Nytt fra Irak

Diskusjon om politiske temaer fra det internasjonale nyhetsbildet.

Innlegg cain 17 Okt 2007, 07:51

Vegard Martinsen skrev:
.., og at hvor lett det er å få til en krig mot et land ikke er noe godt argument for å gå til krig.

Det er et argument for å begynne der. Hvis det blir en krig mot Iran, er nå USA godt plassert, dvs. i alle land omkring Iran.

Jah! Geostrategi. Iallfall ikke "en krig for irakere". Jeg synes det er naivt å tro at et truet imperium ikke først og fremst er opptatt av å kontrollere eurasia for å kunne opprettholde sine klientstater gjennom dollarhegemoniet.
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Innlegg Vegard Martinsen 17 Okt 2007, 10:18

cain skrev:... Jah! Geostrategi. Iallfall ikke "en krig for irakere". Jeg synes det er naivt å tro at et truet imperium ikke først og fremst er opptatt av å kontrollere eurasia for å kunne opprettholde sine klientstater gjennom dollarhegemoniet.

Cain må gjerne kalle det naivt, men jeg deler ikke Cains syn.

USA burde ha ført en egoistisk krig, noe jeg forklarte i artikkelen linket til over, men det gjør de dessverre ikke.
Vegard Martinsen
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Innlegg Vegard Martinsen 29 Okt 2007, 12:26

Inside the Surge
By Michael Yon

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Re ... 0A421D3E9C

This week, the U.S. announced that military deaths in Iraq had fallen dramatically, to the lowest levels since March 2006, a sign that the surge of troops is working. Officers say increased cooperation from Iraqi civilians - who are tired of the terrorism and violence - has helped stem attacks.

This comes as no surprise to Michael Yon, a writer who has blogged from Iraq since 2005. Yon, who is supported by donations to his Web site (michaelyon-online.com), writes about his own observations on the ground this year, embedded with U.S. troops.

Statistics in reports about faraway places can blunt the reality of what those numbers mean. But when it is a bomb in a road you are about to drive on, it takes on a whole new cast, as I found yet again when I spent most of May in Anbar Province.

I visited a former labor camp nicknamed “Coolie Village," or what remained of it, after a truck bomb locals attributed to al Qaeda had flattened it. Not surprisingly, the anger and frustration in response to this mass murder helped the villagers overcome their fear of the thugs who had taken hold of their community.

In mid-May, 2007, the Iraqi Army and Police had conducted a “Combined Medical Exercise" in the village of Falahat, and Iraqi doctors saw about 200 villagers. Two days later, the Iraqi Police opened an outpost at the old Falahat train station. That was just about the same time I was driving out to stay with a small team of Marines who were assigned as “MiTT 8" (Military Training Team 8.)

The men of MiTT 8 were living with their Iraqi protégées in filthy shipping containers on a highway. Several months ago they were attacked by a car bomb. But at about 9 a.m., while I was traveling to their location with Marines in a Humvee, some Falahat villagers went to the new police station to report the presence of a culprit they knew was placing bombs on the road.

It happened that quickly.

Within mere days of opening the station, people spoke up. The Iraqi Police (some of whom freely admitted to having been recent insurgents) called the tip into the Iraqi Army living with the Marines of MiTT 8. Our Humvee pulled up to the small MiTT 8 compound, where we met Staff Sergeant Rakene Lee, who was dressed for combat, and who was to take the Humvees and lead the mission to the suspected bomb site. The Iraqi Army was already blocking the road.

The patrol I was with had nearly run into an IED, except for a tip from Iraqis in another village, making what could have been my last dispatch.


All across Iraq, people are fed up with the abuse of power, even when it wears the badge of a police officer, even when it's a local hero.

When I was in the city of Hit this May, I saw firsthand a dramatic example. Many people in Hit directly attribute the resurrection of their city in large part to the courage of Iraqi Police General Ibrahim Hamid Jaza, who took an aggressive stand against the al Qaeda Iraq (AQI) terrorists who had brazenly made Anbar province a home base and slaughterhouse with their marketplace car bombs, beheadings and reputation for hiding bombs intended to kill parents in the corpses of dead children they'd gutted.

Between shooting people for using the Internet, watching television or other “moral transgressions" such as smoking in public, AQI's claim of fundamentalist piety proved to be a thin veneer, quickly eroded by blatant drug, alcohol and prostitute use. The people of Anbar rejected AQI, but AQI was still strong and well-armed, so rejection was only a first step.

General Hamid was one of the brave souls who took an early stand and went for their throats. In doing so, he demonstrated that the terrorists were also vulnerable. Some soldiers began to jokingly refer to the general as “Bufford Pusser" because Hamid literally carried a big stick. But AQI wasn't laughing; they beheaded Hamid's son on a soccer field in the center of Hit in 2005.

About a year ago Coalition forces selected Hamid to be the district chief of police, confirming his status as a true hero to many Americans and Iraqis.

But recent signs suggested that Hamid might have flown too close to the sun. Details of his corruption began to accumulate. It was a stunning development when, without warning or notice, the U.S. military arrested and detained the general.

They had no choice, the evidence was clear. Furthermore, the people of Anbar had risked reaching out to the Americans, expressing a concern about Hamid and sharing intelligence to support it. They expected U.S. soldiers to help solve the problem. And although some feared the arrest would cause the city to erupt in violent clashes, what happened next is powerful testimony for how much the area has changed. The next day, Hamid's supporters, and there were many, gathered in the market square and held an organized and peaceful protest demonstration, after which they all went back home.


From Anbar, I traveled back to Baghdad then to Diyala, where al Qaeda had announced to the world it would base its caliphate in the provincial capital Baqubah. I was embedded with soldiers who formed the spear point of the largest offensive operation since the invasion of Iraq, and I watched as people from all walks of life came forward to share information that saved the lives of American and Iraq soldiers and cleared the streets of the al Qaeda operatives.

In one of my first reports from the still unfolding Operation Arrowhead Ripper, I wrote:

Locals, who are increasingly helpful in pointing out and celebrating the downfall of AQI here, said that during the initial Arrowhead Ripper attack the morning of June 19th, AQI murdered five men. [U.S. soldiers] found the buried corpses behind an AQI prison, exactly where they'd been told to look for the group grave. Locals also directed [soldiers] to a torture house. Peering through the window, American soldiers saw knives, swords, bindings and drills. AQI is well-known for its macabre eagerness to drill into kneecaps, elbows ribs, skulls and other parts of victims.

During the operation's initial phase, U.S. soldiers encountered about 130 serious IEDs on the way in, but suffered only one fatality in the attack; Iraqis were pointing to the bombs before they could detonate.

Over many embeds, stretching out over the course of three years, I've seen massacres occur before my eyes, and I've heard more stories about the brutality (and inanity) of al Qaeda than I can or want to remember.

But one stands out, from June of this year, when I was with U.S. and Iraqi forces in a small abandoned village near Baqubah. There, in a series of shallow graves, were the remains of murdered people, among them the discarded bodies of little children whose heads had been cut off. The stench was horrific. Even the stock animals were killed and left to rot in the sun. There was no human or animal left alive in the village.

