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Thread: Bing West article in WSJ

  1. #1
    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Jun 2008

    Default Bing West article in WSJ

    The war I witnessed for more than five years in Iraq is over. In July, there were five American fatalities in Iraq, the lowest since the war began in March 2003. In Mosul recently, I chatted with shopkeepers on the same corner where last January a Humvee was blown apart in front of me. In the Baghdad district of Ghazilia -- where last January snipers controlled streets awash in human waste -- I saw clean streets and soccer games. In Basra, the local British colonel was dining at a restaurant in the center of the bustling city.
    The threat in Iraq has changed from a full-scale insurgency into an antiterror campaign. Al Qaeda in Iraq is entrenched in northern Mosul, where it may take 18 months to completely defeat them. By employing what he calls his "Anaconda Strategy," Gen. David Petraeus is squeezing the life out of al Qaeda in Iraq. The mafia-style militia of Sadr has been splintered.
    The Iraqis aren't yet confident enough to stand entirely on their own; al Qaeda's savagery still imposes too much fear, while Iran is training terrorists next door. In counterinsurgency, the people must know they are protected. Gen. Petraeus has proven that intimidation can be defeated by placing American soldiers among the population. Wars are won by confidence, but also by procedures that take time to mature; and the Iraqi offensive against Sadr's militia in Basra last April revealed an atrocious Iraqi command and control system.
    The problem is not American force levels in Iraq. It is divisiveness at home. While our military has adapted, our society has disconnected from its martial values. I was standing beside an Iraqi colonel one day in war-torn Fallujah when a tough Marine patrol walked by. "You Americans," he said, "are the strongest tribe."

    But we cast aspersions on ourselves. The success of our military should not be begrudged to gain transitory political advantage.

    In 1991, our nation held a parade after our military liberated Kuwait. Over the course of more than five hard years, our troops have brought stability and freedom to 25 million Iraqis, while crushing al Qaeda in Iraq. Regardless of disagreement about initiating the war back in 2003, Americans should unite to applaud the success of our troops in 2008.

    A stable Iraq keeps faith with the million American soldiers who fought there, sets back Iran's aggression, and makes our enemies in Afghanistan and elsewhere fear us. It's time we stopped debating about yesterday and displayed national pride in our soldiers.
    Complete article here:
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

  2. #2
    Council Member Jayhawker's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    where they tell me

    Default What's next?

    Good question and good argument by West. Unfortunately, the first thing I thought of was, "well now we can send Brigade Combat Teams to Georgia." But of course there is plenty of work to do in Afghanistan, Afghan-Pak border, etc, so no shortage of operational locations....

    What's next for Iraq? That's up to them. Just as it has been all along.

  3. #3
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    May 2008


    Modern-society warrior ethos is a quite close relative to patriotism.
    To promote the one might exaggerate the second.

    It's proably a good idea to focus on civilian affairs in the next years and to fix the civilian problems that haven't been fixed in the past 7 years.


    Everytime when I read about that the troops deserve better (payment, medical care, respect, gratitude... ) I think 'yes'.

    But the very next second I get a strange feeling in the stomach and remember the ever-increasing pay or Roman legionaries, the high personnel costs today and the risk in substituting expensive manpower with expensive tools.

    I do usually conclude that it needs to be balanced carefully and the problem shouldn't be considered from a military point of view only.

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