I keep hearing the news, talk show hosts, pundits and full on anti-war fruits talking about how Iraq is a stalemate, or worse ... that we are losing. Of course, most of these people have never actually been to Iraq to witness the grind. Nor have they spoken at length with a significant number of military personel with the first-hand knowledge to properly dictate reality to them. I am all for a switch to a more aggressive strategy over there, but that is not the topic for this column.
So what exactly is a stalemate? The dictionary defines stalemate as: any position or situation in which no action can be taken or progress made; deadlock. Do any of us really think that there is NO progress at all whatsoever in Iraq. That's ridiculous, and everyone should know it. Afterall, the daily press stories, as negative as they are, still point to success. Even if these successes are relatively minor ... they still count. Call me what you will, but I believe that our soldiers playing soccer in the streets of Al- Anbar with Iraqi children IS progress. Especially since they couldn't do so a few months back.
Since there is progress in parts of Iraq, even if it's not as much as we'd like to see, clearly we don't have a stalemate. So are we losing then? Again I will turn to the trusted dictionary for the answer. The dictionary defines losing in many ways, but the most universal definition of losing is: to suffer defeat or fail to win, as in a contest, race, or game. Have we suffered a defeat? Not yet we haven't, and the idea that we have is so juvenile and pathetic ... anyone who makes that statement should be cast aside as the garbage they are. Is our military being defeated on the battlefield - no. Is the enemy succeeding in gaining more support from the Iraqi population than our side is - no. Are the enemy's policies in Iraq more successful than our own - no. Perhaps these questions are unfair ... so I'll ask another. Are the jihadists having more success than the coalition, as a whole, in Iraq? That question is more than fair, and may only be answered one way ... by telling the truth. Of course they aren't having more success than we are! Therefore, how can we be losing? Since there is progress for one side in the conflict ... there is NO stalemate, and since our side in the conflict is having more success than the other ... we aren't losing. The only other option is that we ARE winning. Yeah ... we're winning!
The jihadis are having success in one aspect of this war, however. They should be given full credit for all they've been able to accomplish, but they have had plenty of help. Defenselink.mil had an interesting article that was gallantly ignored by virtually everyone, but it wasn't really news ... it was only a Marine bashing the unbalanced reporting of the Main Stream Media.
September 26, 2006
Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
A Marine corporal quizzed top leaders at a recent Pentagon employees question-and-answer session about what the department can do to counter the reporting of negative news from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Negativity in the press is absolutely detrimental to the morale of our forces and our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cpl. John A. Stukins said to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a Sept. 22 town hall meeting.
What are we doing to confront this problem and to better the morale of our forces over there -- not only over there, but here as well? asked Stukins, a 23-year-old administrative specialist from Lafayette, La., who works with the Marine Staff at the Pentagon.
In a later interview with American Forces Press Service, Stukins said he believes U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is the right thing to do.
Basically, (its) somebody speaking ill of your sacrifice, the corporal said, as well as compounding the suffering of friends, spouses and relatives of the deceased.
Stukins says hes a firm believer in freedom of speech as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitutions Bill of Rights. But, I also have the right to respect your right to be wrong, he said.
The U.S. military is doing a great job fighting terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, Stukins said. But, he stressed, things would be better if people could see the good things that are going on over there and not hear all about the bad.
You can find the full article here.
Move along ... nothing to see here. This is nothing new, and is only the latest episode of Iraqi Freedom veterans, and other military personel, publicly stating their discontent with media coverage. Remember when Matt Lauer got owned by Capt. Sherman Powell? Lauer had asked Capt. Powell what he would say to people back home who doubted that morale was high in Iraq. Capt. Powell responded by saying: "Well sir, I'd tell you, if I got my news from the newspapers I'd be pretty depressed as well." Then there's Sgt. Seavey and Gen. Wagner countering the myth of low morale, and the audience of the morning shows demanding more positive news stories from Iraq.
We must remember that the elitists don't think that military personel's informed opinions count. Who could forget Richard Belzer's diatribe about our warriors: ..That's bull---t: ask them! They're not, they don't read twenty newspapers a day. They're under the threat of death every minute. They're not the best people to ask about the war because they're gonna die any second. You know, the soldiers are not scholars, they're not war experts... Just the other day, on my program, I was talking about how I always hear people say they support the troops, but not the war. I pointed out that I found this ironic since the troops support the war. How can you support the troops if you don't support the mission they support? Here is an excerpt from an email I recieved from a listener during that program: "Whether the troops support the mission is irrelevant. They are soldiers, they have given their lives to be ordered, it is up to us to see what laimbrains like you can't see." Guess Belzer wasn't alone in his belief that those who've never served know how to fight a war better than those trained to do so. I read the email on air, and took over an hour of calls from military personel, and their families, ripping on the email.
