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Preparedness Week: Room Kits

Are We Winning?

I'd have to say the conventional wisdom is, "Of course not."

And then there's yesterday's post from the old Belmont Club, which matches up so nicely with what I've been saying since 2004...

First: apparently the Anbar tribes have quit "playing both sides" and come down on the side of the US. What does that suggest about who tribes think is going to win? And why do they think that? Another commenter at Small Wars Council shrewdly understands, from the apparent progress in Anbar, that the correct interpretation of "changing the rules of engagement" doesn't mean "taking the gloves off" but increasing the degrees of freedom that the commanders in the field are allowed to exercise. Mandatory severity may be just as damaging as compulsory leniency. Perhaps the real lesson of Anbar is to let men on the ground do what they think is right. But the real gem is buried in a link to the blog Talisman Gate, which relates how a Jihadi satellite TV station has gone from broadcasting Islamic Internet attack video to criticizing al-Qaeda.

In September 2004, at the same time the CIA was pronouncing the war unwinnable in leaks to the press, I wrote that:

That is another way of saying: American arrogance, for all we hear about it, does not match the arrogance of the guerrillas. We overthrew a national government that enjoyed some broad support in the Sunni triangle, but we did not try to overthrow the tribes. The insurgents are doing just that, turning the order of daily life upside down.

Which is another way of saying this:

Now consider the example of Fallujah, where this played out in a larger arena.  In Fallujah, the enemy convinced a hostile population that it could lead them to victory.  As a consequence, the people of Fallujah gave themselves over to the leadership of Islamists, trained with them, and believed them when they said that the Marine Corps would be buried there

This, too, was an illusion.  When the Marines and US Cavalry came, the terrorist leadership fled.  The people of Fallujah who had chosen to believe the myth were left to fight alone, and fight they did -- hard, and according to the Fallujah veterans I've talked to, with a deep determination.  In the end, however, they did not survive.

Which, in turn, leads to the broadcasts the Islamist TV is running in Iraq now.  The Belmont Club notes they charge al Qaeda with arousing wrath, and then failing to to protect them -- indeed, running and hiding and letting the men of Anbar take the hit.  It charges them with wanting to overthrow the tribes and everyday life, by installing a "Taliban-like government."

Boys, you've got to have faith.  We're winning this war, just like we've said all along.  As long as we don't surrender and walk away, we will have the victory.  Faith and time are all it's ever needed.

You might also want to read Iraq - Victory and Time, plus the comments, at Grim's Hall.  In it, my co-blogger Joseph W. (and the rest of us, in the comments) wonder at the likely timeframes, the nature of the current insurgency, and the like.