Saturday, October 25, 2008


A stunning report from Iraq by Major General John Kelly, Commanding General Multinational Force-West, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). On Thursday, October 23, he spoke via satellite to reporters at the Pentagon. Hat tip Tom The Redhunter:

Excerpt from the transcript:

GEN. KELLY: ...We started a share-the-road program where no longer would Iraqi traffic have to do anything particularly different when they came upon military convoys. That was a big change. Moved most of our convoys -- I think something on the order of 95 percent of all military movements, administrative, logistics movements, and that includes the contract convoys -- they all move late at night, certainly after 21:00 or 9:00 at night and they're off the roads by 5:00 a.m. The average Iraqi, of course, is home in bed in at that particular point in time, so they don't even see much traffic, much military activity in the province anymore.
We started to tear down literally hundreds of checkpoints, particularly the ones that had -- certainly were once very necessary as defensive positions all over the province but no longer serve the purpose. And it was kind of an operation Rudy Giuliani that we did to clean up the cities and to, as I say, take down these unsightly defensive positions, roll up the barbed wire in this attempt to convince the average Iraqi that the good news of reduced -- significantly reduced security over the last couple years -- correction, violence -- was real and even the Marines, even the coalition forces felt confident enough to allow them to travel on their own roads around us without having to stop, pull over, be under the threat of any type of gunfire and, at the same time, to break down these defensive positions.

We did PIC on the first of September. That has gone very well. We're still very much engaged but in overwatch with the Iraqi security forces. We are outside the cities, for all intents and purposes -- not to say that we don't go in frequently, to meet with them, to bring training to them.

We still have Marines and some U.S. Army soldiers as police advisers that still live inside police stations, but down to a very small number in comparison. We were up over 115; now we're down below 30. And that's -- the good news is, we are backing out. They're on their own and all we're doing is providing them training.

Even in the area of funding, we have probably in April started to shift away from the U.S. -- the use of U.S. money; as much as we could, started to rely on government of Iraq funding. It's a little harder or more frustrating because the U.S. CERP money, as I think you all know, is -- you know, we can use that in a relative sense, in a lightning quick way, but that doesn't teach the Iraqis how to budget and how to execute a budget, so we really started backing off on the use of money that I have, U.S. money, and forcing -- not forcing them, but teaching them, working with them, to use their own money. And that's turned out very well...

To be sure, by "Bush Strategy Vindicated" I meant his staunch decision to push through The Surge. If the advice of the infamous Iraq Study Group had been followed, the "re-deployment" would likely have developed in a rout, Al-Qaeda and the sadrists would have gotten a tremendous moral boost and retaken or completely established control of the parts vacated by US troops, and every gain that would have been made in the past five years would have been obliterated. America's standing in the world would have been tarnished beyond repair, and its credibility would lay in tatters. Once again, like after Somalia, islamic terrorists would have an argument to boast that Americans don't have the stomach to fight.

Credit for devising the Surge Plan must go largely to general Keane. Credit for implementing it in the field to General Petraus. But credit for forcing the plan through must go unequivocally to President Bush. President Bush is the prime reason why today, America is victorous in Iraq. It is just as important to underscore the fact that the Iraq withdrawal option was strongly advocated by senator Barack Obama. If his advice had been followed, the ominous scenario described above would today... be reality. Senator Obama grandiously failed his first Foreign Policy Test, which is probably why we hear nothing from it.

Amazing stories of progress can be found on the website of Multi National Force-West. It pays to check them out. Of course, anno 2008 it is still far too early to assess whether the US's schedule of implementing democracy in the Middle East will eventually lead to that region, and by extension the muslim world, picking up in the mainstream of forward moving democracies. The Middle East has been a hellhole ever since World War II, and even before that. Maybe, just maybe, the seeds of democracy planted at such a cost in Iraq will lead some day to the arab world coming to terms with its small neighbor, the country of Israel. Maybe the conflict that has jeopardized the west's energy supply for decades will thus become a thing of the past. It's still a big maybe. But then, if this hadn't been tried, one would never have known whether it could have worked. Generations of western diplomats have devoted lives and careers to try to hammer sense in arab and muslim heads and get them to accept the existence in their midst of a sliver of 0.5% of the arab world with 6 million jews on it... all to no avail. The Bush Administration's grand strategy marked the Great Turning Away from a ridiculous, decadelong policy of useless negotiations. The end result still isn't clear, and it is still too early to tell whether it will work. It's just that it takes people with PhD's to not understand that.


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