December 27, 2007

Trends...

Michael Yon has posted another part of his Ghosts of Anbar series: Part III of IV, A Model for Success...As always, he is worth reading (and supporting, if you happen to have any extra shekels)...

...Now I started to understand why the Army officers had been telling me the Marines are more advanced in counterinsurgency. Normal Marines have morphed into doing vintage Special Forces work. Many of our Army units are excellent at this work, but the Marines, at least these particular Marines, did seem to have an edge for it.They were even studying Arabic in their filthy little compound. Lightweight study, but they were showing the Iraqis they were making the effort. The Iraqis appreciated it. I have yet to see an Army unit undertake such a clear effort to learn Arabic...

...Iraqis in every province I have traveled all respond to strong leadership. It’s a cultural touchstone. A man like SSG Rakene Lee is not someone they would overlook. Physically, the man is amazingly strong. But what is most amazing is the strength of his moral fiber. Whatever the man talked, he walked. After all of al Qaeda’s false promises, the people here have learned a hard lesson about the true value of character...

...Over the next several days, I saw how much the Iraqis respected Rakene Lee and the other Marines who were all courageous, tactically competent, measured, and collectively and constantly telling even the Iraqis to go easy on the Iraqis. It’s people like Rakene Lee who are winning the moral high ground in Iraq. It is people like this who are devastating al Qaeda just by being themselves. Over those same several days, I would also see the Iraqi Lieutenant Hamid treat prisoners with respect and going out of his way to treat other Iraqis the way he saw Americans treating them. Lieutenant Hamid, in his young twenties, seemed to watch every move of the Marines and try to emulate them...

Naturally I'm thinking today about Pakistan, a nation of 160 million people, + nukes, that just may be sliding into Islamist madness. How little there is we can do, directly, to influence Pakistan. How clumsy our tools are.

It makes me think once again that the invasion of Iraq was the best move we have made in the War on Terror. Why? Because we are sowing the seeds of change in the very heart of the Muslim world. Change in the direction of freedom, democracy and economic growth. Of course it is a risky and difficult operation. Big ambitious moves always are. But with a bit of luck we are starting another trend in the Middle East, one that will compete with the trend towards jihadism.

All the world's nihilists and America-haters leapt at the chance to declare Iraq an failure and a catastrophe. But that was always a pretty stupid idea. The "insurgency" could probably have been stopped at any time if the Iraqi government decided to go in for some serious slaughter. In fact that is sort of what happened, since the brutality of the Shia militias probably had a lot to do with the Sunni getting realistic about their chances of success as rebels. And it was pretty clear early on that the mass of ordinary Iraqis were not keen on al Qaeda's terrorism, and were going to be even less keen after a couple of years of murder.

Posted by John Weidner at December 27, 2007 7:52 PM
Weblog by John Weidner