Kristol Back From Iraq

Rick Moran
Bill Kristol has a must read piece in Time Magazine about his trip to Iraq and his impressions of what is happening on the ground there:
Before going to Iraq, I didn't fully appreciate all the things our military leaders are doing there. Obviously, they're fighting--and doing so more discriminately and effectively than they did in 2003 or 2004. But that's just the beginning. Now that Petraeus and Odierno are pursuing a real counterinsurgency strategy, their subordinate commanders and officers are spending a lot of time engaging the local population in security, political and economic efforts. It's clear from the briefings by colonels and lieutenant colonels at various forward operating bases that they have internalized Petraeus' counterinsurgency doctrine. Occasionally you'll hear a leftover Rumsfeld-era talking point about how our job is to get out of the way and transition everything over to the Iraqis as quickly as possible. And I did see a brigade commander who, when asked by an Iraqi shopkeeper why electricity was so sporadic, replied politely that electric power wasn't his job.

But that was the exception. The rule in Iraq is that brigade and battalion commanders--and even captains and lieutenants--are also taking on responsibilities as diplomats, politicians, development consultants, educators. The limited number of American civilians (and the virtual absence of Europeans) has thrown all the responsibility of nation building--more accurately, community building--on the U.S. military. And rather than complain, the soldiers do it willingly and even cheerfully, and with remarkable competence.
As I mentioned in my post from yesterday, even the Democrats are starting to wake up to the fact that something important is happening in Iraq and that it would be crazy to pull the plug on our efforts just when signs of real, tangible progress are being seen.

But the ultimate question must be to what end is this military progress being made? "Bottom to top" political reform as is being attempted in Anbar and other provinces that have seen the Sunnis switch to our side can only take us so far. The national government of Prime Minister Maliki must come at least halfway, reaching out to the Sunnis in order to involve them in the political life of the nation. Only then, according to the counter-insurgency doctrine being pushed by General Petreaus, can the teeth be pulled from the insurgency and Iraq be given a chance at peace.

Read Kristol's entire piece for some fascinating glimpses into what is going on in Iraq
.
Bill Kristol has a must read piece in Time Magazine about his trip to Iraq and his impressions of what is happening on the ground there:
Before going to Iraq, I didn't fully appreciate all the things our military leaders are doing there. Obviously, they're fighting--and doing so more discriminately and effectively than they did in 2003 or 2004. But that's just the beginning. Now that Petraeus and Odierno are pursuing a real counterinsurgency strategy, their subordinate commanders and officers are spending a lot of time engaging the local population in security, political and economic efforts. It's clear from the briefings by colonels and lieutenant colonels at various forward operating bases that they have internalized Petraeus' counterinsurgency doctrine. Occasionally you'll hear a leftover Rumsfeld-era talking point about how our job is to get out of the way and transition everything over to the Iraqis as quickly as possible. And I did see a brigade commander who, when asked by an Iraqi shopkeeper why electricity was so sporadic, replied politely that electric power wasn't his job.

But that was the exception. The rule in Iraq is that brigade and battalion commanders--and even captains and lieutenants--are also taking on responsibilities as diplomats, politicians, development consultants, educators. The limited number of American civilians (and the virtual absence of Europeans) has thrown all the responsibility of nation building--more accurately, community building--on the U.S. military. And rather than complain, the soldiers do it willingly and even cheerfully, and with remarkable competence.
As I mentioned in my post from yesterday, even the Democrats are starting to wake up to the fact that something important is happening in Iraq and that it would be crazy to pull the plug on our efforts just when signs of real, tangible progress are being seen.

But the ultimate question must be to what end is this military progress being made? "Bottom to top" political reform as is being attempted in Anbar and other provinces that have seen the Sunnis switch to our side can only take us so far. The national government of Prime Minister Maliki must come at least halfway, reaching out to the Sunnis in order to involve them in the political life of the nation. Only then, according to the counter-insurgency doctrine being pushed by General Petreaus, can the teeth be pulled from the insurgency and Iraq be given a chance at peace.

Read Kristol's entire piece for some fascinating glimpses into what is going on in Iraq
.