William Shawcross, England’s most notable journalist, has an article in today’s London Times titled “It’s no time to quit Iraq — we’re winning.” Shawcross reports from Basra; you should read it all, but here is his conclusion:
Even those who were opposed to the invasion of Iraq should recognise that this is a whole new battle — between the values of a liberal civil society and nihilism, sometimes Islamic but always nihilism.
The coalition training of the Iraqi armed forces is proceeding well. The Iraqi army already has the lead in about 60% of the country. We can soon begin to draw down our troops and turn over more power to provincial authorities.
To do so too fast, just because the war is unpopular at home, would be to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. As Jackson said at the end of his trip, our success in Iraq should not be measured by numbers of troops brought home.
It is much more complex than that. The goal is an independent Iraq with a representative government. Part of that goal is to prevent the most bloody and reactionary gangs of killers from destroying the country — and the future of the Middle East.