The United States is now winning the war that two years ago seemed lost. Limited, sometimes sharp fighting and periodic terrorist bombings in Iraq are likely to continue, possibly for years. But the Iraqi government and the U.S. now are able to shift focus from mainly combat to mainly building the fragile beginnings of peace — a transition that many found almost unthinkable as recently as one year ago.They are not, of course, changing their entire script. No, no. "It means the combat phase finally is ending, years past the time when President Bush optimistically declared it had." They were doing so well and then they had to backslide. The AP writers are referring to the Bush speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in which he said, "...major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." The President then said, "And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country." Both statements were true and accurate, but the majority of press folk missed the college lectures on true and accurate.
Despite the occasional bursts of violence, Iraq has reached the point where the insurgents, who once controlled whole cities, no longer have the clout to threaten the viability of the central government.
But now we are unquestionably winning so media types are changing their tune to Yankee Doodle Dandy. The AP is even willing to write that the new focus is
"training the Iraqi army and police, restraining the flow of illicit weaponry from Iran, supporting closer links between Baghdad and local governments, pushing the integration of former insurgents into legitimate government jobs and assisting in rebuilding the economy.Baghdad police chief, Maj. Gen. Ali Hadi Hussein al-Yaseri said of the changes, "Even eight months ago, Baghdad was not today's Baghdad."
Scattered battles go on, especially against al-Qaida holdouts north of Baghdad. But organized resistance, with the steady drumbeat of bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and ambushes that once rocked the capital daily, has all but ceased.
This amounts to more than a lull in the violence. It reflects a fundamental shift in the outlook for the Sunni minority, which held power under Saddam Hussein. They launched the insurgency five years ago. They now are either sidelined or have switched sides to cooperate with the Americans in return for money and political support."
Scattered holdouts were once called "deadenders" by former-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and was excoriated by the AP. In fact, the entire administration was raked over the coals for saying that the resistance was unorganized and the attacks were ill conceived and executed. But, that was before the AP, et al., began their constant drumbeat of defeatism and cheerleader chant of 'run away, run away!' The insurgency gained confidence, strength, and jihadis because of the American press coverage.
A whole passel of problems remain for Iraq to solve and the AP isn't shy about pointing to them: "sectarian rivalries, power struggles within the Sunni and Shiite communities, Kurdish-Arab tensions, corruption. Any one of those could rekindle widespread fighting." However, they also point out the sectarian killings have essentially stopped because of greater security measures and walling off the neighborhoods from each other. And because of all that and more "statistics show violence at a four-year low. The monthly American death toll appears to be at its lowest of the war — four killed in action so far this month as of Friday, compared with 66 in July a year ago. From a daily average of 160 insurgent attacks in July 2007, the average has plummeted to about two dozen a day this month. On Wednesday the nationwide total was 13."
Even regular folks are in the streets and parks enjoying that little something different in the air. "In Baghdad, parks are filled every weekend with families playing and picnicking with their children. That was unthinkable only a year ago, when the first, barely visible signs of a turnaround emerged."
The fighting in Iraq is not over, but it is the end of the post-major military operations. Now begins the peace and freedom for which Americans fought, and died, and lost limbs. It's beginning to appear more and more clearly which side has won. Iraqi and American commanders believe American forces will be needed for another year or two.
The media has conceded defeat for their cause and a win for America. They will be moving on to that other war in Afghanistan and maybe even the score. After all, Europeans are involved in that struggle so we can still lose. Like they say now, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of Europe."
Related 2 minute video with Robert Burns, AP chief military correspondent.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.