The original justification for the invasion and occupation of Iraq was the treat of non existent WMD and to rid the world of a dangerous tyrant. Within six months those objectives had been achieved. Of course that was never the real reason - it was a permanent occupation designed to gain control of the oil resources and the AIPAC neocons wanted a US presence to look out for Israel. The administration original plan called for replacing Saddam with a US friendly tyrant, Chalabi. This didn't work out because the Iraqi people didn't want any part of it and of course Chalabi turned out to be an Iranian spy. Since then the justification and the definition of victory has been a moving target shifting as rapidly as conditions on the ground. Today it seems that violence reduced to January 2006 levels is a sign of victory or so says Charles Krauthammer.
It does not have the drama of the Inchon landing or the sweep of the Union comeback in the summer of 1864. But the turnabout of American fortunes in Iraq over the past several months is of equal moment -- a war seemingly lost, now winnable. The violence in Iraq has been dramatically reduced. Political allegiances have been radically reversed. The revival of ordinary life in many cities is palpable. Something important is happening.So the "reduced violence" is a sign the was is "winnable". Of course what is still missing is a definition of "a win".
And what is the reaction of the war critics? Nancy Pelosi stoutly maintains her state of denial, saying this about the war just two weeks ago: "This is not working. . . . We must reverse it." A euphemism for "abandon the field," which is what every Democratic presidential candidate is promising, with variations only in how precipitous to make the retreat.
How do they avoid acknowledging the realities on the ground? By asserting that we have not achieved political benchmarks -- mostly legislative actions by the Baghdad government -- that were set months ago. And that these benchmarks are paramount. And that all the current progress is ultimately vitiated by the absence of centrally legislated national reconciliation.
Many feel that the current lull in violence is just that, a lull. As David Ignatius said the other day:
As a caution against over-enthusiasm about the surge, it's useful to consider what happens in a "draw play" in football. Defensive linemen go charging toward the quarterback, congratulating themselves on evading the blockers, when suddenly the opposing running back races past, and they realize, "Oops! We've been suckered." A Syrian analyst draws a similar picture of what's happening now in Iraq. He notes that former insurgents are regrouping and forming alliances among Sunni and Shiite militias that oppose the United States. "This will be known as the era of deception," warns my Syrian friend.Those who oppose the US occupation within Iraq know the surge must start winding down - they are simply waiting. Over 70% of the Iraqi people consider the US troops to be occupiers not liberators and want them out of their country. The Iraqi government does not want the United Nations to extend the mandate for continued occupation. Can there be any doubt that the current lull is just the eye of the hurricane and not the end of it?
And what about the cost? In addition to the billions of dollars and the thousands of lives we are now losing the war against those who were actually responsible for 911 - al-Qaeda and the Taliban who once again control over 50% of Afghanistan.