You will find a short post from me yesterday on the impressive qualifications of the top military man in Iraq, General David Petraeus (he of the Latin nomenclature - I think it's only a matter of days or weeks now before we start referring to the 3rd Infantry Division as the Tenth Legion, but that's another topic of yesterday's post if you're interested). Coincidentally, Charles Krauthammer has an op-ed column in today's Washington Post (requires a free email address-based registration, which as always pointed out by myself, you ought to already have with the Washington Post anyway) that details the recent success we're having at turning the tribal tide against al-Qaeda. Yet as Krauthammer points out: "what cannot be said -- although it is now heard daily in Washington -- is that the surge, which is shorthand for Gen. David Petraeus's new counterinsurgency strategy, has failed. The tragedy is that, just as a working strategy has been found, some Republicans in the Senate have lost heart and want to pull the plug."
I have a cousin who has served in the National Guard, active duty, for 6 years. I'm in Texas, he's in New York, but did a good deal of training in Texas, so he got to spend some time at Christmas and a few weekends here and there with us a couple of years ago. I've known him since we were kids in New York (he's several years younger than me), and he's just a great kid who never really had any intention of fighting a war, as he joined well before 9/11. He was looking for college tuition assistance and real-world skills, so it seemed like a good idea at the time. In any case, we had a few scares along the way with him possibly needing to go to Iraq or Afghanistan, but his 6 years active was up in April I believe and he never had to go overseas; then we got word a couple of weeks ago that he had been extended and is now on his way to Iraq for a year's tour. My 19-year old niece, a sophomore in college who's very family-oriented and feels pretty deeply connected to all family, even those that are thousands of miles from here, said "they can't do that!" To which the only response from older, wiser, sage Uncle Tom (that's me) was "apparently they can." He shipped out last weekend. His specialty is explosives ordinance something or other - not a good specialty to have in Iraq. Not good at all. Would I give everything to not have him go over there and do what he does? Of course I would. I'm selfish that way, as we all are. And I'm sure parents and wives and siblings and friends felt the same way in World War II and every other war. But loved ones are not the ones making these decisions, so they must go, and we must hope for the best. I would like nothing more than this to end, with total victory however it is measured, and be done. That's not going to happen if we trickle along indefinitely, and it's not going to happen if we just say "we're done" and quit and come home. If that occurs, we'll be right back over there in a matter of years, starting from scratch. I happen to think that al-Qaeda's really got not much left in the tank, that they are unwelcome and unwanted, and that they are on the verge of not only defeat but also total collapse and extinction in Iraq, along with their Iranian and Syrian semi-covert backing. Let's just call their bluff, go all in, finish the job and get everyone home, can't we?