Captain Baker, Scorpion Company Commander (5th Iraqi Army), whose men had the gruesome task of digging up all the graves, told me al Qaeda had taken the village of al Hamira, which had the apparent misfortune of being located near a main road, making it ideal for launching attacks on soldiers. Days after, an Iraqi man told me in a room full of American and Iraqi military officers, that al Qaeda had “invited" parents they wanted to “influence" to lunch, and then brought in the body of their baked son. I do not know if the stories were true, and no proof was offered, but other Iraqis in the area told similar stories and all seemed to believe it. And, of course, I had just seen the decapitated heads of children in al Hamira village and smelled their rotting bodies. The stench of al Qaeda will forever remain with me.

The level of brutality against ordinary Iraqis throughout Diyala, often directed against women and children, is what prompted many Sunni insurgent militia groups to come forward and work with Coalition forces. Some groups, such as the 1920 Revolution Brigades, were formerly allied with al Qaeda, or at least willing to facilitate or ignore their attacks against Shia or Coalition forces.

The 1920s are deadly, and they had been worthy adversaries for us, but when al Qaeda control turned to indiscriminate murder of innocent civilians, the 1920s joined forces with the U.S. and Iraqi Armies and together they practically mopped the streets of AQI in Baqubah.

Before heading to Anbar in May, I'd spent some time with the soldiers of the 1-4 Cavalry as they converted an abandoned seminary in a dangerous Baghdad neighborhood into their new home and headquarters as COP (Combat Outpost) Amanche. I wrote about some early encouraging signs of how the neighbors might respond to the presence of American and Iraqi soldiers so close by. I ended an April dispatch with a photograph of LTC James Crider, commander of the 1-4 CAV, with this caption: “And so we find it here, in the Garden of Eden, in God's hands through the 1-4 Cavalry from Kansas: the last hope against genocide in the land between two rivers."
In late September I received an e-mail update from LTC Crider, which he allowed me to publish on my Web site. In it, he wrote: “One other example, recently we had seven IEDs discovered or detonated in a single seven day span. On every one, we got a phone call from a local national telling us exactly where it was or we were called immediately after and told who placed it. For the record, not one IED was effective."


Today, I'm staying at a small outpost called JSS (Joint Security Station) “Black Lions" with the 1-18th Infantry battalion. Al Qaeda are so diminished in this area, according to the commander here, LTC Patrick Frank, that they are maybe 3 percent of the problem. But JAM (the Madhi Army created by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr) is the big problem around JSS Black Lion.

A soldier was blown up and killed about 400 meters away on Thursday evening. LTC Frank told me the other day that his best weapon system is his cell phone. Calls come to him (through his interpreter) every day and into the night, with information from locals about the whereabouts of wanted JAM members. Many local people are clearly fed up with the violence. Some even send e-mails with Google Earth maps showing exactly where suspects are, and they are doing it in real time.

We'll be sitting there in the TOC (tactical operations center or HQ) and an e-mail comes in and it's literally a map (or a photo of one) with detailed descriptions of wanted men and/or caches. And the information is turning out to be true. I have never seen anything like this before,

It's becoming almost bizarre how specific the informants are becoming. Informants have called up saying they are with bad guys right now and giving their location. Our guys show up and arrest everyone. Hours later, the U.S. soldiers let the informants go. JAM and AQI are getting slammed in many areas because local people are sick of the violence and local people trust Americans to help them end it.

Where all this can end was suggested to me on Wednesday, when I was at a large Sunni-Shia reconciliation meeting where more than 80 local leaders attended and signed an agreement.

Whether it can be sustained here, or spread to other areas, is in question. But the resolve of Iraqi people to end the scourge of sectarian violence that has stalled and scarred their country is not.
Vegard Martinsen
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Innlegg Vegard Martinsen 06 Nov 2007, 12:27

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/commen ... 796318.ece

Fra London Times

The Petraeus Curve

Serious success in Iraq is not being recognised as it should be
Is no news good news or bad news? In Iraq, it seems good news is deemed no news. There has been striking success in the past few months in the attempt to improve security, defeat al-Qaeda sympathisers and create the political conditions in which a settlement between the Shia and the Sunni communities can be reached. This has not been an accident but the consequence of a strategy overseen by General David Petraeus in the past several months. [uthevet her] While summarised by the single word “surge” his efforts have not just been about putting more troops on the ground but also employing them in a more sophisticated manner. This drive has effectively broken whatever alliances might have been struck in the past by terrorist factions and aggrieved Sunnis. Cities such as Fallujah, once notorious centres of slaughter, have been transformed in a remarkable time.

Indeed, on every relevant measure, the shape of the Petraeus curve is profoundly encouraging. It is not only the number of coalition deaths and injuries that has fallen sharply (October was the best month for 18 months and the second-best in almost four years), but the number of fatalities among Iraqi civilians has also tumbled similarly. This process started outside Baghdad but now even the capital itself has a sense of being much less violent and more viable. As we report today, something akin to a normal nightlife is beginning to re-emerge in the city. As the pace of reconstruction quickens, the prospects for economic recovery will be enhanced yet further. With oil at record high prices, Iraq should be an extremely prosperous nation and in a position to start planning for its future with confidence.

None of this means that all the past difficulties have become history. A weakened al-Qaeda will be tempted to attempt more spectacular attacks to inflict substantial loss of life in an effort to prove that it remains in business. Although the tally of car bombings and improvised explosive devices has fallen back sharply, it would only take one blast directed at an especially large crowd or a holy site of unusual reverence for the headlines about impending civil war to be allowed another outing. The Government headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has become more proactive since the summer, but must immediately take advantage of these favourable conditions. The supposed representatives of the Iraqi people in Baghdad need to show both responsibility and creativity if the country's potential is to be realised.

The current achievements, and they are achievements, are being treated as almost an embarrassment in certain quarters. The entire context of the contest for the Democratic nomination for president has been based on the conclusion that Iraq is an absolute disaster and the first task of the next president is to extricate the United States at maximum speed. Democrats who voted for the war have either repudiated their past support completely (John Edwards) or engaged in a convoluted partial retraction (Hillary Clinton). Congressional Democrats have spent most of this year trying (and failing) to impose a timetable for an outright exit. In Britain, in a somewhat more subtle fashion admittedly, Gordon Brown assumed on becoming the Prime Minister that he should send signals to the voters that Iraq had been “Blair's War”, not one to which he or Britain were totally committed.

All of these attitudes have become outdated. There are many valid complaints about the manner in which the Bush Administration and Donald Rumsfeld, in particular, managed Iraq after the 2003 military victory. But not to recognise that matters have improved vastly in the year since Mr Rumsfeld's resignation from the Pentagon was announced and General Petraeus was liberated would be ridiculous. Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have to appreciate that Iraq is no longer, as they thought, an exercise in damage limitation but one of making the most of an opportunity. The instinct of too many people is that if Iraq is going badly we should get out because it is going badly and if it is getting better we should get out because it is getting better. This is a catastrophic miscalculation. Iraq is getting better. That is good, not bad, news.
Vegard Martinsen
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Innlegg Vegard Martinsen 12 Nov 2007, 09:25


Is Iraq getting better?
By Jim Muir
BBC News, Baghdad

Is Iraq getting better? The statistics say so, across the board.
Over the past three months, there has been a sharp and sustained drop in all forms of violence. The figures for dead and wounded, military and civilian, have also greatly improved.

