…is very bad, of course. There is nothing good to be said about the death of more than twenty American soldiers. But this is a war, and the way to stop casualties in wartime is to win the war, as my favorite historical figure, Ulysses Grant, understood as well as anyone.
In the meantime, let’s not let a successful attack by our enemy take our eye off the big picture. A major at CENTCOM emails us:
Every time GEN Abizaid returns from the AOR (Area of Responsibility – the geographic area for which CENTCOM is responsible) he is in an upbeat mood. He also describes the difference between what is happening on the ground and what is reported in the news. Many people in the region are not really concerned about Iraq because they know that we will stay and that things will become stable.
I have several ways of describing to people what the situation in Iraq is and how it compares to what they see in the news.
Iraq: Right now, I picture Iraq as a huge ball with many “things” inside going in different directions. But the ball itself is rolling in one direction. It can not be stopped. The “things” inside will eventually begin spinning with the ball. Iraq will have elections and it will be able to secure its own future.
Our relationship to the enemy: We have the enemy down on his back and we are choking him to death. He can still scratch at our arms and draw blood but he can not alter his fate. Only we can relieve him of his doom by letting up. If we stay the course, he will die.
The news we see: If one were to watch the first half of the local news one would see flashing blue lights, flashing red lights, a building on fire, a small plane crash, wrecked vehicles on the side of the road and the grieving family of a shooting victim. With only this input one would think that their city was in utter chaos. But we get to see the weather report, the sports news, the opening of the new hospital and the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new bridge. More importantly, we can get up off the couch, open the front door, step outside and see that chaos does not reign. We can not open the door and see what is going on in Iraq. There are people whose job it is to let us know what is going on but they seem to gravitate to the spectacular rather than the mundane. They are not telling the whole story.
Increasingly, Iraqi newspapers are denouncing the terrorists who try to disrupt next month’s elections. Haider Ajina translated for us an editorial that appeared in the Iraqi newspaper Al-Sabah yesterday. Here are some excerpts:
Those who commit military operations under whatsoever titles, claims or pretexts are clear in their target. This clarity is proved by acts and not words as it is clear enough that slogans and nominations cannot withhold it.
The message is clear by targeting political process at its core; the elections, and then attacking people’s drive of rebuilding the state and authority on democratic bases that embody their will and interest following decades of dictatorship that oppressed people