A remarkable article by a 'Time' correspondent, Michael Ware; hat tip to the Australian Lowy Institute's blog The Interpreter; part of their debate on Iraq on the tenth anniversary of the invasion.

He opens asking:
...the largest war and the one most targeted against Coalition troops, the Sunni insurgency. What if that had never come to pass? What if we missed means to better, exponentially better, exploit our military supremacy? Not just once. Or twice. But incessantly, for something like four years......The chance to avoid it was offered to us, plainly and clearly, and we failed to act upon it. Then failed again and again each time that chance was presented anew. Four long bloody years in which perhaps so very many people did not have to die; not those we knew, nor the multitude we didn't.

Iraq for many is well over the horizon, except to JWing's posts, but history alone merits reading this. On SWC we have often referred to the Anbar Rising and the Surge for examples, I don't recall a discussion on the situation beforehand.

I have never seen this US Army officer's role mentioned:
If there is a quiet, unsung American hero to this story, then it is a Green Beret colonel posted in the war's early years to Baghdad. Then-Lt Col Rick Welch, now a full-bird colonel, was a reservist and small town district attorney from Morgan County, Ohio. His work in Iraq, I have absolutely no doubt, was a vital strand of the ultimate DNA of America's military successes.

Alone, with goodness-only-knows what kind of leash from his command to do what he was doing, Col Welch was engaging with many of the same factions and currents of the guerrilla movements as I was. And, as I can testify, he came to be held in nothing but the highest regard by the insurgent leadership as an indefatigably honest broker. But the colonel, I suspect, would at first have been a lone voice in an American analytical wilderness at that point of the war.