How Do We Define Victory In Iraq?
By replacing an aggressive, anti-America, pro-terrorist regime with a democratic society in Iraq that’s capable of handling its own internal security.
But, what about…
The insurgency? We should try to beat them down as much as possible before we leave, but it isn’t necessary to wipe them out before we leave.
Instead, the goal is, and has been, to help the Iraqi security forces become capable of handling their own security. That has been slow going because we had to disband the Sunni dominated Iraqi army and rebuild from scratch, but we’ve made an enormous amount of progress in that regard and are continuing to do so. All over the country, Iraqi troops are working side by side with our military and in some areas, the Iraqis are already with little or no Coalition help.
By early-mid 2006, our effort should bear even more fruit, and we’ll see significant numbers of American troops come home because they’re no longer needed in Iraq.
The Iraqi insurgency may be able to continue to murder people in the streets just like the gangs of Chicago once did, but given that the terrorists hold no territory and are wildly unpopular, we won’t have to worry about them toppling the government.
The Constitution? It doesn’t have to be exactly like ours. In fact, given the Iraqis are a different culture and a different religion, we can be sure that their Constitution will be different as well.
But, whatever they come up with will be fine as long as it’s democratic (and it will be).
Also, keep in mind that there will be a referendum in October and if 2/3rds of the voters in 3 of Iraq’s 18 provinces vote against the Constitution, it doesn’t go into effect. That means the Kurds and Sunnis are capable of blocking the Constitution if they don’t like how it’s set-up.
So the Iraqi people are deciding the basic rules they’re going to live under, just like our ancestors did here in America. That’s how it should be.
US troops? Hopefully, we’ll start to withdraw after the elections and continue to draw down through next summer. Preferably, we’ll have bases there long-term, but if the Iraqi government asks us to leave, we should. The important thing is to get our troops out of the role of “policeman” and let Iraqis handle that. Iraqi troops & policemen, not foreigners, should be the ones handling Iraqi security threats. We’re well on the way towards making that happen.
Things certainly haven’t gone perfectly in Iraq, but we’re going achieve what we set out to achieve: Saddam’s tyrannical regime is gone and a democracy will be left in its place. It hasn’t been easy, but neither was the road to victory in Korea, Germany, or Japan. Still, we will succeed in Iraq, just as we did in Korea, Germany, and Japan and the impact, over time, will be enormous.
Hat tip to Decision ’08 for this post, which inspired this column.