All across Baghdad, which has seen the worst of the violence, streets are springing back to life. Shops and restaurants which closed down are back in business.

People walk in crowded streets in the evening, when just a few months ago they would have been huddled behind locked doors in their homes.

Everybody agrees that things are much better.

But is the improvement only skin deep? And will it last once the American troops, whose "surge" has clearly made a difference, begin to scale down?

In the past few days, two events have underlined big changes that have happened in recent months on both the Sunni and Shia sides of the Iraqi equation.

Reign of terror

On Thursday, in a crowded public hall in the mainly Shia city of Karbala, south of Baghdad, the local police chief, Brig-Gen Ra'id Shaker Jawdat, bitterly denounced the Mehdi Army militia, accusing it of presiding over a four-year reign of terror there.

It was an extraordinary occasion. One by one, men and women stood up and screamed abuse at the militia, blaming it for killing and torturing their loved ones.

It could not have happened a few months ago, when the Mehdi Army - the military wing of the movement headed by the militant young Shia cleric, Moqtada Sadr - was the real power in the streets of Karbala.

A few days later, Moqtada Sadr ordered his followers to halt all forms of military action nationwide, even in self-defence.

That was a turning-point in Baghdad too. The number of bodies being found daily, dumped randomly in the city after being abducted, tortured and killed in sectarian reprisals, dropped from dozens a day to less than a handful.

Scenes of rejoicing

On Friday, near Samarra to the north of Baghdad, fighters from a Sunni faction called the Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI) launched a surprise attack on positions held by al-Qaeda in the area.

Police said the IAI killed 18 al-Qaeda militants and captured 16 others.

Shortly afterwards, another Sunni group known as the 1920 Revolution Brigades launched a similar operation against al-Qaeda at al-Buhriz in Diyala province, also north of Baghdad.

They captured 60 al-Qaeda suspects and handed them over to the Iraqi army, amidst scenes of rejoicing in the town's streets.

These also were events that simply could not have happened until recently.

Both the IAI and the 1920 Revolution Brigades used to be insurgent groups themselves, fighting alongside al-Qaeda against the multinational forces and Iraqi government troops.

Blow to militants

Now, starting with the western al-Anbar province and spreading east to Baghdad and mainly Sunni areas to the north, there has been a gathering trend whereby Sunni tribes and nationalist groups have turned against al-Qaeda as their primary enemy.

The Americans have seized on the tactic, encouraging tribal and other Sunnis to form regional associations, such as al-Sahwa (The Awakening), as a vehicle for getting government and coalition support.

In the provinces, tribesmen joining up are paid $600 a month to protect their own areas against al-Qaeda.

The trend has spread deep into mainly Sunni districts of Baghdad, where al-Sahwa has filled the gap left by al-Qaeda.

American forces have recruited thousands of young men, who are given uniforms and $300 a month to act as neighbourhood guards (known in US military jargon as Concerned Local Citizens, or CLCs).

They apply in droves, as there are no other jobs in town.

US forces have moved into virtually every area and set up fixed positions. They have local mobile phone numbers emblazoned on their vehicles for the CLCs to call if they run into trouble.

This, combined with the way in which the US troop surge has proactively tackled any al-Qaeda presence it can detect, has dealt a massive blow to the Sunni militants.

Islamic State elements have disappeared - shops have reopened - my daughter can walk to school without wearing a headscarf
Baghdad resident

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki, is now openly claiming victory against al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

US military leaders are more cautious.

"There is no part of Baghdad in which al-Qaeda has a stronghold any more," said Brig-Gen Joseph Fil, commander of the Multinational Forces in Baghdad.

"But Baghdad is a dangerous place. Al-Qaeda, although on the ropes, is not finished by any means. They could come back swinging if they're allowed to, in fact, we've seen it," he added.

Bomb attacks rarer

But there is no doubt that it has lost out massively in Baghdad.

One resident of the mainly-Sunni area of Dora, in the south of the capital, summed it up.

"The Islamic State in Iraq (the umbrella name adopted by al-Qaeda groups) used to control most of the area like a phantom presence. I know Shia shopkeepers who were shot dead in their shops."

"They put up notices warning people to wear strict Islamic dress. Everybody was frightened. When we called the police to report bodies on the street, they said it was a no-go area and they couldn't come."

"Now, the Islamic State elements have disappeared. Shops have reopened. My daughter can walk to school without wearing a headscarf. Some Shias who fled have come back. And most important of all, we haven't heard of anybody being killed since July."

The setback dealt to al-Qaeda and affiliates has had a knock-on effect in the Shia communities too.

The often massive, indiscriminate bomb attacks for which they were blamed, and which used to hit Shia areas on a daily basis, have now become a rarity.

The huge drop in bomb attacks has removed one of the main raisons d'etre for the Mehdi Army, the most active Shia militia in Baghdad.

Since neither the state nor the coalition forces had been able to stop the bomb attacks before, the Mehdi Army could pose as the only saviour of the Shias from slaughter at the hands of fanatical Sunni extremists.

Militia power

"They were on the streets every day, with guns, controlling and checking people," said a Shia resident.

"When there were attacks on Shia shrines, such as Samarra last year, they killed many Sunnis in the area in revenge."

"Now, they are much weaker. Many of the leaders have been arrested or killed by the Americans. Others have fled. Some are still around, but they are keeping a low profile."

The US military admit that around 13% of Baghdad - mainly parts of the huge eastern Shia suburbs, Sadr City, where the Mehdi Army used to hold undisputed sway - remain to be brought fully under control.

But the decision by Moqtada Sadr to order a freeze on militia action has removed political cover from Shia militants who resist, and who are now regarded as "rogue elements".

"When we go to the [Shia-dominated] Iraqi government with lists of militia leaders we want to get, they're very supportive," said Baghdad coalition forces commander Gen Fil.

This whole thing is so US-dependent - it's temporary security - the Mehdi Army are just biding their time
Baghdad Sunni resident

One problem is that the Americans and the Iraqi government cannot use the al-Sahwa ploy of recruiting local youths in Shia areas to mount guard against the Mehdi Army. It simply would not work.

Unlike al-Qaeda's situation in the Sunni areas, Shia leaders such as Moqtada al-Sadr enjoy considerable popular support among the Shia, even if elements of the militia have got well out of hand.

Some residents of Shia neighbourhoods are optimistic that another six months of sustained effort might see the militias off for good. Others are not so sure.

Massive challenges

The huge problem in both Sunni and Shia areas is that continued success is desperately dependent on a continuing American presence, while the US is planning to start drawing down its forces next year.

"In my Sunni area, people are happy to see their sons defending the neighbourhood in an official way, because it's under an American umbrella," said one Sunni.

"That means they're not afraid that the Mehdi Army or another Shia militia will come through the lines and kill us."

The Iraqi Army and police have frequently been accused of either colluding with or turning a blind eye to the Shia militias, some of which have operated openly under the guise of official security formations.

We need federalism, but we also need a dictator, a strong powerful government - if we don't get the militia out, there will be no solution
Baghdad Shia resident

Especially among the Sunnis, there is little popular confidence in the Iraqi army, and much less, if any at all, in the police.

"Forget about the Iraqi police, they're either Mehdi Army in uniform or professional thieves, or both," said a Sunni living in a largely-Shia area.

