The Re-Liberation of Iraq
No one could ever accuse Ralph Peters of being a cheerleader. In fact, before General David Petaeus ever landed in Baghdad, it would be a safe characterization to describe Peters at the time as hopeful, but with expectations clearly in check.
Recalling his mood from early this year, it is then particularly reassuring to read Ralph Peters describe what - and who - he sees as he enters Iraq and Baghdad, yet again. He describes Iraq's Re-Liberation today.
How did the general and the troops under his command achieve such rapid progress? He lays out a model: "The Re-Liberation of Iraq," this time from a new wave of oppressors, the terrorists, insurgents and militias.
Petraeus acknowledges the errors made in the early occupation years, stressing, above all, the failure to provide security for the population. We cleaned out the violent actors from one city after another, but failed to stay and set the conditions for political and economic progress. When we left, the bad guys came back - and killed anybody who had cooperated with us.
Now, through the efficient use of American troops and a greatly increased employment of Iraqi forces, we're taking an approach that allows for fighting fiercely when necessary, but which looks beyond the gunfights.
As one example, the general points out that, "When we took down Baquba this time, we had a post-operations plan in place."It's critical to involve the local people immediately and enduringly in shaping long-term outcomes. Petraeus recognizes that there's no one-size-fits-all solution for a country as complex as Iraq, but a series of common emphases have been working well thus far:
Go finish reading Peters' Iraq's Re-Liberation. Encouraging words from a man with no pom-poms.