Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Once More

LTC Linda J. M. Holloway, a United States Army Reservist with 22 years experience, is currently serving in Iraq as a Civil Affairs Officer on an ePRT, which stands for Embedded Reconstruction Team, near the town of Haditha. During her many meetings with local Iraqis since the start of her tour in October, 2007, LTC Holloway has realized that "[t]he rebuilding of Iraq is more than just mortar and bricks; it is the rebuilding of people’s lives that have been devastated by the many years of war in Iraq...There is indeed a cry for help and it is the cry of the "War Widows."

And so she started something. And you can help her with it.

It hasn't sunk in to everyone yet, because some have pinned their reputation on the meme of "fiasco and failure," like the U.S. Democrats of 1862 or the British opposition of 1812:

"No man in his senses," said Sir Francis Burdett, " could entertain a hope of the final success of our arms in the Peninsula. Our laurels were great, but barren, and our victories in their effects mere defeats."

But a large and important swath of Iraq has seen a major drop in violence, in part due to the "surge," in part due to the Sunnis turning on al Qaida, and, to a lesser extent, the Shi'ites rejecting the militias.

This is not peace by a long shot, or even success. A lot of it happened without our intention, but that's always the case in a war. What this could be is one of those "end of the beginning" moments. It is not success, but it could clear the path for it. It is success on the tribal level that happens without reference to, or in spite of, the supposed government of that country. For it to be real success, either the government will have to be infected with the same attitudes, or it will have to be replaced, hopefully at the next election. The swerve toward stability can't last unless that happens.

And it can't happen if the American forces suddenly drop out of the picture. Yet every politician, even Bush, is talking about a draw-down of some sort, sensing the voting public has lost the will to advance the cause of the Iraqi people.

Do something. Don't wait for the politicians to lead; they never will. Tens of thousands of our former enemies in Iraq are now working with us. That move was forced on them by the insolent barbarity of the Islamists whom they mistook for their friends. Their friendship with us is so far a matter mostly of convenience. But it can be won in fact if they discover our concern for their lives and futures and our mutual commitment to their prosperity and liberty.

Spirit of America, which I linked above, has done valuable work since the start of the occupation on humanitarian projects in Iraq, reacting to what the military men and women in the country identify as needs and opportunities. In so many cases in the Sunni region, it has cast its seeds on barren soil. Now, however, the seeds might take root.

If you've all but given up on the country, rally what you have left of that original spirit. The sacrifice in this war has touched a few American families intensely and most not at all. Give a little. There's a whole shelf of books written lately by anti-war people describing in excruciating detail how the Sunni Iraqis will never be anything but implacable foes of America. Here's your chance to send them into the remainder bin before the ink is even dry.

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