"It bothers me that this whole thing is so US-dependent. It's temporary security. The Mehdi Army are just biding their time, and waiting to come back out and get back to business, extorting money from people, forcing them out of their homes and then renting them out. It's big business."

"I'm not optimistic about the surge, because of the sympathies of the Iraqi police and army towards the Mehdi Army," said a Shia from south-east Baghdad.

"It's an ironic situation, where we need federalism, but we also need a dictator, a strong powerful government. If we don't get the militia out, there will be no solution."

Purging the security forces of militia influence and sympathies is a huge task that needs a strong, neutral political will and a sustained effort.

There are many other massive challenges that will affect the outcome of the current struggle.

Need for reconstruction

Everybody agrees that military and security measures on their own can only go so far if not buttressed by economic, social and political progress.

The Americans and Iraqi government are well aware of the need to follow up with services - electricity and water supplies are still sporadic - and job-creation schemes if they are to hold the ground they are clearing.

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has said that next year will be the year of services and reconstruction. At this stage, Iraqis are looking for performance and delivery, not promises and fine words.

One of the main stated objectives of the US troop surge was to clear a space for the Iraqi politicians to enact nation-building legislation and pursue national reconciliation as the cornerstone of the New Iraq.

But virtually none of the key pieces of required legislation has yet been passed by a fractious Iraqi parliament which has been wracked by factional disputes.

There is still no shared and agreed vision of Iraq's future. Kurds and some Shias want a loose, federal arrangement, while Sunnis and some others want a stronger, more centralised state.

It matters. To which Iraq are people signing up with the security forces swearing allegiance?

In the absence of progress at the top, the Americans are counting on developments and reconciliations at grass-roots levels, a "bottom-to-top" approach. How far that process can go at that level alone is an unanswered question.

Despite the progress in the security arena, the story is far from over. The casualty figures are down, but people are still being killed every day.

While things have improved greatly in Baghdad, inter-Shia power struggles in the south of the country remain intense, and insurgent activity continues strong around Mosul and Kirkuk in the north.

Nobody can underestimate the magnitude of the task ahead. And with the clock for US troop withdrawals ticking ever more loudly in Washington, it is a race against time.

But there can be no denying that many Iraqis, especially in Baghdad, are more optimistic now than they would have dared believe possible a year ago.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/m ... 089168.stm
Vegard Martinsen
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Innlegg Vegard Martinsen 15 Nov 2007, 13:37

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 01940.html

Gifts of Thanks for the Troops
By Elizabeth L. Robbins

BAGHDAD -- As the veterans of World War II pass too quickly into history, their ranks are being replaced by a new "greatest generation." The war on terrorism is creating veterans at a rate not seen in decades.

Yet the military is much smaller now than during World War II, leading some analysts to posit that a rift exists between soldiers and citizens and that those making sacrifices on the battle front are disconnected from the society whose freedoms they defend. The American people are oblivious to the war, they claim, as well as to the men and women who are fighting it. Some have even suggested that the only way to close the gap is to return to conscription.

But these observers of the social scene have never served in Iraq.

Those of us overseas know that "support the troops" is more than a slogan. Here we are besieged by what my master sergeant calls "paper love," the cards, letters, posters and other gestures of support sent by people across America. The paper love is often accompanied by packages of snacks and comfort items. Some mail comes from family members, but even more is sent by private citizens and troop support organizations. The war has inspired a remarkable level of civic involvement that goes largely unnoticed -- except by those of us in the field or recovering stateside.

All of us are volunteers. We're in Iraq because we want to serve. We are well educated and physically fit and could have pursued a variety of other life options. But, to paraphrase Defense Secretary Robert Gates, we are driven by the romantic and optimistic ideal that we can improve the world. We are seeing real progress on the ground, and we are helping Iraq to change.

Idealism, however, does not diminish our longing for home or the pain of missing family. It does not dispel all fear and doubt, and it does not heal our wounded or fallen friends. So when we are feeling disheartened, we open the care packages and read the letters.

"Thank you for helping to protect our country . . . we admire your courage!" writes a child from Congregation Beth Am in Buffalo Grove, Ill.

"Thank you! Enjoy the coffee!" writes Starbucks of Gig Harbor, Wash.

"May the Lord give you safety and watch over you," writes Millie from the Yellow Ribbon Support Center of Cincinnati.

"Happy Thanksgiving!" writes Brownie Troop 250 from Christ Lutheran Church of Valencia, Calif.

Cynics might think these expressions of goodwill from strangers are hokey, but they are tacked on the walls of nearly every workspace, living area and hospital ward in Iraq.

This past May, a young soldier received several hundred tributes drawn by children at McNair Elementary School in Herndon, Va., where his mother does volunteer work. He taped them up along a hallway at Multi-National Force-Iraq headquarters, forming the letters T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U.

Members of our coalition partners' armed forces congregated in the hallway looking at the posters with wonder. They asked passersby, "American children send these to you? They are so beautiful!" Some shook their heads and confessed that they were stunned at the support we enjoy from our people back home.

Contrast this with a September statement by Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt, chief of the general staff of the British army: "In America, the appreciation for the armed forces is outstanding, and, frankly, I would like to be able to mirror some of that here. In the States, many companies offer military discounts for serving soldiers, sports teams give out free tickets, people in the street shake the hand of men in uniform."

We have come a long way from the dark days during Vietnam, when people would spit on our men and women in uniform. Those of us serving today have great faith in the American people, and apparently the feeling is mutual. It is comforting that today's veterans will return to civilian life remembering the warmth and support of Americans living comfortably back home while they served in difficult circumstances overseas.

So thank you from us future veterans. Thanks for saying thanks.
Vegard Martinsen
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Innlegg Vegard Martinsen 18 Feb 2008, 12:44

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Re ... 6F04E149F0

Remembering Those Benchmarks?
By Fred Barnes
The Weekly Standard | Monday, February 18, 2008

A year ago, when neither the war nor political reconciliation was A going well, the Bush administration reluctantly agreed to 18 benchmarks for judging progress in Iraq. And the Democratic Congress eagerly wrote the benchmarks into law, also requiring the administration to report back in July and September on whether the benchmarks were being met.

Despite the surge of additional American troops and a new counterinsurgency strategy, the reports found little progress on the political benchmarks requiring tangible steps toward reconciliation between Shia and Sunnis. Democrats insisted this meant the surge had failed.

They had a point, but not anymore. The surge, by quelling violence and providing security, was supposed to produce "breathing space" in which reconciliation could take place. Now it has, not because President Bush says so, but based on those same benchmarks that Democrats once claimed were measures of failure in Iraq.

Last week, the Iraqi parliament passed three laws that amounted to a political surge to achieve reconciliation. Taken together, the laws are likely to bring minority Sunnis fully into the political process they had earlier boycotted and to produce a new class of political leaders.

Just as important is what the laws reflect in Iraq today. "The whole motivating factor" behind the legislation was "reconciliation, not retribution," says American ambassador Ryan Crocker, who has never sugarcoated the impediments to progress in Iraq. This is "remarkably different" from six months ago, he said.

The Iraqi government had made progress on nine of the 18 benchmarks before last week. But these were the easier ones, like forming a constitutional review committee or establishing security stations in Baghdad with American and Iraqi soldiers. The new laws deal with the harder, more divisive issues.

