The War: It Ain't Over Till it's Over

We all know that the situation on the ground in Iraq is far from ideal. Earlier this week two more pieces of information were released that proved the Iraq War is still not going well. The Associated Press released the news that 27,564 Iraqi civilians have been killed since 2005, and the Government Accountability Office released a report that said Iraq failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress. Furthermore, anyone and everyone with an audience these days is spouting off about the bleak conditions in Iraq; war protestors are raising their voices, Democrats continue to grumble, and even some military officials are saying the troops are strained. Despite the rhetoric, despite the news, and despite the futile past few years in Iraq, the war is still winnable.

The war is winnable because of the expertise of the United States military and steadfast determination of President George W. Bush. Our troops have proven — even during lengthy tours — that they can rebuild a nation while chasing down Al Qaeda, suppressing a near civil war, and securing cities and provinces like Baghdad, Anbar, and Diyala. President Bush meanwhile continues to push for patience and believes that with time success will ensue. And I agree that this combination — the best soldiers in the world and a supportive Commander in Chief — will, if given time, eventually find a way to win the war. The problem is that most Americans, including me, have been unwilling to give them the time they need to succeed.

Although it has taken longer than we expected and hoped, there has been substantial progress made in Iraq. According to Peter Wehner, the respected reporter from the National Review, Iraq is growing calmer with each passing day. Wehner reports in his recent column that, “total attacks in Iraq are at their lowest levels since August of 2006, sectarian violence has sharply decreased in Baghdad, and huge headway has been made in human intelligence.”

This progress however, is being overshadowed by negative news like the GAO’s report about benchmarks. What we have to realize is that the GAO report is based on a “pass or fail” grading system. Thus, a benchmark with several parts might be considered a failure because one of the three parts failed. So although the GAO considered the benchmark a failure, progress may have in fact been made in that area. This kind of assessment is not only unfair to our troops, but it is confusing for the American voters.

Supporting our troops should never be difficult. But in a time like this — when most people agree the war is failing — we must actually increase our support for the troops and our President. This is the time when they need our backing the most. We may disagree with the war, we may believe the war effort was mismanaged, and we may argue that we should have left Iraq a long time ago, but the fact is that we are there, we are making progress, and thus we cannot give up hope for success.

Reports from the White House came out this week saying that the president would most likely continue to stand by his current war strategy and resist any urge to bring home troops. After his surprise visit to Iraq on Monday, Bush believes his surge policy needs more time to succeed. Although extending the surge for the unforeseen future may seem like the wrong move to most of us, it is important to remember that Bush’s military advisors and the generals on the ground support the move. These men and women are armed with the latest and best information from Iraq and are deeply committed to the health and well being of our soldiers and citizens. Furthermore, we can be rest assured this is not a politically motivated move, for the idea of prolonging this war will only hurt Bush’s party.

Republican lawmakers (especially those up for reelection in 2008), will once again have to choose between two bad options: supporting an unpopular war and president or backing a Democratic withdrawal plan. American voters meanwhile have already made up their mind about this war — they want it to end. So the idea of an extended war surge will only lead to more frustration from the general public, which will result in more losses for the GOP next November.

My point is this, Bush and his administration are focused on winning the war and they believe it can be done. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen quickly, but it will eventually happen. And when it does, it will not only make the Middle East more stable, it will make the West safer. So although President Bush did not listen to the majority of Americans about ending the war sooner instead of later……I will stand by his decision to stick it out — at least for a little while longer.