Whether it's the reports of U.S. generals on the ground in Iraq, or pro-Victory adherents in the United States or even former anti-war Democrat politicians who have recently returned from Iraq, three undeniable truths have emerged:
One: Civilian and U.S. troop deaths are down.
Two: Former Sunni opponents are now on our side.
Three: Al Queda is being destroyed.
It seems every day there is more evidence coming from a variety of sources to support those three conclusions. Two of the latest:
Our troops have earned more timeIn press appearances, Congressman Baird has also echoed the sentiments of the New York Times Baghdad Bureau Chief John F. Burns who earlier said that talk of withdrawal would make political reconciliation more difficult.
By Brian Baird, US Congressman (D-WA)
August 24, 2007
...As a Democrat who voted against the war from the outset and who has been frankly critical of the administration and the post-invasion strategy, I am convinced by the evidence that the situation has at long last begun to change substantially for the better. I believe Iraq could have a positive future. Our diplomatic and military leaders in Iraq, their current strategy, and most importantly, our troops and the Iraqi people themselves, deserve our continued support and more time to succeed.
Knowing all this, how can someone who opposed the war now call for continuing the new directions that have been taken in Iraq? The answer is that the people, strategies and facts on the ground have changed for the better and those changes justify changing our position on what should be done.
Our soldiers are reclaiming ground and capturing or killing high-priority targets on a daily basis. Sheiks and tribal groups are uniting to fight against the extremists and have virtually eliminated al-Qaida from certain areas. The Iraqi military and police are making progress in their training, taking more responsibility for bringing the fight to the insurgents and realizing important victories. Businesses and factories that were once closed are being reopened and people are working again. The infrastructure is gradually being repaired and markets are returning to life.
[T]o walk away now from the recent gains would be to lose all the progress that has been purchased at such a dear price in lives and dollars. As one soldier said to me, "We have lost so many good people and invested so much, It just doesn't make sense to quit now when we're finally making progress. I want to go home as much as anyone else, but I want this mission to succeed and I'm willing to do what it takes. I just want to know the people back home know we're making progress and support us."
From a strategic perspective, if we leave now, Iraq is likely to break into even worse sectarian conflict. The extremist regime in Iran will expand its influence in Iraq and elsewhere in the region. Terrorist organizations, the people who cut off the heads of civilians, stone women to death, and preach hatred and intolerance, will be emboldened by our departure. In the ensuing chaos, the courageous Iraqi civilians, soldiers and political leaders who have counted on us will be left to the slaughter. No American who cares about human rights, security and our moral standing in the world can be comfortable letting these things happen.
Our citizens should know that this belief is shared by virtually every national leader in the Middle East. There is also near-unanimity among Iraq's neighbors and regional leaders that partition of Iraq is not an option.
Progress is being made and there is real reason for hope. It would be a tragic waste and lasting strategic blunder to let the hard-fought and important gains slip away, leaving chaos behind to haunt us and our allies for many years to come.
Senator Warners Bad Withdrawal Symptoms
By Ralph Peters, Reporting from Fallujah, Iraq
New York Post
August 25, 2007
...Out here in Anbar Province, al Qaeda did what religion-driven extremists always do eventually - they over-reached, setting the bar so high that nonfanatics couldn't measure up (nor did they want to). The terrorists responded with a campaign of slaughter against their fellow Muslims.
Now the Sunni Arabs who were fighting so bitterly against us are fighting beside us to destroy al Qaeda in Iraq. And the terrorists are going down.
Out here in Anbar Province - long the most troubled in Iraq - the change has come so swiftly and thoroughly that it's dazzling. Marines who were under fire routinely just months ago are now directing their former enemies in battle.
Although this trend has been reported, our battlefield leaders here agree that the magnitude of the shift hasn't registered back home: Al Qaeda is on the verge of a humiliating, devastating strategic defeat - rejected by their fellow Sunni Muslims.
If we don't quit, this will not only be a huge practical win - it'll be the information victory we've been aching for.
No matter what the Middle Eastern media might say, everyone in the Arab and greater Sunni Muslim world will know that al Qaeda was driven out of Iraq by a combination of Muslims and Americans.
Think that would help al Qaeda's recruitment efforts? Even now, the terrorists have to resort to lies about their prospective missions to gain recruits.
With the sixth anniversary of 9/11 approaching, how dare we throw away so great a potential victory over those who attacked our country?
Forget the anti-war nonsense you hear. The truth is that our troops want to continue this struggle. I know. I'm here. And I'm listening to what they have to say. They're confident as never before that we're on the right path.
Should we rob them of their victory now and enhance al Qaeda by giving them a free win? How can we even contemplate quitting now?
I've been sitting down with Iraqis, too - including former enemies. They don't want us to leave. They finally cracked the code. They need us. And although they've got a range of their own goals (not all of them tending toward Jeffersonian democracy), they're unified in their hatred of al Qaeda.
Yesterday I listened as an American officer sought to restrain Iraqi security forces from attacking one of al Qaeda's last strongholds prematurely - the local rage toward al Qaeda goes deeper than any column could communicate.
If our former enemies are willing to kill our enduring enemies, why abandon them?