Prior to starting this blog, I like most Americans, was wavering in my support for the Iraq War. In 2002 and 2003 I was all for military action in Iraq. I, like nearly everyone in the world, believed Iraq had WMD’s, I criticized the UN for their “if you do it one more time!” routine without ever backing it up, and I believed that Saddam had to go (although I did not believe he was a direct threat to America). As the war continued and dragged on and as the media only reported the negatives in Iraq, my commitment weakened and by May of this year I was leaning towards withdrawing the troops. That all changed once I started the blog and actually started researching what was really going on. Within two weeks of doing this research I was (and still am) 100% convinced of how essential it is that we stay in Iraq and I was also convinced that the surge was starting to work and the tide was slowly changing there.
Previous columns highlighted my reasoning for such beliefs, but I was ever more frustrated. The word was not getting out to the American people. However, that looks like it is starting to change. Last week a couple of analysts from the Brookings Institution, Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack (who were staunchly against the War from the beginning) said, “we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily ‘victory,’ but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.” They continued, “there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.” While these quotes are far from throwing support behind the war, they emphasize a current trend among the media and other observers that Iraq is not as bad as some thought. The one question I have for the above individuals is what constitutes ‘victory’? I would think that a ‘sustainable stability’ is exactly what we are looking for in order to be victorious in Iraq; a stable government that can provide basic services and freedoms and can also provide relative security from insurgents and terrorists. I think we should be looking for stability more along the lines of Morocco or Indonesia rather than Canada or Sweden (at least for the relative short term). But I digress.
Even the AP is getting in on the act. Robert Burns wrote in a column that, “the new U.S. strategy in Iraq… is working.” He further adds:
Despite political setbacks, American commanders are clinging to a hope that stability might be built from the bottom up—with local groups joining or aiding U.S. efforts to root out extremists—rather than from the top down, where national leaders have failed to act.
Commanders are encouraged by signs that more Iraqis are growing fed up with violence. They are also counting on improvements in the Iraqi army and police, which are burdened by religious rivalries and are not ready to take over national defense duties from U.S. troops this year.
Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson writes, “We’re winning in Iraq. Ok, I said it. It’s crazy. Stupid. Naïve. Hopelessly optimistic. And true. Something has changed, and the cut-and-run crowd in Congress did not get the memo. They insist the war is lost and we should get out yesterday. But the war has taken a turn for the better, like a patient making a sudden recovery after years on life support.”
These are just a few examples from among many articles that show that the perceptions of the current situation in Iraq is starting to change. It is very refreshing to finally be hearing good news out of Iraq.
However, the most significant sign that things are changing here at home does not come from the media but by what the people think. In a Gallup Poll released today says that, “the additional troops are ‘making the situation better’ rose to 31% from 22% a month ago. Those who said it was ‘not making much difference’ dropped to 41% from 51%. ” While the 31% and 41% numbers respectively are nothing to write home about, it does show a recent trend of increasing support for our mission in Iraq.
This current situation makes me wonder if Iraq will follow the trend of most of America’s previous wars – e.g. the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and WWII. In each of these wars we lost major battles and were struggling during the initial and early stages in the War. In fact in the Civil War, the Union was losing for the first 3 years and only Lincoln’s resolve kept us afloat. It looks like this same pattern could be what is happening for us in Iraq: early loses, strong negative public sentiment, and then, finally, victory.