Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What Next? as Iraq Cools...

Iraq soccer celebration
Bagdad Market

Iraqi Children

Almost lost amid the headlines is the clear fact that Iraq seems have turned back from the cliff of total chaos and be headed down the rocky path towards a semi-functioning state. Three esteemed corespondents who have covered war more thoroughly that any one since the days of Ernie Pyle have all signaled that major hostilities have almost ceased. Their comments below:

Michael Yon Calls for a motion!

The war continues to abate in Iraq. Violence is still present, but, of course, Iraq was a relatively violent place long before Coalition forces moved in. I would go so far as to say that barring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What's left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet, the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it's time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over. We won. Which means the Iraqi people won.

Michael J. Totten Seconds it with these qualifications.

I’m reluctant to say “the war has ended,” as he did, but everything else he wrote is undoubtedly true. The war in Iraq is all but over right now, and it will be officially over if the current trends in violence continue their downward slide. That is a mathematical fact.....

What most of us still think of as “war” in Iraq is, at this point, a rough and unfinished peacekeeping mission. Whether it is officially over or not, it has certainly been downgraded to something else, and it’s about time more analysts and observers are willing to say so.

The War in Iraq Is Over. What Next? - Bing West also confirms!

The war I witnessed for more than five years in Iraq is over. In July, there were five American fatalities in Iraq, the lowest since the war began in March 2003. In Mosul recently, I chatted with shopkeepers on the same corner where last January a Humvee was blown apart in front of me. In the Baghdad district of Ghazilia -- where last January snipers controlled streets awash in human waste -- I saw clean streets and soccer games. In Basra, the local British colonel was dining at a restaurant in the center of the bustling city.
But as Iraq stabilizes, Afghanistan and Central Asia rear their ugly heads and pose an even more dangerous challenge. American forces are worn down, NATO, except for a few nations has remains a paper tiger, more concerned with appeasement and how to fund their social programs than confronting long term threats. The recent developments in Georgia, not withstanding, point to a Europe that had the US not had a third of our forces stationed there during the Cold War, would be eating borst and drinking Stoli today. Tom Barnett has is right, we need to sign up China and India at today's prices in order to counter the threats that seem to be inherit in Russian behavior since Peter the Great! 'Locking in China at Today's Prices' and The Long War as a Joint Sino-American Venture

Turning to Afghanistan, the following articles see a rough tough slog ahead.

Stronger US Role Likely in Afghanistan - Gordon Lubold, Christian Science Monitor

'Turmoil in Central Asia' - Olcott and Linn, Wall Street Journal opinion

The Long, Hard Slog - H.D.S. Greenway, Boston Globe opinion

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