Choosing to do the surge was really a profile in courage for George Bush and General Petraeus. After the political passion, sound and fury calms down, I think that GW Bush will enjoy a revaluation, much like Harry Truman, and historians will say that in David Petraeus Bush finally found his general, much like Lincoln and Grant. We forget how dicey it was in 1864 and how close we came to a different result in that conflict and how many of the arguments made today are not new.* War is always hard and it is natural for people to look for faster ways out. Sometimes these short cuts end my being the long way around.
Below – this guy has a sweet seat, but I wonder how fast he can turn his lazy-boy lounger if he gets in trouble. I didn’t see if he had the cup-holder feature.
This recent article from the NYT shows how dicey it was back in 2006. “Expert opinion” said that we had lost. Many people were calling for us to cut our losses and run out. Almost nobody believed the surge would accomplish the stated goals. The easy choice would have been to go along with that conventional wisdom. That would have meant that many of our friends in Iraq would be dead and we would suffer a resurgence of terrorism, but conventional wisdom would have accepted that as regrettable necessity.
BTW – the article I linked is NYT, but that paper remains still defeatist on Iraq, as this editorial shows. Of course, they are already modifying their understanding in the face of objective reality and I think that in the ripeness of time, they also will come around and pretend they always knew the truth.
Below is the signing ceremony with the gaggle of journalists
Today I went to the Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC) ceremony in Ramadi, where we handed authority back the Iraqi authorities in Anbar. Anbar! In 2006 this province was a lost cause. Today our ceremony just marked a milestone on path so well established I doubt that many people will even take notice.
Below – you see that MRAP riding is not very much fun. I try to avoid that seat. I guess he just hopes the gunner didn’t have the burrito at chow.
I would write more re the ceremony, but there isn’t really much to write. I met a lot of my contacts there – saw & was seen. Speeches were long. It was really hot. Iraqis don’t seem to have learned how to organize a good marching band. You would think there would be something like that at an important ceremony, but no. I have included pictures throughout. I would have liked a little more pomp and circumstance, but it was a proud day for the Iraqis and a vindication for us. I guess I am less excited about it because it is anticlimactic. The turnover just made official what we (the Iraqis and us) were doing already.
It is also the first day of Ramadan, so there was no meal with the ceremony. That saved much time for all of us, but there is something about having a meal together that seems to finalize a deal. We all just kind of wandered off and went home. It seemed odd.
BTW2 – A good article re Iraq came out in Foreign Affairs. I recommend you read it at this link.
This is the good line from it: “But if the United States can maintain a substantial force in Iraq through the critical period of the next two to three years, there is now a credible basis for believing that major drawdowns after that can be enabled by success rather than mandated by failure.”
Below – Marines playing volleyball in 110 degree heat. It is a dry heat and there is plenty of water.
Foreign Affairs also has a very good article re general American image and problems at this link.
Below is the Ramadi bend in the river from the back of theCH53
* Follow that link to the 1864 Democratic Party platform.