With everythingthat’shappened in the last week, it’s little wonder that something went largely unnoticed: the U.S. military turned over control of the Anbar province to the people of Iraq.
The New York Times (yes, thatNew York Times) was one of the few outlets to report the terrific news:
On Monday, following a parade on a freshly paved street, American commanders formally returned responsibility for keeping order in Anbar Province, once the heartland of the Sunni insurgency, to the Iraqi Army and police force. The ceremony capped one of the starkest turnabouts in the country since the war began five and a half years ago.
In the past two years, the number of insurgent attacks against Iraqis and Americans in Anbar Province has dropped by more than 90 percent. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown Sunni Arab extremist group that American intelligence agencies have concluded is led by foreigners, has been severely degraded, if not crushed altogether. Since February, as the situation improved, American commanders have cut the number of marines and soldiers here by more than a third, they said.
President Bush summed up this achievement, saying, "Today, Anbar is no longer lost to al Qaeda – it is al Qaeda that lost Anbar. Iraqis – like countless other Muslims across the world – witnessed al Qaeda’s brutality first-hand and rejected it. As a result, Anbar has been transformed and reclaimed by the Iraqi people."
Did you even hear about this story in the mainstream media?
Ralph Peters wrote about this transfer of control in the New York Post, and the thrust of his column is very much the same as this post: that the great news was lost on the political noise dominating the headlines. His column, however, goes one step further and says that the story didn’t get attention because now that the United States is succeeding in Iraq, the biased media want nothing to do with it.
That may very well be the case. After all, how many times have liberal critics of the war asked if conservatives and military leaders could even identify what success might look like? Now that victory is real and lasting success is imminent, the Left has no ground to stand on.
This is an incredible victory for the United States–and, more importantly, for the people of Iraq. Anbar had been the most dangerous and unstable province of Iraq at one point. This victory will undoubtedly become the backbone of the conservative’s case for a renewed commitment to our troops in Iraq–and for staying in Iraq until victory is complete. If good news continues at home and abroad, conservatives might finally have something to get excited about this November.
I’ll leave you with this video, something that my friend Mary Katharine Ham and I put together to honor Capt. Travis Patriquin, a great soldier and communicator. He wrote a simple plan called "How to Win in Al-Anbar" before he was killed Dec. 6, 2006, in Iraq, but his dedication to duty and his vision for success live on: