First off, it seems that some compelling news comes from Pakistan. While the Administration trots out the specter of Al Qaeda, some in Pakistan are not so sure........
It might have been Al Qaeda, it might have been Al Qaeda operating in concert with some in the Pakistani government (either those loyal to President Musharraf or the Pakistani secret police, the ISI). It is certainly comfortable to those in Washington to say that it was Al Qaeda. This enables them to continue tying it to their never-ending "Global war on Terror". They try to make the case that it is just one more small same piece of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and other places.
I believe we lost a bit of credibility that we were serious about this kind of terrorism, and this part of the world when Osama bin Laden was able to slip away in Tora Bora (and many believe he has taken up permanent residence inside Pakistan, and that there is NO WAY he could be there without the knowledge of the Pakistani government), and we gutted the Afghanistan mission to move on to the war in Iraq (taking away the rebuilding efforts we promised to the Afghani's, leaving them in the lurch once more (the first time being in the late 80's when the Soviets pulled out, leading the country to 20+ years of murderous civil and tribal warfare).
Now, Afghanistan is heating up again in a big way. Many are saying we need to shift emphasis again from Iraq to Afghanistan, because they feel that since the violence has ebbed in Iraq, that war must be over (or at least things are getting better). Never mind that the reason for the surge was to slow the violence to enable political reconciliation which is NOT taking place (see Myth 9 in the link below).
Juan Coles piece, Top Ten Myths about Iraq 2007 should throw a damper on any of those ideas:
Myth number 8 should be particularly paid attention to by those who say that the surge was the reason for the drop in violence in Iraq:
"8. Myth: The US troop surge stopped the civil war that had been raging between Sunni Arabs and Shiites in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
Fact: The civil war in Baghdad escalated during the US troop escalation. Between January, 2007, and July, 2007, Baghdad went from 65% Shiite to 75% Shiite. UN polling among Iraqi refugees in Syria suggests that 78% are from Baghdad and that nearly a million refugees relocated to Syria from Iraq in 2007 alone. This data suggests that over 700,000 residents of Baghdad have fled this city of 6 million during the US 'surge,' or more than 10 percent of the capital's population. Among the primary effects of the 'surge' has been to turn Baghdad into an overwhelmingly Shiite city and to displace hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from the capital."
The simple fact is that we cannot sustain this "empire" forever.
A friend of mine sent me a Michelle Malkin piece this weekend where she talks about how the surge is the greatest thing, and how it worked, and how all the liberal media don't want to give the President any credit, and how those who oppose the war only do it because they hate America, hate President Bush, and hate our troops.
She goes on to lionize a young Lieutenant that was killed in Iraq. This is how she characterizes his death:
"To MoveOn and Democrat leaders and the anti-surge press, he's just another number. Another "victim." Another pawn."
What bothers me most about her and those who believe the way she does is that if you don't support the war, you somehow hate the troops.
It is always interesting to me that to them "supporting the troops" means leaving them, what appears to be indefinitely to face their fate in Iraq, whether it comes from a sniper, an IED, or the infamous "death by causes other than combat".
As I've asked in this blog ad nauseum where is the Grand Unified Theory of what it means to "win" in Iraq? What does a victory in Iraq look like? When do the troops get to come home? Is that ever part of their plan?
I want them to answer these questions. In the Malkin piece there were no such answers. Of course, there never are. The truth is, I believe they don't want the the war to end. Perpetual war = perpetual power.
At the rate the Iraqi's are going, they may NEVER politically reconcile. How long can we stay there with that not happening?
To Malkin and her Malkin-tents these questions do not matter. The troops will stay in Iraq till they say they can come home and we are damn good and ready to bring them home. And, their families and friends (not to mention the troops) should not question the mission at all. And if they happen to die or get maimed or dismembered, they can say that they sacrificed for the glory of the mission.
And if the traitorous ones complain, they get the "phony soldiers" treatment (giving credit to Keith O.), ala "Radio Comedian Rush Limbaugh".
Meanwhile, what was once the finest Army in the world is being ground down by attrition to a hollower force every day. Meanwhile, a "tsunami" of veterans are coming back seriously broken and maimed in mind, body and spirit, and taxing the system not prepared to deal with what was supposed to have been a "cakewalk". Meanwhile domestic issues like infrastructure, health care and poverty issues are taking a serious beating.
How much more are we going to sacrifice before we wake up?