Handing Over Iraq
As Ralph Peters writes, “Our effort in Iraq passed a major milestone today: Our troops are leaving the cities.” For whatever reason (um, dare I say victory?), interest in Iraq has waned since it collapsed as a viable anti-you-know-who talking point. But progress has been made and now we can safely return Iraq’s cities to Iraqi’s. Peters:
Looking back over six years of good intentions, tragic errors, generosity, arrogance, partisan vituperation, painful deaths and ultimate vindication, two things strike me: the ever-resisted lesson that human affairs are more complex than academic theories claim, and the simple truth that most human beings prefer a measure of freedom to immeasurable repression.
Now the symbolism of our troops withdrawing from Iraq’s cities is richer than Washington grasps. Mesopotamia created urban culture: Ur, Babylon, Nineveh and countless lesser-known sites are where humans first worked out ways to live together in close quarters in large numbers. The coming wave of terror will strike cities that make Baghdad seem a youngster.
The “cradle of civilization” is rising from the grave again.
Yes, sectarianism, old grievances and the greed for power may deliver future crises — even an eventual civil war. An unnatural state with grossly flawed borders, Iraq has more obstacles to overcome than any of its neighbors except Lebanon.
But our achievement remains profound: We gave one key Arab state a chance at freedom and democracy. We deposed a monstrous dictator who butchered his own people and invaded two foreign countries. And we didn’t quit, despite the scorn of the global intelligentsia.
And Pete Hegseth, Iraq veteran:
The historic events of June 30, 2009 didn’t come about because politicians passed resolutions or regional allies capitulated. With the help of President who showed resolve and a General who changed strategy, this day was made possible by over 4,300 American warriors who gave their lives (and over 31,000 wounded) so that others—Iraqis they barely knew—could live free.
This enduring truth is the legacy of this day. May we take pause and remember that nothing good comes without a cost, and that at the end of the day—the only thing standing between the sectarian abyss of 2006 and the triumphant transfer of 2009—were stalwart American troops, their brave Iraqi counterparts, and an Iraqi population that rejected the violent ideology of Al Qaeda.
And it wasn’t just the surge. It was the troops who tore down Saddam’s statue for the world to see, the Soldiers and Marines who crushed insurgents in Fallujah, Ramadi, Mosul, and elsewhere, the Special Operators who hunted and killed Zarqawi, and the thousands of young men who, every day, patrolled endless miles of Iraqi roads, deserts, and cities. Every action played a role, large or small.
We may forget all this, but only at our peril.