empire controls the region and the people, the religious fignting tends to fall off. However when there is not a controlling government then the secterian violence and warfare breaks out. It has been that way for hunderds of years.Add into that mix the decision of the British after WWI to include the Kurds into the new nation of Iraq and you create an extremely difficult country to unite. The nation or Iraq is fractured along many lines. Al Qaeda the Shiia militia and the Iranians are exploiting those fractures by attacking soft civilian targets like Mosques and markets and bridges, easy and spectacular. We counter by using those attacks as examples of how the insurgents are not interested in the Iraqi people or nation. We are making great inroads.
I still hear however about how we need to pull out of Iraq immediately and let the Iraqis do this themselves. Why. We started this, we did it for reasons that were valid, were in the interests of the US and led to furthering the war on terror. I know there are many of you that will debate those statements. However based upon my experience in the trips and years I have been out here, in what I have learned on this tour and what I know of terrorism, I believe what I have said. Many Iraqis have joined with us to help build their country, in spite of great obsticles to include Iran, Al Qaeda, and many secterian groups within the country who want their own region or country or just control. There is an elected Government one that is struggling to unite its people and provide legitimate rule. While it is not perfect, has some secterian elements and corrupt officials, it is still trying to govern fairly and pacify the country. Hell, our country has power hungry polititians who dont care a wit about you and me and some who are even corrupt, however are we going to pull out of the US. Not even Alex Baldwin left. Nothing is perfect. And if we pull out now wnat happens. the GOI has stated that it needs us and is not ready to provide security yet. They have not given up but they need more time. For us to leave means that Iraq decends into chaos. The Insurgents, Iran and Al Qaeda will gain the upper hand and over throw the Government. Once Al Qaeda has shown that we are weak and retreating they will settle on gaining a piece of Sunni Iraq to develop their training areas. They will work with other extremist groups to further destablize the region and eventually attack us in our homeland. Iran will gain overwhelming influence in the Shiia areas primarily through the Imams and the Mosques. They will have a hard time but with our retreat we lose influence in the region and Iran fills the vacuume. Iran gains power and influence over Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the Gulf states. We will not be here to counter that move. Israel is on the defensive and increasingly threatened by hostile neighbors. The entire middle east is destablized and terrorism has a free hand in the region and will increasingly advance their agenda in this region and then to Europe and the US.
This is a grim course to take. We should not pull out of Iraq until we have succeeded. Now while I was on leave I had my doubts that the GOI could ever be successful in uniting and pacifying this land. However knowing the challenges and the possibility of failure we cannot just give up. We have to give this nation which we have set on this course at least a chance to succeed. If we leave we fail. We need to stay as long as the Iraqi army and the GOI are in the fight to make their country a free and united nation. While we are doing that we are attracting and killing the Al Qaeta terrorists here in Iraq and not at home. We must stay as long as the Iraqis are fignting for themselves. We cannot afford to abandon another ally and to suffer the huge set back that will occurr as did after Virtnam when we were known as a paper tiger and a nation that did not live up to its committments. We will become weak and disrespected in the community of nations if we dont lead this large coalition of like minded nations in gaining a free and peaceful Iraq. And this time we have an enemy who will come after us at home unlike the Vietnamese.
I believe all I have written here so much that I came out of retirment, left a quiet home a great teaching job and a loving wife to go away, live alone sacrifice in a hot dusty place where I work 14 hours a day and do nothing else but work, oh and smoke cigars. We must stay long enough to give the GOI a chance to secure their country. Maybe three more years. The cost is little aganist the potiential future loss iF we cut and run. I dont want to have to come out of retirement to fight a war in my home country.

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