The most controversial--and the toughest to enact--gives significant power to provincial councils and mandates new provincial elections by October 1. As a result, leaders of the so-called Sunni Awakening who have broken with al Qaeda and insurgents are all but certain to gain power. And Iraq will have a decentralized, federal system of government.

In assessing progress last fall, the administration conceded the Iraqis had "not made significant progress" on achieving the benchmark on provincial powers. Now they have.

Next in importance to reconciliation is an amnesty law under which thousands of jailed Sunnis who haven't been charged with a crime will be released. Months ago, the administration said "the prerequisites for a successful general amnesty are not present." But the surge changed that by reducing violence and creating the conditions for amnesty.

If they wish, Democrats can cite the failure of the Iraqi parliament to pass a "hydrocarbons" law to codify the sharing of oil revenues among the Shia, Sunnis, and Kurds. And that law is still needed, particularly to provide a framework for managing the oil sector of the Iraqi economy.

In effect, however, the Iraqis are now sharing oil revenues through the $48 billion budget they passed. Ten billion dollars is to be distributed to the provinces without any sectarian bias. By the way, the vast majority of the $48 billion came from oil production.

A few weeks ago, the Iraqi government dealt with still another benchmark involving reconciliation. It called for "enacting and implementing a de-Baathification reform" to allow thousands of bureaucrats and officials in Saddam Hussein's regime to regain their jobs. Last fall, the Iraqis had "not made satisfactory progress" on this reform.

The new law has been criticized as too complicated. It may be as likely to force former Baathists--Sunnis mostly--out of jobs as it is to provide them with job opportunities. Crocker said the law will have to be straightened out by the executive council of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the president (a Kurd), and two vice presidents (Shia and Sunni). "They're approaching it from a spirit of reconciliation," he said. We'll see.

When the second benchmarks report was released last September, Democrats jumped on it. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said the report "shows the president's flawed escalation policy is not working." According to Democratic senator Joe Biden of Delaware, "all it does is point out the failure." Democratic senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island said the Iraqi government "is not making progress ... with respect to these benchmarks."

Now, the facts on the ground have changed dramatically, and so has progress on the benchmarks. Will Democrats acknowledge this? Or will they continue to claim the surge has failed and demand rapid withdrawal of our troops? So far, Democrats have reacted with silence.

"Facts are stubborn," Hillary Clinton said last month, "and I know it's sometimes hard to keep track of facts. But facts matter." Indeed they do. But with Democrats, the warning of former Harvard dean Henry Rosovsky may apply. "Never underestimate the difficulty," he said, "of changing false beliefs by facts."

Vegard Martinsen
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Innlegg Vegard Martinsen 21 Mar 2008, 08:32

President Bush´s tale på fem-års-markeringen av invasjonen av Irak:

http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticle ... 5923389532

Et utdrag:

"Bush On 5th Anniversary Of A War That's 'Noble, Necessary And Just',"

The surge has done more than turn the situation in Iraq around—it has opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror. For the terrorists, Iraq was supposed to be the place where al-Qaida rallied Arab masses to drive America out. Instead, Iraq has become the place where Arabs joined with Americans to drive al-Qaida out. In Iraq, we are witnessing the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden, his grim ideology and his murderous network. The significance of this cannot be overstated.
The terrorist movement feeds on a sense of inevitability, and claims to rise on the tide of history. The accomplishments of the surge in Iraq are exposing this myth and discrediting the extremists. When Iraqi and American forces finish the job, the effects will reverberate far beyond Iraq's borders.

Osama bin Laden once said: "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse." By defeating al-Qaida in Iraq, we will show the world that al-Qaida is the weak horse….

The successes we are seeing in Iraq are undeniable—yet some in Washington still call for retreat….

If we were to allow our enemies to prevail in Iraq, the violence that is now declining would accelerate—and Iraq would descend into chaos. Al-Qaida would regain its lost sanctuaries and establish new ones—fomenting violence and terror that could spread beyond Iraq's borders, with serious consequences for the world's economy.

Out of such chaos in Iraq, the terrorist movement could emerge emboldened—with new recruits, new resources and an even greater determination to dominate the region and harm America. An emboldened al-Qaida with access to Iraq's oil resources could pursue its ambitions to acquire weapons of mass destruction to attack America and other free nations.

Iran would be emboldened as well—with a renewed determination to develop nuclear weapons and impose its brand of hegemony across the Middle East. Our enemies would see an (American) failure in Iraq as evidence of weakness and a lack of resolve….

Five years ago tonight, I promised the American people that in the struggle ahead "we will accept no outcome but victory." Today, standing before men and women who helped liberate a nation, I reaffirm the commitment. The battle in Iraq is noble, it is necessary and it is just. And with your courage, the battle in Iraq will end in victory.
Vegard Martinsen
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Innlegg Vegard Martinsen 21 Mar 2008, 08:34

Et av tegnene på USAs suksess i Irak er at Mookie - terroristlederen Moqtada al-Sadr - har trukket seg tilbake:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1205967 ... torialPage

I have failed to liberate Iraq, and transform its society into an Islamic society."—Moqtada al-Sadr, Asharq Al Awsat newspaper, March 8, 2008

Moqtada al-Sadr—the radical cleric dubbed "The Most Dangerous Man in Iraq" by a Newsweek cover story in December 2006—has just unilaterally extended the ceasefire he imposed on his Mahdi Army militia last summer. And on the eve of the Iraq War's fifth anniversary, Sadr also issued a somber but dramatic statement. He not only declared that he had failed to transform Iraq, but also lamented the new debates and divisions within his own movement. Explaining his marginalization, Sadr all but confessed his growing isolation: "One hand cannot clap alone."

What happened?...

Moqtada al-Sadr came very close to establishing a state within a state inside Iraq, much like Hezbollah had done in Lebanon….

The principal reason for Sadr's ability to augment his power during these years was the absence of security in Baghdad….

As one Sadrist militant told the International Crisis Group last year: "The Mahdi Army's effort to conquer neighborhoods is highly sophisticated. It presents itself as protector of Shiites and recruits local residents to assist in this task. In so doing, it gains support from people who possess considerable information—on where the Sunnis and Shiites are, on who backs and who opposes the Sadrists and so forth."…

In 2007, the US military shifted approach, putting in place for the first time a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy backed by a surge of troops to support it. The new strategy paid large dividends against al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents, as attacks dropped to 2005 levels and Iraqi deaths due to ethno-sectarian violence declined 90% from June 2007 to March 2008. As Sunni attacks against Shiite civilians declined, so did the rationale for Sadr's authority.

As the International Crisis Group concluded, one "net effect" of the surge "was to leave the Sadrist movement increasingly exposed, more and more criticized and divided, and subject to arrest."…

So while the progress made against Sadr has been remarkable, it may also be fragile. Sustaining it means recognizing that political progress depends fundamentally on security. This basic insight of counterinsurgency warfare—which has driven our progress against Sadr's militants, the Sunni insurgency, and al Qaeda over the past year—is the central lesson America has learned in its five years of war in Iraq.
Vegard Martinsen
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Innlegg Vegard Martinsen 08 Apr 2008, 07:25

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1207523 ... itorialPag

Iraq and Its Costs

When Gen. David Petraeus testifies before Congress tomorrow, he will step into an American political landscape dramatically different from the one he faced when he last spoke on Capitol Hill seven months ago.

