According to the Washington Post, a Marine Corps intelligence report on the situation in Anbar province finds that U.S. troops currently are unable to defeat the insurgency there, and that al Qaeda has become “the dominant organization of influence.” The Post’s report downplays several other findings of the report, however.
First, the report concludes that the rise of al Qaeda in Anbar province is due in part to the conviction of the Sunnis there that they cannot count on the U.S. to remain in Iraq to help protect them from the Shiites (I wonder where they got that idea). Second, the report finds that the presence of U.S. troops in Anbar has had “a real suppressive effect on the insurgency” and that the suffering of “Anbar’s citizens undoubtedly would be far worse now if it was not for the very effective efforts” of U.S. forces (stay tuned for that). Finally, the report suggests that with 15,000 to 20,000 additional troops and more financial assistance, the U.S. could effectively reassert its influence in the province.
Even the Democrats say that our troops should be fighting al Qaeda. Their professed quarrel with our efforts in Iraq is that the struggle there is unrelated to that goal. But with al Qaeda gaining the upper hand in Anbar, that argument is plainly wrong. Thus, I should think that the proper course is not to withdraw — the step the fear of which is fueling al Qaeda’s surge — but to send additional troops to Anbar with which to kill our enemies, protect our supporters among the Sunnis, and perhaps turn the tide.
This should be our top priority, not trying to police Baghdad where al Qaeda apparently is not a major factor.
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