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[casi] Why We Are Winning in Iraq

A reliable source :) Frank Gaffney (Centre for Security Studies)

By Frank J Gaffney Jr. | September 30, 2003

The characterization of the post-war situation in Iraq as a "failure"
- or, even a "miserable" one - has become so frequently and so
vociferously applied that an observer could be forgiven for believing
it is accurate.  It is not.

I have just returned from a trip facilitated by the U.S. military to
Baghdad, Mosul and Tikrit, among other places in Iraq.  The visit
featured in-depth briefings by senior American and Coalition civilian
and military leaders, informal conversations with them and their
subordinates and a chance to interact with a number of Iraqi interim
national, regional and local officials.

Like most others who have had a first-hand chance to take stock of
the situation (to date, executive branch officials and a number of
legislators), I have concluded that - far from a failure - the U.S.-
led effort to consolidate a Free Iraq is on a decided, if still
tentative, trajectory for success.

This conclusion is supported by the following observations:

[1] An improving military situation:  Each of the commanders with
whom our delegation of high-ranking retired U.S. officers and
civilian national security experts met - from the man responsible for
the Iraqi theater, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez on down -
expressed confidence that the military situation in their areas of
responsibility was satisfactory and improving.

To be sure, each was experiencing incidents of various kinds and was
prepared for the possibility of a further intensification of the
fighting in their sectors.  Still, they see evidence of the success
of the Coalition's operations against former regime loyalists in the
latters' increasing reliance upon indirect attacks, involving
improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mortars.

While these strikes often entail some casualties, they do not, in and
of themselves, pose a significant military threat.  Rather, they seem
intended by an enemy on the defensive to show its continued relevance
- in the face of much evidence to the contrary - by bloodying
Coalition forces.  To the extent that such attacks sometimes actually
wind up killing innocent Iraqis instead, they seem to be further
weakening what little support remains even in Sunni-dominated central
Iraq for Saddam Hussein's regime and its operatives.

The relatively recent introduction of foreign fighters, principally
radical Wahhabi and other Islamists crossing into Iraq from Syria,
Iran and Saudi Arabia is another complicating factor.  At present,
however, the numbers of such "mujahedeen" have been too small to
constitute a real security problem.  Whether they will do so in the
future will depend fundamentally on the most important task at hand -
standing up Iraqi security forces - and the Coalition's ability to
support them properly.

[2] An Ever-greater Iraqi "Face":   Civilians in the Coalition
Provisional Authority (CPA) and its military counterparts are seized
with the urgency of recruiting, training and empowering Iraqi
personnel to take responsibility for their country's security.  Real
progress is being made on this front, too.

Specifically, Iraqi police are now patrolling with American forces in
many areas and responding to "112" calls - their newly established
equivalent to the American 911 emergency number.  Iraqis are also
joining a Civil Defense Corps, assuming responsibilities for
protecting pipelines, electrical grids and other high-value assets
and manning border posts.  Their presence has not only freed up
American and other Coalition forces for missions they are better
suited to perform.  The Iraqi "face" presented to their countrymen
has also greatly improved the availability, quantity and quality of
intelligence needed to avert enemy attacks and eliminate those who
would mount them.

[3] Success in Reconstructing Iraq:   Perhaps most importantly, as
the security situation steadily improves, significant achievements
are being made in rebuilding the country.  Critical to these
successes have been the industriousness and innovation of Iraqi
engineers, scientists, technicians and laborers.  For decades, their
skills were largely suppressed - or at least not rewarded - by the
Baathist regime.  Now they are being turned loose, with
transformative effects.

No less important, however, has been the intrepidness of American
officers responsible for the various military regions of Iraq in
identifying and enabling projects that are making a real and rapid
difference in the Iraqi people's lives.  Naturally, the restoration
of Iraq's dilapidated and poorly maintained power, oil, water and
sewage infrastructures have been a primary focus of such efforts.  As
we flew over much of Iraq on successive nights, however, the effects
of work aimed at restoring electricity were palpable as illuminated
cities and towns were visible across the country.

Other, more prosaic, but no less palpable, achievements are also
making a difference.  Roads are being reopened, bridges rebuilt,
schools by the thousands refurbished and equipped with books,
pencils, paper and other necessary educational tools.  Looted
government buildings are getting rapidly overhauled and turned over
to what are, in many cases, elected city councils, mayors and
governors who are earning the confidence and support of their

Absolutely critical to these successes, however, has been something
called the Commanders' Emergency Relief Fund (CERF).  CERF monies
have afforded senior officers the latitude and the wherewithal to
spend tens of millions of dollars - to this point, all of it drawn
from Saddam's frozen assets in the United States or recovered in-
country from the Iraqi regime - to finance or kick-start projects in
their areas of responsibility.

One such commander, Major General David Petraeus, storied commander
of the 101st Airborne, is fond of saying that in Iraq today, "money
is ammunition."  When he was told that it would take $23 million to
restart an immense concrete factory near Mosul, he provided a small
fraction of that amount in seed money from his CERF fund.  To their
credit, the Iraqis were thus able to prime the pump; the plant is now
in business, employing large numbers of Iraqis and producing vast
quantities of a key ingredient in their country's reconstruction.

Unfortunately, Gen. Petraeus and his counterparts are rapidly running
out of such "ammunition."  Haggling over replenishing their CERF
funds, whether in Washington or at Coalition Provisional Authority
headquarters in Baghdad, risks denying these brilliant commanders
their most important resource for consolidating the liberation of
Iraq and lubricating necessary reconciliation among its long-
suffering peoples.

It likely will prove calamitous if new projects like the Mosul cement
factory are not nurtured in the future and grounds thus denied for
hope of further progress - particularly with respect to the
employment of more and more Iraqis and the improvement of their
quality of life.  Even worse would be for projects already launched
to lose their funding, thereby underminingthe trust in America being
so painstakingly restored after our failure to eliminate Saddam
twelve years before.

[4] The Iraqis Can Get By Without the UN:   The situation in Iraq
does not "require" the help of the United Nations.  If anything,
Iraqis we talked to expressed little appetite to have the UN play a
significant role in their country, apart perhaps from facilitating
the provision of humanitarian relief.  As one regional governor put
it, the UN lacks the equipment, the wealth, the power or the
credibility to replace the United States as the midwife for Iraq's
freedom.  Not unreasonably, it appears that the last thing most of
the Iraqi people want is for a nation that has these attributes and
that undertook to liberate them - in the face of persistent UN
opposition - to leave their fate to the tender mercies of those who
supported Saddam's regime.

The possibility that the accomplishments that underpin this guardedly
up-beat assessment could be easily undone at this juncture should not
be allowed to diminish their reality.  Neither should they discourage
us from building quickly upon our success to date.

More than one of our interlocutors - Iraqi, American and allied alike
- impressed upon our delegation that we are in a race against the
clock.  The forces of tyranny (secular or Islamist), of civil strife
and chaos are anxious to defeat us and, by so doing, to deny the
people of Iraq, those of the region and, for that matter, the world,
a very different model of an Arab Muslim nation.

For the next six months to perhaps a year, we have a window of
opportunity to help Iraqis consolidate their freedom and become in
their own way what President Reagan used to call "a shining city on
the hill."  While the costs associated with continuing on the present
trajectory are significant, they pale by comparison with the certain
costs of failure.  We simply cannot afford to permit the liberation
of Iraq to become what surely is not now - a miserable failure.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. formerly held senior positions in the Reagan
Defense Department.  He  is currently the President of the Center for
Security Policy in Washington.

Mark Parkinson

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