Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What's Really Happening in Iraq

Almost every day now, we wake up to newspaper reports of more violence in Iraq, and calls by Democrat politicians to “just get out”. These calls for an immediate withdrawal are amplified by articles and opinions in the mainstream media along the same lines. Clearly, especially at the New York Times, any failure that can be laid at the feet of the Bush administration is a good thing – no matter at what cost to the citizens and future citizens of this country. I thought it worth while, therefore, to publish excerpts from a talk given recently by our ambassador to Iraq. It certainly puts a different light on things and shows that, while the spoiled little brats are running around screaming, grownups are still in charge. Go to the Belmont Club link at the end if you wish to read the entire speech.


“I will give my bottom line up front. I believe Americans, while remaining tactically patient about Iraq, should be strategically optimistic. Most important, a major change - a tectonic shift - has taken place in the political orientation of the Sunni Arab community. A year ago, Sunni Arabs were outside of the political process and hostile to the United States. They boycotted the January 2005 election and were underrepresented in the transitional national assembly. Today, Sunni Arabs are full participants in the political process, with their representation in the national assembly now proportional to their share of the population. Also, they have largely come to see the United States as an honest broker in helping Iraq's communities come together around a process and a plan to stabilize the country.
Moreover, al Qaeda in Iraq has been significantly weakened during the past year. This resulted, not only from the recent killing of Zarqawi, but also from the capture or killing of a number of other senior leaders and the creation of an environment in which it is more difficult and dangerous for al Qaeda in Iraq.

These are fundamental and positive changes. Together, they have made possible the inauguration of Iraq's first ever government of national unity - with non-sectarian security ministers, agreements on rules for decision making on critical issues and on the structure of institutions of the executive branch, and a broadly agreed upon program. They have also enabled political progress that resulted in the recent announcement by Prime Minister Maliki of his government's National Reconciliation and Dialogue Project.

However, at the same time, the terrorists have adapted to this success by exploiting Iraq's sectarian fault line. A year ago, terrorism and the insurgency against the Coalition and the Iraqi security forces were the principal sources of instability. Particularly since the bombing of the Golden Mosque in February, violent sectarianism is now the main challenge. This sectarianism is the source of frequent tragedies on the streets of Baghdad. It is imperative for the new Iraqi government to make major progress in dealing with this challenge in the next six months. The Prime Minister understands this fact.

Today, I will discuss the status of these efforts, noting the achievements we have attained and the further steps we intend to take in partnership with the new Iraqi government….

I want to end by saying a word on the importance of succeeding in Iraq. I am aware of the dangers of staying too long in Iraq, as well as the risks of leaving too soon, before success is ensured. A precipitous Coalition departure could unleash a sectarian civil war, which inevitably would draw neighboring states into a regional conflagration that would disrupt oil supplies and cause instability to spill over borders. It could also result in al Qaeda taking over part of Iraq, recreating the sanctuary it enjoyed but lost in Afghanistan. If al Qaeda gained this foothold - which is the strategy of the terrorists - it would be able to exploit Iraq's strategic location and enormous resources. This would make the past challenge of al Qaeda in Afghanistan look like child's play. Finally, a precipitous withdrawal could lead to an ethnic civil war, with the Kurds concluding that the Iraqi democratic experiment had failed and taking matters into their own hands and with regional powers becoming involved to secure their interests.

Whatever anyone may have thought about the decision to topple Saddam - whether one supported it or not - succeeding in Iraq is now essential to the future of the region and the world. Most of the world's security problems emanate from the region stretching from Morocco to Pakistan. Shaping its future is the defining challenge of our time. What happens in Iraq will be decisive in determining how this region evolves. Therefore, the struggle for the future of Iraq is vital to the future of the world.” The Belmont Club

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At 7:38 AM, Anonymous steve said...

I think this is such a small piece of the larger issue. This isn't even about Iraq...
The issue is Shia versus Sunni in the Muslim world (and then the rest of the world) and the terrorist groups that typically align with Shia. Our issue is not with Iraq, our issue is with Shia. That's probably why we allied with Saddam so long ago was that longterm planners KNEW that!

At 3:10 PM, Blogger Bob Dahl said...

It will be interesting to see how many Republican members of Congress stand for reelection this year on the basis that things are going well in Iraq.

Outside of the ultra safe congressional districts, my guess is that a punch press operator could count them on the fingers of one hand.

At 9:28 AM, Anonymous steve said...

Bob, The problem is that if you blame Replicans in general for the Iraq situation (which is not fair to begin with), you need to ask what the alternative DEMs have to offer....not much.


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