Michael Yon: "The War is Winding Down"

There is a lot of information here that I have not teased out further in order to read between the lines (e.g., the Australian forces leaving Iraq, or the fact that Petraeus is being replaced as commander in Iraq by Raymond Odierno). I think the rationale of those events will become clearer. Besides, they are not central to the main equation: AQI is defeated.

Everyone will be discussing what this portends for the coming election. Only G-d knows, and he never leaks information. Take your best guess on that one.

Meanwhile, From Yon’s email this morning —

The trend lines are clear. Iraq war seems to be winding down. At this rate it is entirely conceivable that at the end of 2008 we will be able to say, in good conscience, that the Iraq war has ended.

Of course this is speculation.

Grabbing headlines today is the news that Australia is drawing down it’s forces from Iraq. The Australian military is comprised of some of the finest soldiers in the world. Yet the Australian government’s commitment to the war in Iraq has been militarily insignificant. The loss of the Australian military contingent is strategically irrelevant.

I’m in constant communications with forces on the ground in Iraq. al-Qaeda continues to be hammered into the dirt. The Iraq Army has demonstrated great competence in Sadr City. They are at the fore front of destroying al-Qaeda in Nineveh province.

From his website:
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One of the biggest problems with the Iraq War is that politics has frequently triumphed over truth. For instance, we went into Iraq with shoddy intelligence (at best), no reconstruction plan, and perhaps half as many troops as were required. We refused to admit that an insurgency was growing, until the country collapsed into anarchy and civil war. Now the truth is that Iraq is showing real progress on many fronts: Al Qaeda is being defeated and violence is down and continuing to decrease. As a result, the militias have lost their reason for existence and are getting beaten back or co-opted. Shia, Sunni and Kurds are coming together — although with various stresses — under the national government. If progress continues at this rate, it is very possible that before 2008 is out, we can finally say “the war has ended.”

Yes, likely there still will be some American casualties, but if the violence continues to drop and the Iraqi government consolidates its gains, we will be able, in good conscience, to begin bringing more of our people home. I will be paying very close attention to the words of Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, who is replacing General Petraeus as the overall commander in Iraq.

Whatever we do in Iraq from here forward, we must strive to make better decisions than those made between 2003 and 2006. And one way to achieve that is by making certain that our civilian leaders are fully informed.

To me, “fully informed” means taking whatever the State Department has to say with a very large dose of salt. When the histories are written in the next generation, they will discover how the State Department flunkies present in Baghdad in 2003 did their best to passively disrupt things. They were hoping to get their boy, Kerry, into office, and for that they were willing to sacrifice Iraq for the greater glory of their careers under a Kerry presidency.

All three candidates for President are extremely intelligent, but that doesn’t mean that all three are tracking the truth on the ground in Iraq. Anyone who wants to be President of the United States needs to see Iraq without the distorting lenses of the media or partisan politics. I would be honored to visit Iraq with Senator Obama, Senator Clinton, Senator McCain or any of their Senate colleagues. [my emphasis – D.]

I hereby offer to accompany any Senator to Iraq, whether they are pro-or anti-war, Democrat or Republican. I will make this offer personally to a few select Senators as well. Our conversations during the visit would be on- or off-record, as they wish. Touring Iraq with me, as well as briefings by U.S. officers and meetings with Iraqis, would provide an accurate and nuanced account of the progress and challenges ahead, so that the Senators might have a highly informed perspective on this most critical issue. Our civilian leaders need to make decisions based on the best information available.

The only way to learn what is really going on in Iraq is to go there and listen to our ground commanders, who know what they are doing. Generals Petraeus and Odierno have years of experience in Iraq, and vast knowledge of our efforts there.

But the young soldiers who have done multiple tours in Iraq also have unique and invaluable perspectives as well. These young soldiers have personally witnessed the trajectory of the war shift dramatically, and can articulate those changes in concrete and specific terms. It doesn’t matter if a soldier is only twenty-something. If he or she spent two or three years in the war, that person is likely to have valuable insights.

The best way to understand what is really going on is to listen closely to a wide range of service members who have done multiple tours in Iraq. Some will be negative, some will be positive, but overall I am certain that the vast majority of multi-tour Iraq veterans will testify that there has been great progress, and now there is hope. Combat veterans don’t tolerate happy talk or wishful thinking. They’ll tell you the raw truth as they see it.

Meanwhile, the Code Pink people will be gnashing their teeth over this one. No doubt they will redouble their efforts at home to spin this is a way that harms the US and our troops. Spin away, ladies.

