Thursday, December 07, 2006

Iraqi Soldiers React To The Iraqi Study Group

"I'll flee the country as soon as the US leaves." That's the message of several members of the Iraqi military in reaction to the idea of abandoning Iraq to the Islamists, thugs and crooks who are fighting to control it:

The sergeant, dressed in a US Army shirt, bemoaned the intensifying government pressure. He feels that the Americans have taught his men to be a professional, non-sectarian force and political parties are undermining them.

“If we detain Sunni terrorists, many of the Sunnis working for the Government will keep pushing us and our battalion commanders and ask us why you do that. Sometimes they will make a complaint against us. If we do the same thing in Sadr City, they (Shia officials) will make an announcement on television that we are doing the wrong thing and killing innocent people.”

He criticised restrictions placed on troops by the Government which he says means that the Army cannot raid Sunni or Shia mosques being used by militant groups to kill people.

“If their mosque is a Sunni mosque, I can’t do anything about it. If it is a Shia mosque, I can’t do anything about it because the al-Mahdi Army will be mad,” the sergeant said. “I have learnt from the Americans that if there is a place where people are hiding weapons and terrorists even if it’s a place to pray then we do not consider it a place of God anymore.”

Some say that there is no way the West can win in Iraq. It's only going to be chaos and Islamism, no matter what we do. "How can we possibly win," they ask?

Here's how: A professional military with these values and a commitment to the idea of Iraq. That's a realistic, pragmatic way to achieve victory. A professional, non-sectarian military could destroy the militias, fight the insurgents and give moderate Muslims the protection to speak out against the Islamists and promote a modern vision for Islamic nations.

The cut-and-run crowd says a professional, non-Baathist national army will never exist in Iraq. If they're right, the Islamists will win and they will have yet another army in the field to support the Iranian and Syrian militaries. Hezbollah will have a new ally. Islamist terrorists will have more trainers. Iranians nuclear program will have a new customer.

It's hard to imagine a worse outcome.

But what if the cut-and-runners are wrong? What if--it's a crazy idea, I know--but what if the members of the military speaking out in this Times of London article speak for a significant number of Iraqis? What if there are enough Iraqis to wear these uniforms and fight against the Islamists, but they never get the chance because the West won't do the hard word required to give them that chance?

What makes more sense? To surrender in the face of uncertainty, knowing the disastrous outcome, or to come up with a smarter, more effective way to fight, and then keep fighting?