Too Soon To Give Up: A Report From Iraq

Baghdad, Iraq - On this, my latest trip to Iraq, I have been embedded with the US military on the front lines for the last month, spending about three weeks in Salman Pak (just south of Baghdad) with the 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, from Ft. Benning, GA, and Jeff Emanuelspending another several days near the Turkish and Syrian borders with a US Special Forces team and an Iraqi Police SWAT unit.

As one of the very few journalists (out of the hundreds who come here) who actually spends time out on the real front lines, seeing with my own eyes (and experiencing firsthand) the gunfire, the IEDs, the school openings, the
public clinics, the Concerned Citizens meetings, and the other events of great import - rather than simply sitting in safety and reporting hearsay - I have personally seen evidence that the ‘Surge' is working militarily.

I have also seen, though, how broken and splintered this country really is, and what a difficult - and perhaps impossible - task it will be to rebuild it in a way that accomplishes the US's cratergoal of having "a representative government" which is "at peace with its neighbors" and is "a stable ally in the war on terror."  

Certainly the government and the people must buy into that goal and dedicate themselves to its accomplishment - something which has not fully happened to this point, and something which may in fact never happen.

Having been here multiple times, though, both as a member of the military and as a journalist, and having seen the progress - as clumsy and as maddeningly gradual (and fragile) as it is - it is my opinion that it is far too soon to close the books on the idea of Iraq. More than anything, more time is needed to work for the best possible outcome in this country, and, though it is difficult to be overly optimistic when surrounded by third-world postwar conditions, I believe that a positive outcome has never been more possible - nor more important - here.

This is the case both because of the growing portion of the population which does want peace and stability (and is willing to fight for it), and because, like it or not - and regardless child examof when or why it came to be so - a central front in the War on Terror, against al Qaeda and other extremists, is, in fact, Iraq. Whatever decision we make regarding nation-building in that country, we must, for reasons of our own security and national interest, continue to address the presence there of terrorists whose stated goal is not only middle eastern domination (the establishment of the next ‘Caliphate'), but the eradication of America and Israel, and of our way of life.

I have seen with my own eyes the torture and killing that al Qaeda inflicts on the people of Iraq - and, for those who would draw a moral equivalence between them and the US, or blame us for their action, I must say that, having seen them (and others) in person, no body, when finished, looks the way one dealt with by al Qaeda does. What they do was not "learned" from America, nor made possible by us - but they must be eradicated by us, lest their unspeakable and indescribable brutality spread to other reaches.

soldierIn another two days' time, I will be back out on the front lines again. This time I will be in Baqubah (the place al Qaeda in Iraq declared to be the capitol of their 21st century Caliphate) with the 25th Infantry Division. From there, I'll head back to Baghdad, spending a week with US and Iraqi Special Forces, and then spend three more with the 1-4 Cavalry in western Baghdad, before heading home around the middle of October.

There is a great deal of information which is not getting out to the public in America - primarily because so few are actually on the front lines telling it - and, in my opinion, it is of vital importance that people have access to it so as to make a more informed decision, one way or the other, on the US's involvement here.

That is why I am here at the front, seeing and experiencing events firsthand - so that the stories of the individuals and the events from this war can be accessible to the people back at home.

Hopefully they will choose to use them, so that, whatever they decide to think about Iraq, they can at least do so as a result of accurate and proper information.

Jeff Emanuel, a special operations veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a director of conservative weblog, is currently embedded with the US military on the front lines in Iraq. His mission is 100% funded by reader donations, and his reports can be seen at