He’s back from Iraq and he’s got a must-read post over at Hot Air, along with some pictures. I’m going to summarize his bullet points here because they need repeating. His optimism on Iraq, and his conveyance of our military’s optimism is also something that needs to be shouted from the rooftops.
Here’s Bryan’s criticism on the Iraq occupation:
1. No plan for the post war period.
2. Leaving Iran alone.
3. Pullbacks and soft failures. Leaving Moqtada al-Sadr alive was a mistake
4. Iraqi elections held too early.
5. Misunderstanding the fundamentals.
6. Assuming Iraq will conform only to unreasonable expectations which are based on ignorance of counterinsurgency warfare.
7. Media misconduct and malpractice leading to flagging homefront morale.
Everything he says here and in his post is quite honest and it makes a ton of sense. The only disagreement I’d have is leaving al-Sadr alive. While we do want notorious thugs like Sadr removed, I think he’d be replaced by a similar, murderous, extremist thug from amongst his clerical constituency. Crushing his Mahdi militia, however, should have been a continuous operation. Just leave a couple of teams with javelins, and when they watch some guys in get in a jeep with AKs, just blast them to bits. That way you don’t leave Sadr a martyr, or consider his sect “defeated” when they are just going to reorganize.
I’ll leave the post with a final quote from Bryan’s piece:
Having said all of this, Iraq is still very winnable. There are mistakes in every war. Iraq is a hideously complex environment to work in and its complexity has to be taken into account. Communities like Al Salam and Khadimiyah in Baghdad prove that at the end of the day most Iraqis value security and the chance to have a normal life above any notions of jihad and sectarianism, and we can work with most Iraqis to make their country safe. Most Iraqis want our troops there now, just not forever. Our troop morale is very high and they are focused on goals that they believe are attainable and will make Iraq stable. Most of the troops we spoke with support the surge; a minority don’t but it doesn’t seem to be a contentious issue. Democracy in Iraq probably won’t look like democracy here when the fight is over (and presuming that we here at home see it through), but if we correct our mistakes and change the media and political dynamics here, we can and should win. The price of failure is that Iraq would become a true hub for an al Qaeda that would see its “victory” in Iraq as Somalia times 100. Iraqi oil dollars would fuel this new terrorist power as long as Iraq’s oil infrastructure holds out. From secure bases in Iraq, the terrorists’ aims and capabilities would be practically limitless. Faith in America as a war ally would be shaken from Europe to Asian and everywhere else.
So whether we win ugly or pretty, we have to win. And we can.