So what good news out of Iraq is not being reported lately? Some pretty significant developments are being ignored as you read this column ... such as:
October 4, 2006
Several declassified al-Qaida documents -- one discovered after the June 2006 air strike that killed al-Qaida's Iraqi emir, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- strongly suggest al-Qaida's leaders fear they are losing the War on Terror.
On Sept. 18, Iraqi National Security Advisor Muwaffaq al-Rabi released a letter from al-Qaida commander "Atiyah" (a pseudonym) to Zarqawi. West Point's Counter Terrorism Center (ctc.usma.edu) has the letter archived online.
The letter features al-Qaida's usual religious panegyrics, but also contains strong evidence of fear, doubt and impending defeat. It seems five years of continual defeat (and that is what the record is) have shaken the 9-11 certitude of al-Qaida's senior fanatics.
"The path is long and difficult," Atiyah writes, "and the enemy isn't easy, for he is great and numerous, and he can take quite a bit of punishment, as well." Atiyah's assessment seems to be a major change in tune and tone. Previous al-Qaida documents touted the Clinton administration's withdrawal from Somalia as the template for American action.
Atiyah adds that al-Qaida's leaders "wish that they had a way to talk to you (Zarqawi) ... however, they too are occupied with vicious enemies here (presumably in Pakistan). They are also weak, and we ask God that He strengthen them and mend their fractures."
Atiyah tells Zarqawi to contact him via a specific Internet site because of "the disruption that exists and the loss of communications."
Releasing the letter thus reveals a potential source of new intelligence. Weigh that against what it says about the highly restricted lives of al-Qaida's leaders. Their jihadist cave life is dangerous, and their ability to command is severely curbed -- these men are besieged.
Al-Qaida's leaders also fear they are losing the war for hearts and minds. Atiyah senses a souring of "the hearts of the people toward us." Al-Qaida has long sanctioned the murder of Muslim opponents it labels "corrupt" and apostate. However, Atiyah indicates Zarqawi's terror in Iraq has backfired. Atiyah says killing the popular "corrupt" is "against all of the fundamentals of politics and leadership." He warns "against all acts that alienate."
But it may well be too late.
StrategyPage.com and similar websites noticed in mid-2005 that al-Qaida and insurgent mass murder in Iraq had begun to turn Arab Muslim opinion against the terrorists.
September 26, 2006
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, facing growing criticism for the Iraq war at home, is finding leaders in the Balkan region eager to join the battle.
Albanian military officials declared their unequivocal support for America's battle against terrorism. And Montenegro's prime minister said his small country would like to participate in peacekeeping operations.
"Let me declare here, Mr. Secretary, that Albania's armed forces will stay on the side of the American armed forces in Iraq until the mission" is over, said Albanian Defense Minister Fatmir Mediu.
Albania currently has 120 troops in Iraq. "We want to be the real partner to the American armed forces," Mediu added.
Rumsfeld also presented Lt. Gen. Pellumb Qazimi, Albania's outgoing Chief of the General Staff with a Global War on Terrorism medallion, "in appreciation for his country's contribution and steadfast commitment to fighting the global war on terror."
Whether the anti-war crowd likes it or not ... we are adding to the coalition.
I'm not big on polls, but the media is. So why aren't they telling you about a poll of 1,150 Iraqis in Sept. by Program on International Policy Attitudes? That poll shows that 63% of those polled want the U.S. to stay in Iraq a year or longer. Perhaps because it backs up the notion that we aren't in a stalemate, and certainly not losing. This poll also keeps with the news we are getting out of Iraq that Iraqis fear the death squads ... not U.S. troops. We also know that the prisoners at Abu Ghraib want American troops back at the prison. There goes the anti-war fruit's argument that we are torturous monsters, eh? The Iraqi President doesn't seem to want U.S. troops to leave either. Here's what he had to say last month:
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said that the US military presence in Iraq keeps neighbors from invading his country.
"The American presence has always prevented any kind of foreign invasion to Iraq," Talabani said.
"That's one of the main reasons why we think that we need an American presence, even symbolical, in the country to prevent our neighbors attacking us," he said at a forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think thank.
Let's not forget that most U.S. troops interviewed for the now famous 'Zogby Poll' said that Americans who want an immediate withdrawal from Iraq are unpatriotic (question 16). Of course, the media didn't tell you about that question. They also didn't tell you about questions 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 17, 21 or 24, but they sure lambasted you with question 15 ... didn't they? The Army has also had its best recruiting year since 1997 ... not bad considering the negative impression of the military given everyday in the press. So if the anti-war fruits and the terrorists are the only ones who want us out of Iraq, and they are the only ones saying we're in a stalemate or losing ... should we believe them?
