Monday, February 27, 2006

The Other Iraq

Victor Davis Hanson is brilliant, as usual, and says what needs to be said, as usual. Here are some samples, but the whole thing is a must read.

Taji, Iraq — Screaming Iraqis and mangled body parts still dominate Americans' nightly two minutes of news from Iraq. And, indeed, Iraq is still a scary place within the Sunni Triangle.

Opposition politicians in the United States charge that our troops don't have enough body protection or heavily armored Humvees - suggesting that our fighters have been almost criminally ignored. On CNN, a journalist laments that a prominent news colleague severely wounded near Taji is emblematic of the mess of the entire American effort.

But Iraq, like all wars, is not static. What was supposedly true on the ground in Iraq in 2003 is not necessarily so in 2006 — in the way that the situation in Europe in 1943 hardly resembled that of May 1945.

Yet while things have changed radically in Iraq, the pessimistic tone of our reporting remains calcified. Little is written about the new Iraqi government, the emergence of the Iraqi security forces or the radically changing role of the American military.

The object of the dinosaur media's reporting is not to present an accurate picture of events to the American public. It is, rather, to present a view of the world tailored to the hopes, dreams, fears and prejudices of the "progressive" elite.

. . .Patience, more than anything, is now needed in Iraq. There are now 10 Iraqi divisions. The newest is the 9th Mechanized Division, at Taji, of Maj. Gen. Bashar Ayoub, trained under the auspices of Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey's officers of the Multinational Security Transition Command.

A Patton-like veteran of three bloody wars, Gen. Bashar Ayoub has fashioned ex nihilo a new division replete with refurbished Soviet T-72 tanks and scores of veteran officers from the old Iraqi army. He plans to take over most of the security of Taji, and was out on the streets with his men even before his division fully materialized.

Two years ago, the conventional wisdom was that we wrongly disbanded the Iraqi army and dumped shoddy equipment on what little we rounded up. Soon the new complaint will no doubt emerge that we have redeployed too many officers from the old corps, and that their brigades appear too lethal in new uniforms, body armor and mechanized vehicles.

It is an amazing thing to behold. Despite all that the enemies of the US and a free Iraq (that would be Sunni Fascist bitter-enders, Osama bin Laden and the Democratic Party and its Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment, otherwise known as the MSM) can do to stop it the process of rebuilding goes on. Like the tortoise plodding around the racetrack the US military just keeps rebuilding things and training a credible Iraqi security force.

Saddam Hussein destroyed Iraq — butchering, traumatizing and dividing 25 million. His baleful legacy is clear from helicopter rides over the sewers of Baghdad or a visit to one of his repugnant palaces where non-potable water pours out of his gold faucets.

But I thought that the Iraqi people were better off under Saddam. Gov. Dean couldn't be wrong could he?

It was nearly an impossible task to remove Saddam Hussein, foster democracy in the heart of the ancient caliphate and restore on a relatively short timetable what took the Husseins three decades to destroy. Meanwhile, all this must be done surrounded by Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia; in the midst of a larger war against Islamic fundamentalism; and while under global scrutiny from a largely hostile audience.

Yet what amazes is not so much the audacity of even thinking the United States could attempt such a thing, but rather that it may just pull it off after all — if only we remain patient.

This is what scares me. "Remaining patient" isn't what the American public does best, or even well.