The Surge Is Starting To Settle Down Baghdad.

The conditions in Baghdad are rapidly improving because of the surge. In fact, things have gotten so much better, so quickly, that the mainstream is actually writing stories saying that the lack of violence may actually be a troubling sign — which brings us to a Time magazine story called, “Quiet in Baghdad. Too Quiet:

“The silence is eerie. After opening the U.S. Army’s first combat outpost (COP) in Baghdad last month the men of Charlie Company, 2-12 Cavalry, had gotten used to gunfights raging nearby, the crack of bullets passing overhead, and the explosion of rocket-propelled grenades. After all, this was Ghazaliyah, where Sunni insurgents and Shi’a militiamen have battled each other, the Iraqi army and police, and the Americans for months.

In the past week, though, the men have been unnerved by absence of the sounds of war. “It’s been quiet — really, really, quiet,” said Sgt. Sergej Michaud, 24. Michaud has cropped his dark hair nearly to the scalp, and he has a tattoo of a helmeted skull on his left forearm with TANKER printed below. Like many other soldiers at the COP he relishes the chance to drive towards gunfire and separate the combatants in Iraq’s sectarian war. That was routine for his platoon until a few days ago, when the violence suddenly dropped almost to nothing. One soldier said he used to doze off at night by imagining the gunfire was the sound of rain on a tin roof. Now the nights are virtually silent. That’s unusual for any Baghdad neighborhood, and eerie for a notoriously violent place like Ghazaliyah. Gunfights with insurgents and militiamen worry Sgt. Michaud less than figuring out where those enemies have gone. “I have no idea,” he said. “It’s kind of scary. It’s kind of scary.”

Here’s the reality: the surge is working. Violence is plunging, the Iraqis are shouldering a much bigger share of the load, and we have every reason to think that by November of 2007, the Iraqi troops will be ready to take over the front line policing across Iraq.

If that happens, the Iraqis would still need our help with air support, logistics, planning, and in a few other areas, but we would still be able to withdraw a large number of troops and the number of casualties our soldiers were taking would drop through the floor because they wouldn’t be needed to patrol the streets.

Once we get to that point, a stable, democratic Iraq that can handle its own internal security AKA victory, would be within our grasp. On the other hand, if we don’t see long term improvement and the Iraqis can’t handle their own day to day policing by the end of the year, then you can be sure that enough Republicans in Congress will cooperate with the Democrats to pull the funding for the war (Note: I think we should stay in Iraq until we win, but the political reality says at most, Bush has until about the end of this year to make massive progress before Congress cuts him, the troops, and the Iraqis off at the knees).

So, since we’ve already been there for nearly four years, why in the world would we be foolish enough to want to retreat now, at this crucial point? There is no reason for it beyond raw, naked politics and that’s bad for the country. Congress needs to suck it up, show some character for once, and give the troops, American and Iraqi, time to do what they need to do.

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