October 1, 2006
Coalition forces in Iraq have suddenly received the manpower equivalent of three light infantry divisions. They did not suffer any repercussions in domestic politics as a result, and now have a huge edge over al-Qaeda in al-Anbar province. How did this happen? Tribal leaders in the largely Sunni province on the Syrian border got together and signed an agreement to raise a tribal force of 30,000 fighters to take on foreign fighters and terrorists.
These leaders have thrown in with the central government in Baghdad. This is a decisive blow to al Qaeda, which has been desperately trying to fight off an Iraqi government that is getting stronger by the week. Not only are the 30,000 fighters going to provide more manpower, but these tribal fighters know the province much better than American troops .. or the foreign fighters fighting for al Qaeda. Also, this represents just over 80 percent of the tribes in al-Anbar province now backing the government.
This is just one sign that the tide is turning in favor of the coalition in Iraq. Many of the Sunni leaders have decided that the Shia-dominated Iraqi government is not going away any time soon, nor is the democratic process. As such, the tribal leaders have now decided that it is better to be on their good side rather than to be seen as uncooperative. Constant Arab casualties in al Qaeda attacks .. and al Qaeda's desire for a caliphate .. have not helped matters any, either.
On the other hand, by signing up with the government, these tribal leaders will hasten the construction of government services, and gain something else just as valuable .. the government's gratitude. In essence, the tribal leaders have slowly been won over by a combination of coalition perseverance and al Qaeda strategic ineptness.
If you don't trust Strategy Page ... maybe you trust the Washington Post.
Sunni tribal leaders who have vowed to drive al-Qaeda out of Iraq's most restive province met the Shi'ite premier on Wednesday, marking what Washington hopes will be a breakthrough alliance against militants.
al-Buzayi, a Sunni sheikh from Anbar province who has emerged in recent weeks as a leader of a tribal alliance against Osama bin Laden's followers, said he and about 15 other sheikhs had offered their cooperation to Prime Minister al-Maliki. It was the first time Maliki had met the sheikhs since they pledged to fight al-Qaeda in a meeting at Buzayi's compound in Ramadi, the provincial capital, two weeks ago.
Buzayi confirmed that U.S. and Iraqi forces had killed a senior al-Qaeda figure in Anbar on Tuesday. Khalid Mahal has been described as Qaeda's "emir" in the province although the organisation's precise leadership structure is murky. "He was a very important figure for al-Qaeda and getting rid of him was for the best," Buzayi told Reuters.
Iraqi journalists for Reuters in Ramadi say another figure named Zuhair, seen as a key Qaeda militant and known locally as "The Butcher of Anbar", was killed by tribal gunmen in a car as he walked in one of Ramadi's main commercial streets on Monday. The United States says its 30,000 troops in Anbar -- by far the deadliest province for U.S. forces in Iraq -- cannot defeat the insurgency on their own. Senior commanders say they have been delighted by recent developments in Ramadi.
Just so you know ... Al-Anbar is one of the most violent places in Iraq. The headline news stories about sectarian violence typically mention Al-Anbar. Has the MSM been broadcasting this glorious and monumental shift in the Sunni Triangle? Have the talk show hosts, pundits or even your friends told you about this? The answer is most likely - no. You must ask yourself why you haven't been told about a letter, written by al Qaeda, praying to God to heal their fractures from facing a vicious enemy, and expressing fears of defeat. You must also ask yourself why you haven't been told about 80% of the population of Al-Anbar joining our team. I was told we were losing ... guess not! These are all some pretty significant gains. If you believed we were in a stalemate before ... that stalemate has been broken, and the advantage just shifted to the coalition.
The media consistently fails to tell you about all the little great things in Iraq. There's rarely any mention of the school houses built, children playing with our soldiers, Iraqis wearing the clothes they want or expressing religious freedom for the first time. These stories are bumped from the nightly news, and buried in the middle of the paper ... if mentioned at all. The media also always avoids military criticism of their reporting. If you really want to know what the military thinks of the media, and the anti-war fruits, listen to what LTC Randolph C. White Jr. had to say to graduates at Fort Benning, Georgia.
We have the media ignoring major positive events for our forces, and we have politicians such as Bill Frist (R-TN) calling for talks with the Taliban less than two weeks after NATO reported that the Taliban were in retreat. It's time to stand up and tell them ... enough is enough.