The War is Over, and We Won
Karl Zinsmeister, Editor-in-Chief of The American Enterprise, proclaims “The War is Over, and We Won.”
Your editor returned to Iraq in April and May of 2005 for another embedded period of reporting. I could immediately see improvements compared to my earlier extended tours during 2003 and 2004. The Iraqi security forces, for example, are vastly more competent, and in some cases quite inspiring. Baghdad is now choked with traffic. Cell phones have spread like wildfire. And satellite TV dishes sprout from even the most humble mud hovels in the countryside.
Many of the soldiers I spent time with during this spring had also been deployed during the initial invasion back in 2003. Almost universally they talked to me about how much change they could see in the country. They noted progress in the attitudes of the people, in the condition of important infrastructure, in security.
Contrary to the impression given by most newspaper headlines, the United States has won the day in Iraq. In 2004, our military fought fierce battles in Najaf, Fallujah, and Sadr City. Many thousands of terrorists were killed, with comparatively little collateral damage. As examples of the very hardest sorts of urban combat, these will go down in history as smashing U.S. victories.
And our successes at urban combat (which, scandalously, are mostly untold stories in the U.S.) made it crystal clear to both the terrorists and the millions of moderate Iraqis that the insurgents simply cannot win against todayÃ¢€™s U.S. Army and Marines. ThatÃ¢€™s why everyday citizens have surged into politics instead.
I’m sure these things are true. But does that mean that “we’ve won”? Even Zinsmeister admits that,
The terrorist struggle has hardly ended. Even a very small number of vicious men operating in secret will find opportunities to blow up outdoor markets and public buildings, assassinate prominent political figures, and knock down office towers. But public opinion is not on the insurgentsÃ¢€™ side, and the battle of Iraq is no longer one of war fightingÃ¢€”but of policing and politics.
As I noted a few days ago, defining victory in this war is difficult. Still, it’s rather hard to see how the status quo qualifies.
PowerLine’s Scott Johnson does seem to take the place at face value, however.