This time Gen. Petraeus returns to Washington having led one of the most remarkably successful military operations in American history. His antiwar critics, meanwhile, face a crisis of credibility – having confidently predicted the failure of the surge, and been proven decidedly wrong. [uthevet her]

As late as last September, advocates of retreat insisted that the surge would fail to bring about any meaningful reduction in violence in Iraq. MoveOn.org accused Gen. Petraeus of "cooking the books," while others claimed that his testimony, offering evidence of early progress, required "the willing suspension of disbelief."

Gen. Petraeus will be the first to acknowledge that the gains in Iraq have come at a heavy price in blood and treasure. We mourn the loss and pain of the civilians and service members who have been killed and wounded in Iraq, but adamantly believe these losses have served a noble cause.

No one can deny the dramatic improvements in security in Iraq achieved by Gen. Petraeus, the brave troops under his command, and the Iraqi Security Forces. From June 2007 through February 2008, deaths from ethno-sectarian violence in Baghdad have fallen approximately 90%. American casualties have also fallen sharply, down by 70%.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has been swept from its former strongholds in Anbar province and Baghdad. The liberation of these areas was made possible by the surge, which empowered Iraqi Muslims to reject the Islamist extremists who had previously terrorized them into submission. Any time Muslims take up arms against Osama bin Laden, his agents and sympathizers, the world is a safer place.
[uthevet her]

In the past seven months, the other main argument offered by critics of the Petraeus strategy has also begun to collapse: namely, the alleged lack of Iraqi political progress.

Antiwar forces last September latched onto the Iraqi government's failure to pass "benchmark" legislation, relentlessly hammering Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as hopelessly sectarian and unwilling to confront Iranian-backed Shiite militias. Here as well, however, the critics in Washington have been proven wrong.

In recent months, the Iraqi government, encouraged by our Ambassador in Iraq, Ryan Crocker, has passed benchmark legislation on such politically difficult issues as de-Baathification, amnesty, the budget and provincial elections. After boycotting the last round of elections, Sunnis now stand ready to vote by the millions in the provincial elections this autumn. The Iraqi economy is growing at a brisk 7% and inflation is down dramatically.

And, in launching the recent offensive in Basra, Mr. Maliki has demonstrated that he has the political will to take on the Shiite militias and criminal gangs, which he recently condemned as "worse than al Qaeda."

Of course, while the gains we have achieved in Iraq are meaningful and undeniable, so are the challenges ahead. Iraqi Security Forces have grown in number and shown significant improvement, but the Basra operation showed they still have a way to go. Al Qaeda has been badly weakened by the surge, but it still retains a significant foothold in the northern city of Mosul, where Iraqi and coalition forces are involved in a campaign to destroy it.

Most importantly, Iran also continues to wage a vicious and escalating proxy war against the Iraqi government and the U.S. military. The Iranians have American blood on their hands. They are responsible, through the extremist agents they have trained and equipped, for the deaths of hundreds of our men and women in uniform. Increasingly, our fight in Iraq cannot be separated from our larger struggle to prevent the emergence of an Iranian-dominated Middle East.

These continuing threats from Iran and al Qaeda underscore why we believe that decisions about the next steps in Iraq should be determined by the recommendations of Gen. Petraeus, based on conditions on the ground.

It is also why it is imperative to be cautious about the speed and scope of any troop withdrawals in the months ahead, rather than imposing a political timeline for troop withdrawal against the recommendation of our military.

Unable to make the case that the surge has failed, antiwar forces have adopted a new set of talking points, emphasizing the "costs" of our involvement in Iraq, hoping to exploit Americans' current economic anxieties.

Today's antiwar politicians have effectively turned John F. Kennedy's inaugural address on its head, urging Americans to refuse to pay any price, or bear any burden, to assure the survival of liberty. This is wrong. The fact is that America's prosperity at home and security abroad are bound together. We will not fare well in a world in which al Qaeda and Iran can claim that they have defeated us in Iraq and are ascendant.

There is no question the war in Iraq – like the Cold War, World War II and every other conflict we have fought in our history – costs money. But as great as the costs of this struggle have been, so too are the dividends to our national security from a successful outcome, with a functioning, representative Iraqi government and a stabilized Middle East. The costs of abandoning Iraq to our enemies, conversely, would be enormous, not only in dollars, but in human lives and in the security and freedom of our nation.

Indeed, had we followed the path proposed by antiwar groups and retreated in defeat, the war would have been lost, emboldening and empowering violent jihadists for generations to come.

The success we are now achieving also has consequences far beyond Iraq's borders in the larger, global struggle against Islamist extremism. Thanks to the surge, Iraq today is looking increasingly like Osama bin Laden's worst nightmare: an Arab country, in the heart of the Middle East, in which hundreds of thousands of Muslims – both Sunni and Shiite – are rising up and fighting, shoulder to shoulder with American soldiers, against al Qaeda and its hateful ideology.

It is unfortunate that so many opponents of the surge still refuse to acknowledge the gains we have achieved in Iraq. When Gen. Petraeus testifies this week, however, the American people will have a clear choice as we weigh the future of our fight there: between the general who is leading us to victory, and the critics who spent the past year predicting defeat.

Mr. Lieberman is an Independent Democratic senator from Connecticut. Mr. Graham is a Republican senator from South Carolina
Vegard Martinsen
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Angelina Jolie ønsker at USA skal bli i Irak

Innlegg Vegard Martinsen 24 Apr 2008, 08:00

Staying to Help in Iraq
We have finally reached a point where humanitarian assistance, from us and others, can have an impact.

By Angelina Jolie
Thursday, February 28, 2008; 1:15 PM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... inionsbox1

The request is familiar to American ears: "Bring them home."

But in Iraq, where I've just met with American and Iraqi leaders, the phrase carries a different meaning. It does not refer to the departure of U.S. troops, but to the return of the millions of innocent Iraqis who have been driven out of their homes and, in many cases, out of the country.

In the six months since my previous visit to Iraq with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, this humanitarian crisis has not improved. However, during the last week, the United States, UNHCR and the Iraqi government have begun to work together in new and important ways.

We still don't know exactly how many Iraqis have fled their homes, where they've all gone, or how they're managing to survive. Here is what we do know: More than 2 million people are refugees inside their own country -- without homes, jobs and, to a terrible degree, without medicine, food or clean water. Ethnic cleansing and other acts of unspeakable violence have driven them into a vast and very dangerous no-man's land. Many of the survivors huddle in mosques, in abandoned buildings with no electricity, in tents or in one-room huts made of straw and mud. Fifty-eight percent of these internally displaced people are younger than 12 years old.

An additional 2.5 million Iraqis have sought refuge outside Iraq, mainly in Syria and Jordan. But those host countries have reached their limits. Overwhelmed by the refugees they already have, these countries have essentially closed their borders until the international community provides support.

I'm not a security expert, but it doesn't take one to see that Syria and Jordan are carrying an unsustainable burden. They have been excellent hosts, but we can't expect them to care for millions of poor Iraqis indefinitely and without assistance from the U.S. or others. One-sixth of Jordan's population today is Iraqi refugees. The large burden is already causing tension internally.

