Republican Senator John McCain and the once Democratic, now Independent Senator Joe Lieberman have co-authored a column today in the WSJ discussing the success of the surge and looking ahead to preserving and deepening the gains made in Iraq. The two men have been the strongest voices in our legislature for actually winning the War in Iraq. Their willingness to stand and be counted has been vindicated by the courage of our soldiers on the ground. This today from the WSJ:
Read the entire article.
It was exactly one year ago tonight, in a televised address to the nation, that President George W. Bush announced his fateful decision to change course in Iraq, and to send five additional U.S. combat brigades there as part of a new counterinsurgency strategy and under the command of a new general, David Petraeus.
At the time of its announcement, the so-called surge was met with deep skepticism by many Americans -- and understandably so.
After years of mismanagement of the war, many people had grave doubts about whether success in Iraq was possible. In Congress, opposition to the surge from antiwar members was swift and severe. They insisted that Iraq was already "lost," and that there was nothing left to do but accept our defeat and retreat.
In fact, they could not have been more wrong. And had we heeded their calls for retreat, Iraq today would be a country in chaos: a failed state in the heart of the Middle East, overrun by al Qaeda and Iran.
Instead, conditions in that country have been utterly transformed from those of a year ago, as a consequence of the surge. Whereas, a year ago, al Qaeda in Iraq was entrenched in Anbar province and Baghdad, now the forces of Islamist extremism are facing their single greatest and most humiliating defeat since the loss of Afghanistan in 2001. Thanks to the surge, the Sunni Arabs who once constituted the insurgency's core of support in Iraq have been empowered to rise up against the suicide bombers and fanatics in their midst -- prompting Osama bin Laden to call them "traitors."
As al Qaeda has been beaten back, violence across the country has dropped dramatically. The number of car bombings, sectarian murders and suicide attacks has been slashed. American casualties have also fallen sharply, decreasing in each of the past four months.
These gains are thrilling but not yet permanent. Political progress has been slow. And although al Qaeda and the other extremists in Iraq have been dealt a critical blow, they will strike back at the Iraqi people and us if we give them the chance, as our generals on the ground continue to warn us.
The question we face, on the first anniversary of the surge, is no longer whether the president's decision a year ago was the right one, or if the counterinsurgency strategy developed by Gen. Petraeus is working. It is.
The question now is where we go from here to sustain the progress we have achieved -- and in particular, how soon can more of our troops come home, based on the success of the surge.
. . . The war for Iraq is not over. The gains we have made can be lost. But thanks to the courage of our troops, the skill and intellect of their battlefield commander, and the steadfastness of our commander in chief, we have at last begun to see the contours of what must remain our objective in this long, hard and absolutely necessary war -- victory.