What If They Gave A Civil War and Nobody Came?

As I wrote a few days ago, one of the defining moments in the American Civil War was when half the officer corps resigned their commissions and went south to fight for their new “country.” That’s what happens when you have a real civil war; that’s what didn’t happen in Iraq. Ralph Peters reports from Baghdad:

Among the many positive stories you aren’t being told about Iraq, the media ignored another big one last week: In the wake of the terrorist bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, it was the Iraqi army that kept the peace in the streets.
It’s routinely declared a failure by those who yearn for the new Iraq to fail. But an increasingly capable Iraqi military has been developing while reporters (who never really investigated the issue) wrote it off as hopeless.
What actually happened last week, as the prophets of doom in the media prematurely declared civil war?
* The Iraqi army deployed over 100,000 soldiers to maintain public order. U.S. Forces remained available as a backup, but Iraqi soldiers controlled the streets.
* Iraqi forces behaved with discipline and restraint – as the local sectarian outbreaks fizzled, not one civilian had been killed by an Iraqi soldier.
* Time and again, Iraqi military officers were able to defuse potential confrontations and frustrate terrorist hopes of igniting a religious war.
In the recent flare-up, sectarian issues had not been a problem in a single Iraqi unit.

There’s lots more. Peters concludes:

As I head home after far too short a stay with our wonderful soldiers, I can only offer Post readers my honest assessment:
Serious problems remain. No question about it. We’ll hear more bad news (some of it may even be true). But from my heart I believe that the odds are improving that, decades from now, we’ll look back and see that our sacrifices were worth it. I found Baghdad a city of hope, its citizens determined not to be ruled by terrorists, fanatics, militias or thieves.
We are doing the right thing.
This is a gigantic struggle for indescribably high stakes. We’re trying to help a failing civilization rescue itself, to lift a vast region out of the grip of terror and fanaticism, and to make this troubled world safer for our own citizens. Don’t let anyone tell you we’re failing in Iraq.

One thing that distinguishes Peters from most reporters who comment on Iraq is that Peters actually knows what he’s talking about.

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