Are we winning in Iraq?

Greg Richards
Nibras Kazimi thinks so. In a piece posted this week called "Jihadist Meltdown" he all but declares victory:
There is always a moment during a raging battle when one side realizes that the field has been won, and the other side collapses in retreat and confusion. The curious thing about the Iraqi insurgency is that this moment has arrived, yet both the victors, in this case the Americans and the Iraqi government, and the losers, Al Qaeda and the other jihadist groups, are reluctant to acknowledge it.

But make no mistake, the battle has been turned and we are witnessing the beginning of a jihadist meltdown.
He develops this argument in some detail in the post. 

Let's review the course of events in Iraq over the last nine months very briefly:
Jun 8, 2006:  Zarkawi killed.  It appears he may have been given up by the Sunnis as part of a settlement.

Jul - Aug, 2006  Violence explodes in Baghdad - operation Together Forward formed to combat it.  If there was a settlement, it collapsed. 

Sep - Oct, 2006  Operation Together Forward fails - U.S. casualties spike in October.

Nov 7, 2006   Democrats take control of Congress

Nov 8, 2006   Donald Rumsfeld resigns

Nov - present  Iraqi dinar and the Iraq Stock Exchange Index begin sustained advances from early November lows

Jan 10, 2007  Bush announces surge strategy

Jan 15, 2007  General Petraeus is appointed commander in Iraq

Mar 8, 2007   General Petraeus' first press conference in Iraq after being there for a month - cautiously optimistic
So far as we can tell, it appears that the opposition undertook its Tet Offensive in the months following Zarkawi's death in an effort to crack American will in the lead-up to the election.  Recall that Tet occurred in the election year of 1968, albeit much earlier in that year. Kazimi has a detailed analysis of the players in the opposition and the forces working on them.  His piece is well worth reading in its entirety.

Is it a coincidence that the Iraqi dinar began its advance just at the time that the United States reorganized its war effort?  I suspect not.  President Bush very likely overdelegated all aspects of the war - planning, strategy and execution - to people who turned out, quite surprisingly, not to be up to their tasks.  It is not to his credit that it took so long for him to see this.  But, then great affairs of state tend not to go smoothly.  How was it possible, for instance, for the powers-that-be to permit the Pacific Fleet to be sunk at anchor when the entire purpose of its being in Pearl Harbor was to protect the country during a period when war raged in both Europe and Asia?  And yet it happened.  And we recovered.

President Bush is very resilient.  If he was slow in seeing the problem, he remained undismayed and he reenergized our strategy with new plans and particularly new leadership.  In General Petraeus he seems to have found someone who believes in the mission and is willing to undertake the effort to succeed at it, something that had - surprisingly - been lacking in our effort up to this time.  It appears that up to now, those in whom Bush had placed confidence saw it as their job to educate him on the virtues of defeat.  He has rejected that education.

The Iraq Stock Exchange Index (ISX) continues to advance, and now, at 27.049 is as high as it has been since early November (27.040), mirroring the advance of the Iraqi dinar.  Why is this significant?  The Iraq Stock Exchange is small and illiquid.  It appears to trade about twice per week.  But it is an open market and gives people an opportunity to vote with their pocketbooks.  The ISX is well below its levels of a year ago, but the trend in recent months, following the worst violence of the war in Baghdad, is up.  What does that tell you? 

It is said that Iraq is the only country in the Middle East with all three great resources - water, oil and arable land.  And a vigorous population.  Quite a combination if the bad guys can be defeated.  And the locals are betting on that outcome, as can be seen in the dinar and the ISX.
Nibras Kazimi thinks so. In a piece posted this week called "Jihadist Meltdown" he all but declares victory:
There is always a moment during a raging battle when one side realizes that the field has been won, and the other side collapses in retreat and confusion. The curious thing about the Iraqi insurgency is that this moment has arrived, yet both the victors, in this case the Americans and the Iraqi government, and the losers, Al Qaeda and the other jihadist groups, are reluctant to acknowledge it.

But make no mistake, the battle has been turned and we are witnessing the beginning of a jihadist meltdown.
He develops this argument in some detail in the post. 

Let's review the course of events in Iraq over the last nine months very briefly:
Jun 8, 2006:  Zarkawi killed.  It appears he may have been given up by the Sunnis as part of a settlement.

Jul - Aug, 2006  Violence explodes in Baghdad - operation Together Forward formed to combat it.  If there was a settlement, it collapsed. 

Sep - Oct, 2006  Operation Together Forward fails - U.S. casualties spike in October.

Nov 7, 2006   Democrats take control of Congress

Nov 8, 2006   Donald Rumsfeld resigns

Nov - present  Iraqi dinar and the Iraq Stock Exchange Index begin sustained advances from early November lows

Jan 10, 2007  Bush announces surge strategy

Jan 15, 2007  General Petraeus is appointed commander in Iraq

Mar 8, 2007   General Petraeus' first press conference in Iraq after being there for a month - cautiously optimistic
So far as we can tell, it appears that the opposition undertook its Tet Offensive in the months following Zarkawi's death in an effort to crack American will in the lead-up to the election.  Recall that Tet occurred in the election year of 1968, albeit much earlier in that year. Kazimi has a detailed analysis of the players in the opposition and the forces working on them.  His piece is well worth reading in its entirety.

Is it a coincidence that the Iraqi dinar began its advance just at the time that the United States reorganized its war effort?  I suspect not.  President Bush very likely overdelegated all aspects of the war - planning, strategy and execution - to people who turned out, quite surprisingly, not to be up to their tasks.  It is not to his credit that it took so long for him to see this.  But, then great affairs of state tend not to go smoothly.  How was it possible, for instance, for the powers-that-be to permit the Pacific Fleet to be sunk at anchor when the entire purpose of its being in Pearl Harbor was to protect the country during a period when war raged in both Europe and Asia?  And yet it happened.  And we recovered.

President Bush is very resilient.  If he was slow in seeing the problem, he remained undismayed and he reenergized our strategy with new plans and particularly new leadership.  In General Petraeus he seems to have found someone who believes in the mission and is willing to undertake the effort to succeed at it, something that had - surprisingly - been lacking in our effort up to this time.  It appears that up to now, those in whom Bush had placed confidence saw it as their job to educate him on the virtues of defeat.  He has rejected that education.

The Iraq Stock Exchange Index (ISX) continues to advance, and now, at 27.049 is as high as it has been since early November (27.040), mirroring the advance of the Iraqi dinar.  Why is this significant?  The Iraq Stock Exchange is small and illiquid.  It appears to trade about twice per week.  But it is an open market and gives people an opportunity to vote with their pocketbooks.  The ISX is well below its levels of a year ago, but the trend in recent months, following the worst violence of the war in Baghdad, is up.  What does that tell you? 

It is said that Iraq is the only country in the Middle East with all three great resources - water, oil and arable land.  And a vigorous population.  Quite a combination if the bad guys can be defeated.  And the locals are betting on that outcome, as can be seen in the dinar and the ISX.