We went up to Al Qaim to meet and talk with General Petraeus. Architect of victory – that is what they called General George C. Marshall in World War II. The U.S. victory over the AQI and the insurgency in Iraq had many contributors, but David Petraeus was the architect who put it together. Of course, he would never call himself that. When asked whether the U.S. had defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq, General Petraeus told the media, “You will not find any military leader who will say this … all we can say is al Qaeda is still dangerous.”
I am not going to speak for the General or repeat anything said during the briefing. There are plenty of media interviews and pundits you can read to get that. I just want to say how great it was for me to be a small part of this and add my praise to this great man, who really is the architect of victory in Iraq, even if we still don’t use the V-word.
Last year about this time, the cone-heads were calling him names (remember the moveon.org debacle) and even some respectable politicians were implying that he was lying about conditions in Iraq. He had composure to ignore the hysteria and the courage calmly and competently tell the truth. What a difference a year makes.
Touring the POE
General Petraeus, along with the Al Qaim Mayor, the facility director and assorted dignitaries toured the Port of Entry (POE) at Husaybah. I attended the opening of the POE back in November of last year. There were great hopes and optimistic celebrations of the good times that would come with the commerce coming through the gates. The good times they promised is not what we are seeing today. The Syrians are not allowing much commerce to flow through the POE. Eighteen wheelers do not pass through the POE and we saw no significant traffic in general.
Local officials were unable to explain why, but speculated that the Syrians were satisfied with the traffic coming though POE Waleed to the south or that they wanted to punish the people of Al Qaim for rooting out AQI, but they really didn’t know. The POE director claimed that he had decent relations with his Syrian counterparts, but that they could do nothing to mitigate the problem, since the decisions were made above their pay grades.
I am not sure how much traffic the POE could handle if a lot of traffic actually came through. The whole operation has a kind of Mayberry feel. Everything is clean and pleasant, but it does not have the feeling of a center of activity.