Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pro-war Marsha speaks out

Courtesy of the Tennessean...

This is not a time to backslide in Iraq

Published: Tuesday, 12/18/07

It has been almost a year since Gen. David Petraeus was sent to Baghdad armed with a temporary increase in manpower (the "surge") and a mandate to reverse the escalating security crisis that seemed sure to cripple the new Iraq.

Now, as the five additional brigades that comprised the surge complete their tours and return home, we can begin to evaluate the results of this effort and consider how best to achieve our long-term strategic goals in Iraq and in the broader Middle East.

Any fair-minded assessment of the security situation must acknowledge that IED attacks, car bombs, suicide bombings and sectarian murders — and the American and Iraqi casualties caused by such atrocities — have all declined precipitously. Observers as diverse as conservative foreign policy think tanks and The New York Times editorial board agree that the security turnaround is both stunning and real.

There is concern in some quarters that the withdrawal of the additional brigades will lead to an unraveling of these gains. It is important to understand that the surge was not just more troops executing the same old strategy. The new counterinsurgency doctrine recognized that before any political, economic, or social progress can be made, Iraqis had to feel secure enough to leave their homes and begin the business of rebuilding their country.

Terrorist groups are reeling

Petraeus spread his forces out in small units to live among and fight beside Iraqi partners throughout the country. Consequently, terrorist groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq and the Jaysh al-Mahdi are reeling. Coalition and Iraqi forces have taken back the neighborhoods and streets of Iraq. Average Iraqis are joining the effort by the thousands and the managerial and professional classes who fled the violence of 2005 and 2006 are returning home.

So how can we maintain this momentum? The goal remains a democratic Iraq that can govern, defend and sustain itself and be an ally in the fight against radical Jihadist terror. As the Iraqi Security Forces grow in capability, it is critically important to accelerate non-military assistance programs.

Progress on four key fronts — security, political reconciliation, economic development and diplomacy — must be made concurrently. Backsliding in any of these areas will endanger the fragile stability so many Americans and Iraqis have worked hard to achieve. In each of these areas, we must have dedicated Iraqi partners willing to put national goals ahead of those of any faction or sect. It is encouraging to see ordinary Iraqis engaging in the political process to put pressure on their leaders to accelerate political reconciliation.

Finally, we should also begin to develop the framework for a long-term relationship with the new Iraq that recognizes our shared goals. The Iraqi people do not want to rely on American forces indefinitely. They look forward just as much as we do to the day that Iraqis can successfully defend their own country. While there is much work to be done, that goal appears much closer today than it did last year.

I must say Marsha seems pretty level-headed in this editorial. No name-calling (liberal leadership, liberal majority, etc etc...maybe because it was meant to be published in an actual newspaper, not just yelled out on the House floor).