Whether you are for or against the occupation of Iraq, this editorial is well worth reading and carefully digesting.
The change goes far beyond the statistical decline in casualties or incidents of violence. A young Iraqi translator, wounded in battle and fearing death, asked an American commander to bury his heart in America. Iraqi special forces units took to the streets to track down terrorists who killed American soldiers. The U.S. military is the most respected institution in Iraq, and many Iraqi boys dream of becoming American soldiers. Yes, young Iraqi boys know about “GoArmy.com.”
As the outrages of Abu Ghraib faded in memory – and paled in comparison to al Qaeda’s brutalities – and our soldiers under the Petraeus strategy got off their big bases and out of their tanks and deeper into the neighborhoods, American values began to win the war.
One year of my life gone forever in that nation. My feelings about our “imperialism” are very mixed. I am proud of my service in Iraq although I do not pretend to know what the future holds for that nation. We are nearing a pivotal moment – the change of command here will affect the course of 26 million lives there. I’ve long held the opinion that it will take decades to ensure real changes in the Middle East. The changes will have to be generational. A complete withdrawal now would certainly be a mistake.
Should we “surge” some more? I leave it to you to decide. Michael Yon is certainly a subject matter expert. He knows the troops, he knows the political climate, he understands the Iraqis and he has spent more time on the ground and in the thick of things than almost any American I know. That doesn’t mean his conclusions are correct, but they should be carefully considered.