Saturday, September 08, 2007

Iraq at the Crossroads

Michael Yon, embedded with the Troops in Iraq has this to say about the country and the upcoming Petraeus Report:

I am in London today, preparing to fly back to Iraq on 8 September. My plans are to go with the British for a time, then with the American Air Force, and then back with our ground forces. The “big report” on Iraq should be released in a few days. People are likely to make much comment about it–indeed, my next “dispatch” will be about that same report. Already some in the media and in positions of political influence at home are posturing about a report which, if accurate, can only be a reflection of the complex situation on the ground in Iraq.
No one can predict the future, but all who are in a position of authority vis a vis our policy about Iraq should realize that something truly seems to have changed on the ground and momentum forward is accelerating this change. It is possible that fighting will begin to wind down in most areas of the country, as the security gains of the past few months begin to produce more and more of the collateral political, economic and social gains that have been inhibited largely by terror and fear.

And should that occur, we’ll need to decide what our next step will be. If we put our foot on the gas in helping Iraq stand again, Iraq could actually become a strong and firm partner of the United States. But it is equally possible that all the gains made to date will unravel before the eyes of the world, if we point that foot instead toward the door of a premature exit.
But regardless of US election cycles and news fatigue, the timing here will reflect the conditions on the ground. With a premature withdrawal it may only be months before the unraveling begins, but even with our continued presence, it will be years before Iraq can truly stand. It will be years before the Iraqi military is “done.” The Iraqi Army has made tremendous progress, but the task is immense. The commitment should not require all of the resources assembled there now for all of that time, but there is no way around the fact that years are required. If we want Iraq to succeed, we must stick it out. We are succeeding today in Iraq.