It has been a long tough slog supporting the Iraq War, although nowhere near as hard and tough as it has been for our forces fighting it and the Iraqi people living through it. Championing an unpopular position – especially one involving warfare and the building of a nation – is never easy. In the case of Iraq it was the choice between a freed people and American determination, or genocide and American weakness that encourages its enemies
whether the Japanese view of the US as “paper tiger” or alQaeda’s perception of the US as “the weak horse.”
For the past five years Iraq War supporters have dealt with tactical and strategic errors in Iraq. This should be no surprise given that war tends to shred even the best laid plans, the slow progress three-steps-forward two-steps-back that comes with a counterinsurgency strategy, a political party hell-bent on returning to power on the coffins of dead American soldiers and the blood of Iraqis shed by al-Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias, and an antagonistic mainstream media establishment. Epithets like “Haditha“, “Abu Ghraib“, and “Guantanamo” were hurled along with the standard “quagmire,” ”blood for oil,” and ”Vietnam.” Some of these epithets were deserved; in the end most were not.
Those of us who supported the Surge trusted in General Petraeus at the same time the nation’s most respected newspaper ran an ad calling him “Betray Us” at an embarrassingly discounted rate.
With a mainstream media firmly entrenched in the anti-war camp, war supporters were forced to find alternatives like the views of soldiers returning from the field, or in many cases actually still there, as well as the writings of Bill Roggio, Michael Totten, Michael Yon and others who reported what they witnessed amongst the Iraqi people and embedded with US soldiers. These reports were in stark contrast to the mainstream reports written from the Green Zone using material from pro-insurgent stringers, and early on sowed the seeds of hope for those of us who wanted nothing less than victory by our forces and a free Iraq that would eventually join the ranks of normal democratic nations.
In the end the contrast between the two became laughable – as Dave Price regularly pointed out the MSM’s often breathless reports of Moqtada al-Sadr’s (aka “Mookie”) “victory” over Iraqi forces in Basra and Baghdad this past spring. It was only a matter of time before the mainstream media came gave up and began writing positive stories about Surge’s success in Iraq – although with more caveats than are found in any drug commercial. A few sundays ago the local Delaware newspaper – which is horribly biased against anything that 1)doesn’t support the Democratic Party or 2)questions the banking industry – ran an AP wirestory on its front page, “US Now Winning War That Seemed Lost”. It was the first positive story on the Iraq War I had ever seen on the paper’s frontpage.
I waited five years to see column header, five very long years in which I felt the American press had become the propaganda arm of al-Qaeda in Iraq or Mookie’s Jaish al Mahdi (JAM).
The history of the Iraq Surge makes for interesting reading. I never saw the War as lost, nor did I want to see us and the Iraqis lose – unlike Sen Harry Reid. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both voted sometimes for – sometimes against funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq depending which way the wind blew. Iraq War opponent Congressman John Murtha disgraced himself with his slander that his fellow marines slaughtered civilians “in cold blood” in a case that eventually led to a defamation case being filed against him (make that two defamation suits) .
Even the political party I freely chose hasn’t been immune. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-France) voted against the surge, and now demands that we quit talking about its success or who voted for it. I suppose he would want us to forget considering his consistent anti-military position and his current push for a place in an Obama administration. Even my own Congressman Mike Castle – Delaware’s lone Republican voice in a state dominated by Democrats - voted against a bill funding the war in early 2007.
One writer – I’m trying to figure out whom – early on in the surge wrote a piece about General Petraeus that has inspired me through the dark days. It described the chaos that was Iraq, and the hope for a better future that seemed more distant day by day as the nation descended into the heart of darkness. It portrayed General Petraeus in almost mythical tones, and promised that though the times were desperate he would lead his forces and the Iraqi people out of the darkness and into the light of victory and peace. The writing conveyed to me, a civilian of untested loyalty, what it must have been like for my father to serve under Gen. MacArthur in 1944-45. General Petraeus was that kind of leader, one whom good men willingly follow to their last breath.
Michael Yon in his four part series, The Ghosts of Anbar (one of the best pieces of wartime writing I’ve read), complemented the General thus:
It took enormous guts to take the job at this stage of the war, when it’s like an airplane with one of the wings blown off, and there is this pilot in the back of the airplane who easily could have parachuted out the back—where some of the others already have gone—but instead he says, “I can still fly this thing!” Had David Petraeus jumped and landed safely, he’d still have been one of the few who could land with a sterling reputation after his previous commands here. If this jet crashes while Petraeus is flying it, we will always know that the best of the best did not jump out the back; he ran to the cockpit.
Now we have finally made it into the light, and Freedom’s enemies now scurry back to their caves in Pakistan or rewrite history like the denizens of the Kremlin of old in order to portray themselves as fathers to success.
But I can’t forget. And I can’t forgive. Too much has been done; too much said to warrant forgiveness or forgetfulness. A rubicon was crossed – I’m not sure exactly when or where, but crossed nevertheless, and we find ourselves in a new land where judgments must be made, debts repaid and accounts settled. While leftists ponder war crimes tribunals held under an Obama administration, it’s only fair for those of us who stayed the course to not forget what has been said and done by those determined to see America humiliated and genocide prevail in Iraq.
We are at long last vindicated, but we must not forget. Forgive? Perhaps. But not forget.