Good News out of Iraq
The US Military is reporting that Iraqi forces assisted by US Air Support killed 85 militants in a training camp in the vicinity of Lake Tharthar. This is significant for several reasons.
- This is a big win for Iraqi forces. They appear to be beginning to be able to hold their own. Some of the bad guys got away, but more were killed.
- The reports indicate that a large number of foreign Jihadis were killed in the fight. This is good news. The foreign fighters are the most likely to be violent, and the least likely to be convinced to quit fighting integrate into the new government.
- And this is just my assessment here. But, it sounds like a nice intelligence victory too. A camp that held ~100 insurgents had probably been in business for a while, and had remained undiscovered. So how did US/Iraqi forces find it? I'm guessing a HUMINT report. There has been a shift in Iraq since the elections, and I wonder if this has increased the quality of HUMINT reporting that lead to the camp being targeted. This is pure speculation on my part, but it would be nice if I'm right.
Of course, there are people that disagree. Prominent liberal foreign policy blogger Juan Cole is reporting that US forces "stumbled" upon the camp. I would have chosen a different word. Stumbled implies that a patrol randomly finding something like the three stooges stepping in some dog shit. However, all the reporting indicates that this was a raid, deliberately planned and executed.
Juan is also reporting that other media outlets are disputing the US reports. So some reporters go talk to some insurgents, the insurgents tell them a different story, and that's all the proof you need that you need that the US Military is lying. Bastards.
Even if the media did find some insurgents, you have to keep perspective. The insurgents that the reporters talked to probably weren't high ranking and may or may not have had all the story. They probably hadn't been in fight. I'm making that assessment because they weren't dead.
Perspective is key. Its like asking a private about his Brigade's operational planning. He may give you an honest, thorough, and thoughtful answer, but it will be limited only to his perspective which is narrow. Its just like dumb Captains who end up in a joint headquarters. He may have a wide perspective on the war planning, etc. But, he couldn't tell you what close combat is like. He has to read it in a book or a blog just like all the other pogues.
From my point of view, the military is pretty straight forward with the press. The left** has a knee-jerk reaction that makes them reflexively believe that the military is a bunch of lying thugs. I know that's not the case, and I hope my reader(s) understand that too.
The problem with a reflexive belief about military dishonesty is that it casts suspicion on veracity of any and all report. If you reflexively believe that the military is always lying, then how do you even begin to establish a baseline of truth? And if the mainstream media is buying into the "lies", then the left is forced to look for alternative news outlets that reinforce/confirm their worldview. Hey, that sounds a lot like the liberal argument against Fox News.
Regardless of your politics relating to the war, you have to admit that it hasn't turned out like anyone predicted it would. The far left blogosphere spent most of the fall and winter predicting this Vietnam-like quagmire. The Iraqi elections would fail, and the whole place would descend into chaos. We would be forced to withdrawal just like Vietnam.
That could have happened, but through guts, determination, and improvisation the coalition and Iraqis pulled it off. The elections worked, and now things seem to be getting better. The left has yet to admit this and keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think they should have a little more faith in our military to get the job done, regardless of who is president.
Of course, we still have a long way to go. And I'm betting that I end up back in the desert sooner or later, but I'm more optimistic now. Plus, if I go back, there are 85 less assholes to worry about. And that's good news.
** Note: For all my reader(s). I count myself as a liberal, but I have some problems with my side of the political spectrum. Julie and I were talking to a friend the other night about how we always get pigeon-holed by both the right and the left. Because of my professional background in both military and civilian sectors, Republicans automatically think that I'm one of them. Democrats automatically think that I'm some kind of war-mongering GOP asshole like that guy in Central Market the other night who was giving me dirty looks because I was wearing a military t-shirt (yeah, I saw you). Julie is always collateral damage in those assessments because we all know that a wife's political opinions must mirror her husband's, right? I'm a liberal Texan which means that I'm probably considered an extreme right-winger in some areas, but a pinko-commie elsewhere. I can deal with it.