Well not the Western Front really but all has been pretty quiet in Baghdad lately. Mind numbingly quiet actually, which makes it quite the challenge to keep twenty paratroopers from going stir crazy, however it speaks of US success here. Last night I talked to my beautiful wife, she is taking an international relations course and they discussed Iraq. She complained that everyone in the class spouted off all sorts of ill informed opinions on Operation Iraqi Freedom. I realized that the American people, though entitled to their opinions, love to cling to their ill informed opinions. So I thought I’d post a slightly more informed opinion on our progress here. As a caveat before we begin, I nor anyone else with inside knowledge on this place do not believe America has a perfect track record here, nor do I believe everything that happens here is currently going just as it should. With that being said:
While Iraq remains a dangerous place that will have to make some major changes to catch up with the free world the dramatic decrease in violence over the past year speaks to the success of the counter insurgency doctrine implemented by GEN Petreaus. The Iraqi people still have a major struggle ahead of them but at least for the time being the struggle will be focused on things like rooting corruption out of their government, bringing basic services (sewage, water, electricity etc…) up to par and finding ways to get its economy revitalized. The US military can be proud of handling the insurgency in such a way so as to allow our government and the Iraqi government to seriously work on issues other than security.
While Iraq remains far from a perfect place, I don’t think too many people will be putting Baghdad on their vacation itineraries in the near future, it has made major strides. American soldiers here look forward to the day when we can return to the United States to a “mission accomplished, job well done.” However there will be many months and years until that will be possible. I would rate the largest problems remaining ahead of us as follows 1. Keeping the insurgency from rebounding, it is comparatively weak but there are those fringe elements who would like to see it recover and violence breeds violence. 2. Establishing economic well being, particularly raising the employment levels, so that all Iraqi people will take great interest in stability for the sake of prosperity. 3. Improving governance. Iraq’s government is young and comparatively weak. The Iraqi people need a strong government. It has some major issues which must be resolved before our mission here is at an end. When it is possible for US forces to return home from Iraq for good it is my fervent hope (as well as grave concern) that Iraq’s fledgling democratic government will be able to hold this nation together.