The Iraqi families I've met on my trips to the region are proud and resilient. They don't want anything from us other than the chance to return to their homes -- or, where those homes have been bombed to the ground or occupied by squatters, to build new ones and get back to their lives. One thing is certain: It will be quite a while before Iraq is ready to absorb more than 4 million refugees and displaced people. But it is not too early to start working on solutions. And last week, there were signs of progress.

In Baghdad, I spoke with Army Gen. David Petraeus about UNHCR's need for security information and protection for its staff as they re-enter Iraq, and I am pleased that he has offered that support. General Petraeus also told me he would support new efforts to address the humanitarian crisis "to the maximum extent possible" -- which leaves me hopeful that more progress can be made.

UNHCR is certainly committed to that. Last week while in Iraq, High Commissioner António Guterres pledged to increase UNHCR's presence there and to work closely with the Iraqi government, both in assessing the conditions required for return and in providing humanitarian relief.

During my trip I also met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has announced the creation of a new committee to oversee issues related to internally displaced people, and a pledge of $40 million to support the effort.

My visit left me even more deeply convinced that we not only have a moral obligation to help displaced Iraqi families, but also a serious, long-term, national security interest in ending this crisis.

Today's humanitarian crisis in Iraq -- and the potential consequences for our national security -- are great. Can the United States afford to gamble that 4 million or more poor and displaced people, in the heart of Middle East, won't explode in violent desperation, sending the whole region into further disorder?

What we cannot afford, in my view, is to squander the progress that has been made. In fact, we should step up our financial and material assistance. UNHCR has appealed for $261 million this year to provide for refugees and internally displaced persons. That is not a small amount of money -- but it is less than the U.S. spends each day to fight the war in Iraq. I would like to call on each of the presidential candidates and congressional leaders to announce a comprehensive refugee plan with a specific timeline and budget as part of their Iraq strategy.

As for the question of whether the surge is working, I can only state what I witnessed: U.N. staff and those of non-governmental organizations seem to feel they have the right set of circumstances to attempt to scale up their programs. And when I asked the troops if they wanted to go home as soon as possible, they said that they miss home but feel invested in Iraq. They have lost many friends and want to be a part of the humanitarian progress they now feel is possible.

It seems to me that now is the moment to address the humanitarian side of this situation. Without the right support, we could miss an opportunity to do some of the good we always stated we intended to do.

Angelina Jolie, an actor, is a UNHCR goodwill ambassador.
Vegard Martinsen
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Innlegg ChristianHovden 09 Mai 2008, 06:57

Stille i Irak for tiden kan man si. Er det bare meg som reagerer på at det har blitt helt tyst i norske medier om dette katastrofe området den siste tiden?
Er det for spennende med nominasjonsvalg i denne ofte alluderte fascist staten, har norske medier helt glemt at vi er anti-amerikanere her til lands eller? Vi må ha vår daglige dose med feilslått amerikansk hegemonisk politikk, samt vår kontinuerlige opprettholdelse av amerikanske stereotyper. Såvidt meg bekjent er ikke en eneste katt svidd av i microbølgeovn på dagesvis der borte, det er i hvert fall ikke rapportert..

Dette kan jo ikke tolkes som annet enn amerikansk success i Irak. La oss se nå hvor sterk harnisk norsk presse kan være i når McCain vinner valget, etter all tiden de har investert i Demokratene.
Innlegg: 381
Registrert: 02 Apr 2004, 13:46
Bosted: Oslo

Innlegg Demian 09 Mai 2008, 07:35

Siste jeg hørte var følgende:

Lederen for al-Qaida i Irak pågrepet
Et sammarbeid mellom irakiske og amerikanske styrker.

Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers?
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Bosted: Oslo

Innlegg Vegard Martinsen 20 Mai 2008, 10:39


The Real Iraq
Michael Yon sees the country, and the war, without ideological blinders

Iraq is where ideologies go to die. Arab nationalism, Baathism, anti-Americanism, al-Qaidism, Donald Rumsfeldism, and Moqtada al-Sadrism have either died there or are dying. Conventional liberal opinion, more or less correct about the foundering American war effort from 2004 to 2006, has been severely bloodied—along with Iraq’s worst insurgent groups and militias—by General David Petraeus’s leadership of the American troop surge. Even post-9/11 fear of Islam has proven unsustainable for those who regularly interact with ordinary Iraqis. Independent journalist Michael Yon, who has spent more time embedded with combat soldiers in Iraq than any other reporter, is a refreshingly unideological analyst of the war. His self-published dispatches have earned him a loyal following around the world, and he has set out to reach even more people with the publication of a terrific new book, Moment of Truth in Iraq.

Yon begins his story in medias res. “We are in trouble, but we have a great general,” he writes on the eve of Arrowhead Ripper, the major battle last summer against al-Qaida’s terrorist army in Baqubah, just north of Baghdad. Iraq was all but lost before the battle, when American forces under Petraeus surged into the capital and beyond. Yon then takes us back in time and to the northern city of Mosul, where Petraeus first proved that he knew how to counter an insurgency by working with the local population and protecting it from killers. Yon spent many months in Mosul embedded with the 1-24th Infantry Regiment, or “Deuce Four,” and his first-person narrative of firefights in the city’s streets and alleys is relentless and gripping.

Despite Petraeus’s early successes in Mosul, the city is now perhaps Iraq’s most violent. It slid back into chaos when the general’s strategy was discontinued after he completed his tour there and before he was appointed the commander of American forces in Iraq. There are no final battles in counterinsurgency warfare, as Yon makes clear, but if there were to be one in Iraq, it most likely would take place in Mosul. Much of Iraq has now been pacified—most famously and astonishingly in the formerly convulsive cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, as well as in Baqubah, most of Baghdad, and regions further south.

Moment of Truth in Iraq isn’t the journalistic equivalent of a war movie, but parts of it could surely be used as the starting point for a screenplay. (Such a film might easily perform better at the box office than Hollywood’s string of gloomy, axe-grinding Iraq flicks have.) Still, Yon’s book isn’t just about explosions and carnage. It’s also about the new counterinsurgency strategy and, more important, the Americans and Iraqis who risk their lives to make it work. When Iraq was degenerating into its worst levels of violence, American soldiers spent too much time behind their bases’ walls, hoping to keep casualties to a minimum and to avoid being seen as occupiers by the Iraqis. Today, they live and work inside Iraq’s cities and neighborhoods, where they tend to be welcomed, if not as liberators then as protectors. Counterinsurgency is as much about nation building and community policing as it is about war making.

“The American soldier is the most dangerous man in the world,” Yon writes, “and the Iraqis had to learn that before they would trust or respect us. But it was when they understood that these great-hearted warriors, who so enjoyed killing the enemy, are even happier helping to build a school or to make a neighborhood safe that we really got their attention.” Images of the despicable abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib have become iconic for many around the world. But anyone who has spent significant time with American troops in Iraq, as I have, will recognize the truth in Yon’s descriptions of U.S. soldiers as usually decent and caring. “There are lots of kitchen accidents in Iraq,” he points out. “Kids get burned. American soldiers can’t take it when they see a kid get burned. If they are in the neighborhood on a mission and they see a burned kid, they will cancel the mission to get the kid to an American aid station, which, technically they shouldn’t be doing.”