8 thoughts on “Michael Yon: "The War is Winding Down"

  1. The only way I want American involvement in Iraq to end and for the troops to come home would be if the situation in Iraq is well enough for the Iraqi forces to handle it themselves and maintain stability and order in their country.

    After reading the above post, I have greater hope it will happen soon.

  2. The Iraqis will inherit a stable, Islamic tyrannical theocracy to handle as the Coalition forces wind down, thanks to our short-sighted and self-divided and semi-coherent understanding of Islam, Jihad, and the aims of militant, imperialistic Mohammadism.

    Sharia Nation-Building, ho!

  3. Profitsbeard–

    How much did you expect us to learn and how fast did you expect us to learn it?

    What were we to do — continue our flyovers of northern Iraq indefinitely as the Stalin mini-me made his plans for the takeover of surrounding countries?

    Want to give me a better, *realistic* outcome than we achieved given what we were up against and our steep learning curve?

    I will repeat: had it not been for the deliberate perfidy of the State Dept minions in Baghdad in 2003, we’d not have lost as much ground as we did.

    And let’s hear another round of applause for Turkey’s pull-out, which left us with no place to put our troops in the north…

    Considering how much we had going against us, we did all right. No one expected us to be where we are right now as recently as six months ago…

  4. I have been reading Yon, Roggio, Totten, and several others, over the past five years, and the developments in the past two have been remarkable.
    While our forces have been excellent in sending the terrorist to their 72 goats, the politics involved have not been as helpful.
    As for AQ being shredded and crosscut, it is due in great part to the professional military personnel, and to one factor we had no control over. Mohmammed at Iraq The Model, when he said two years ago, that the one thing AQ is really good at, is creating new enemies, was a signal at the time of the “awakening” in Al Anbar. Since then, along with the Petraeus Surge, AQ has been decimated, and the staffing and training of the ISF has advanced dramatically.
    Whoever inherits the situation in Iraq, will not have the same challenges that President Bush has had to contend with.
    I do take exception with one comment by Michael Yon, though. I don’t think characterizing the three Presidential candidates as “extremely intelligent” is very accurate, as I have my own characterizations of each.
    I won’t speculate on what Iraq will look like, or what type of government they will have, once they have taken full control of their sovereignty. All I know is what so many Iraqis, mostly Kurds, have told me, and continue to tell me, and that is they are eternally grateful to the U.S. and President Bush for removing Saddam.
    I have several standing offers to visit the Kurdish region, including an old acquaintance, who is the Secretary to Massoud Barzani, of the KDP. I hope that one day soon I will be able to go.

  5. @no2liberals —

    I do take exception with one comment by Michael Yon, though. I don’t think characterizing the three Presidential candidates as “extremely intelligent” is very accurate, as I have my own characterizations of each.

    Well, he kinda has to say that. Even Mr. Yon has his limits on truth-telling.

    However, five years from now, get him in a nice cozy booth in a bar, have him guzzle a few pints, and I’m sure you’d hear the unvarnished truth.

  6. dymphna,
    I know, I had my tongue in cheek as I typed that. If he wants any of the Senators or candidates to take him up on his offer, he couldn’t be offending them.
    That one comment just sort of leaped out at me.

  7. Dymphna

    With all the noise on the issue, we sometimes can lose track of the the significane of events. A couple days ago I pointed out in in doing a longer term overiew on The Iraq Situation that the recent movement into Sadr City is evidence of a success that is not getting much attention.

    This is an operation the size of the attack on Fullajah in November 2004. That the Iraqi’s are able to launch it pretty much on their own is compelling evidence of a major training success for the Iraqi Army. It was the failure of a similar Iraqi only operation in December 2005-January 2006 that set the events in place that led to the surge. That operation failed because they did not have enough strength and too many of the units were not up to the opposition they faced. With the success of the Iraqi dominated operation in Basra recently it seems that the Iraqi Army has achieved a decent level of maturity.

    Also, since it is hard to tell the players without a score card I made a simple summary of the current situration.

    Militarily, as noted above the original Baathist insurgency is defeated. Al Quida in Iraq is pretty much confined to the Mosul area and fighting to survive. Most of the Sunni groups have sought a separate peace with the Iraqi Government, and the Sadr forces are the last major Shia holdouts.

    But as for predictions, it has been one of those wars.

    Since you can click on my links and see how many predictions I got wrong, I’m not going to make any more.

  8. ” All three candidates for President are extremely intelligent…”

    I simply had to stop reading at that point.

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