Thursday, September 13, 2007

Is Petraeus correct that Iraq surge is working?

If you missed my oped in the Detroit News on Thursday, Sept. 13th.....

Is Petraeus correct that Iraq surge is working?
Iraq becomes more stable as U.S. starts winning 'War for Freedom'

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter

Critics whose foreign policy expertise fits on an eco-friendly foreign car's fender allege Iraq is a "bumper sticker war without end." This slogan is false. Finally, if fitfully, this integral theater in our nation's War for Freedom is becoming a free, stable state opposed to terrorism; and the Iraq war is ending because we are winning.

This news was obscured amid the repugnant partisan attempts to spin the congressional testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker as dishonest or erroneous. While it will arrive neither quickly nor cheaply, the truth will emerge as our troops succeed in their mission and start coming home.

Incorporating Crocker's diplomatic initiatives, Petraeus' new counter-insurgency strategy's goal in Iraq is to eradicate insurgents and place reconstruction efforts into local Iraqis' hands. This strategy is succeeding. Due to increased security and economic opportunity, Iraqis are choosing liberty instead of the insurgency.

Iraqi shift to liberty

In his Sept. 7 letter to the Multi-National Force-Iraq, Petraeus stressed the importance of Iraqis' political shift to liberty:

"We are also building momentum in an emerging area of considerable importance -- local reconciliation. Local Iraqi leaders are coming forward, opposing extremists and establishing provisional units of neighborhood security volunteers. With growing government of Iraq support, these volunteers are being integrated into legitimate security institutions to help improve local security. While this concept is playing out differently in various areas across Iraq, it is grounded in a desire shared by increasing numbers of Iraqis -- to oppose extremist elements and their ideologies.

"This is very significant because, as many of you know first hand, extremists cannot survive without the support of the population. The popular rejection of al-Qaida and its ideology has, for example, helped transform Anbar Province this year from one of the most dangerous areas of Iraq to one of the safest. The popular rejection of extremists has helped Coalition and Iraqi Forces take away other areas from al-Qaida as well, and we are seeing a spread of this sentiment in an ever-increasing number of Sunni areas. Now, in fact, we are also seeing a desire to reject extremists emerge in many Shia areas."

Iraqi security participation up

This critical local reconciliation has increased Iraqi participation in their security; hastened the day they will be solely responsible for it; and, as in the early days of American independence, Iraqi local reconciliation will precede, facilitate and dictate national reconciliation. But most important for Americans, Iraqis' local reconciliation is the reason Petraeus proposed commencing troop reductions this month and continuing them through July 2008, when nearly 30,000 of our citizen-soldiers will have departed harm's way for home.

Perversely, critics decry this good news as a "token" political stunt. Demanding our immediate retreat in Iraq, these detractors ascribe their own misdeeds upon others -- namely, playing politics with our troops.

A strategic retreat is a dangerous maneuver for a fighting force, which gets smaller as the advancing enemy grows stronger. When rushed, disaster results, as happened to the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. Petraeus and Crocker refuse to repeat this mistake. Thus, American troop reductions are based upon progress in Iraq, not politics in Washington.

This responsible nexus for our troops' return threatens the radical left because it mutes its propaganda claims that a "war without end" has somehow already ended in America's defeat. Instead, every American has a concrete "benchmark" to measure our progress to victory in Iraq: witnessing and welcoming the return of our triumphant troops.

True, our troops can't come home quickly enough. No, this does not mean the war is won, as arduous and dangerous work remains. Yes, our nation must vigilantly monitor the facts on the ground to ensure the Iraqis' local political shift to liberty proceeds with requisite speed.

But let those who won't unite behind the cause of victory at least welcome the news that our troops -- because of progress in Iraq -- are coming home with their "mission accomplished." Now that will look good on the grille of a Michigan-made SUV.

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