Yon is a former Special Forces soldier, and his affection for the grunts in the field is palpable. He takes their honor, courage, duty, and sacrifice seriously in a way that most journalists don’t—and perhaps can’t. At heart, he is as much a soldier as a reporter, but he is neither a propagandist for the U.S. military nor a mouthpiece for its public affairs officers. He nearly got himself thrown out of Iraq for an article in The Weekly Standard challenging some top-level brass for trying to censor media coverage. And he calls out both officers in the field and pundits back home who refuse to admit that all has not always gone according to plan. “Combat soldiers have little patience for less than unvarnished truth,” he writes. “That’s why I spend so much time with infantry.” Nothing makes a mockery of party lines and spin from air-conditioned offices quite like facing snipers, ambushes, and improvised explosive devices in 135-degree heat. Reality is more real in Iraq than almost anywhere else.

But in distant places like Washington, eight time zones away, Iraq is more of an abstraction. There is a left-wing Iraq and a right-wing Iraq, and they only vaguely and occasionally resemble the actual place. Yon will have none of either, which may be why no reporter who has covered the conflict—from any country or for any newspaper or magazine—has managed to convey the truth with such blistering accuracy. “Happy news for the Left was that U.S. soldiers were demoralized and the war was being lost,” he writes. “Happy news for the Right was that there was no insurgency, then no civil war; we always had enough troops, and we were winning hands-down, except for the left-wing lunatics who were trying to unravel it all. They say heroin addicts are happy, too, when they are out of touch with reality.”

Iraq is a tragic, unhappy, and often disturbing place, but it’s less sinister and frightening up close than it is from a distance. That’s because it’s a country striving for normality, whose normal aspects rarely make their way into media reports that highlight violence, mayhem, and failure. On TV, Iraq looks like a nation of masked, gun-toting fanatics, but in person, one finds friendliness, solidarity, and reasonableness amid the chaos. “Just because Iraqis have ‘Allahu Akbar’ on their flag,” Yon writes, “doesn’t mean they’re going to blow up the World Trade Center any more than ‘In God We Trust’ means we’re going to attack Communist China.” “Iraq does not hate America,” he insists. “If they hated us, I’d be urging an immediate troop withdrawal, because there would be no hope of winning this war. If the Iraqis hated us, we would be fighting the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army. Instead, we’re fighting alongside them.”

Yon convincingly argues that the U.S. is winning in Iraq, at least for the moment. “The enemy learned that our people and the Iraqi forces would close in and kill them if they dared stand their ground. This is important: an enemy forced to choose between dying or hiding inevitably loses legitimacy. Legitimacy is essential. Men who must always either run or die are no longer an army and are not going to found a caliphate.” The outcome, though, is still in doubt. If Petraeus’s surge strategy fails or is prematurely short-circuited by Congress, the American and Iraqi forces will almost certainly lose. “Maybe creating a powerful democracy in the Middle East was a foolish reason to go to war,” Yon concludes. “Maybe it was never the reason we went to war. But it is within our grasp now and nearly all the hardest work has been done.” Which makes the present moment the moment of truth in Iraq.
Vegard Martinsen
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Registrert: 07 Sep 2003, 12:07

Innlegg Vegard Martinsen 22 Mai 2008, 11:17

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Re ... 34D6F087B8

Success in Iraq
By Ralph Peters
Thursday, May 22, 2008

DO we still have troops in Iraq? Is there still a conflict over there?
If you rely on the so-called mainstream media, you may have difficulty answering those questions these days. As Iraqi and Coalition forces pile up one success after another, Iraq has magically vanished from the headlines.

Want a real "inconvenient truth?" Progress in Iraq is powerful and accelerating.

But that fact isn't helpful to elite media commissars and cadres determined to decide the presidential race over our heads. How dare our troops win? Even worse, Iraqi troops are winning. Daily.

You won't see that above the fold in The New York Times. And forget the Obama-intoxicated news networks - they've adopted his story line that the clock stopped back in 2003.

To be fair to the quit-Iraq-and-save-the-terrorists media, they have covered a few recent stories from Iraq:

* When a rogue US soldier used a Koran for target practice, journalists pulled out all the stops to turn it into "Abu Ghraib, The Sequel."

Unforgivably, the Army handled the situation well. The "atrocity" didn't get the traction the whorespondents hoped for.

* When a battered, bleeding al Qaeda managed to set off a few bombs targeting Sunni Arabs who'd turned against terror, that, too, received delighted media play.

* As long as Baghdad-based journalists could hope that the joint US-Iraqi move into Sadr City would end disastrously, we were treated to a brief flurry of headlines.

* A few weeks back, we heard about another Iraqi company - 100 or so men - who declined to fight. The story was just delicious, as far as the media were concerned.

Then tragedy struck: As in Basra the month before, absent-without-leave (and hiding in Iran) Muqtada al Sadr quit under pressure from Iraqi and US troops. The missile and mortar attacks on the Green Zone stopped. There's peace in the streets.

Today, Iraqi soldiers, not militia thugs, patrol the lanes of Sadr City, where waste has replaced roadside bombs as the greatest danger to careless footsteps. US advisers and troops support the effort, but Iraq's government has taken another giant step forward in establishing law and order.

My fellow Americans, have you read or seen a single interview with any of the millions of Iraqis in Sadr City or Basra who are thrilled that the gangster militias are gone from their neighborhoods?

Didn't think so. The basic mission of the American media between now and November is to convince you, the voter, that Iraq's still a hopeless mess.

Meanwhile, they've performed yet another amazing magic trick - making Kurdistan disappear.

Remember the Kurds? Our allies in northern Iraq? When last sighted, they were living in peace and building a robust economy with regular elections, burgeoning universities and municipal services that worked.

After Israel, the most livable, decent place in the greater Middle East is Iraqi Kurdistan. Wouldn't want that news getting out.

If the Kurds would only start slaughtering their neighbors and bombing Coalition troops, they might get some attention. Unfortunately, there are no US or allied combat units in Kurdistan for Kurds to bomb. They weren't needed. And (benighted people that they are) the Kurds are pro-American - despite the virulent anti-Kurdish prejudices prevalent in our Saudi-smooching State Department.

Developments just keep getting grimmer for the MoveOn.org fan base in the media. Iraq's Sunni Arabs, who had supported al Qaeda and homegrown insurgents, now support their government and welcome US troops. And, in southern Iraq, the Iranians lost their bid for control to Iraq's government.

Bury those stories on Page 36.

Our troops deserve better. The Iraqis deserve better. You deserve better. The forces of freedom are winning.

Here in the Land of the Free, of course, freedom of the press means the freedom to boycott good news from Iraq. But the truth does have a way of coming out.

The surge worked. Incontestably. Iraqis grew disenchanted with extremism. Our military performed magnificently. More and more Iraqis have stepped up to fight for their own country. The Iraqi economy's taking off. And, for all its faults, the Iraqi legislature has accomplished far more than our own lobbyist-run Congress over the last 18 months.

When Iraq seemed destined to become a huge American embarrassment, our media couldn't get enough of it. Now that Iraq looks like a success in the making, there's a virtual news blackout.

Of course, the front pages need copy. So you can read all you want about the heroic efforts of the Chinese People's Army in the wake of the earthquake.

Tells you all you really need to know about our media: American soldiers bad, Red Chinese troops good.

Is Jane Fonda on her way to the earthquake zone yet?
Vegard Martinsen
Innlegg: 7867
Registrert: 07 Sep 2003, 12:07


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