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. 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.
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.
Whether any Senators take advantage of my offer, I do hope that the presidential candidates visit Iraq, not just for a photo opportunity, but to spend time with our commanders and combat veterans, who know the truth and are not afraid to speak it.
I disagree on just a couple of points:
The intelligence was NOT shoddy. Saddam Hussein was a WMD-wielding, terrorist supporting, megalomaniac. He was just one of the threats to U.S. forces in the region. As an Iraq War vet, I’m damned glad we took out the sonofabitch along with the Al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan.
1) Declassified NGIC report:
2) 1.77 metric tons of enriched uranium:
3) 1,500 gallons of chemical weapons agents:
4) Chemical warheads containing cyclosarin: http://www.bizzyblog.com/PolishChemMunitions070204.html
5) Over 1,000 radioactive materials in powdered form meant for dispersal over populated areas:
6) Roadside bombs loaded with mustard and “conventional” sarin gas, assembled in binary chemical projectiles for maximum potency:
Those weapons were previously unknown to U.N. inspectors.
Terrorist connections: He gave thousands of dollars to families of suicide bombers and in addition, Iraqi intelligence met with al Qadea operatives and provided with training camps in Northern Iraq:
The Mother of All Connections:
From the July 18, 2005 issue: A special report on the new evidence of collaboration between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaeda.
by Stephen F. Hayes & Thomas Joscelyn
The reconstruction was slow in coming (we had to wait unil the fighting subsided) but the infrastructure, to include government and economic, progressed faster than the media gave credit.
The “insurgency” consisted mostly of terrorists coming in from Syria, North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East. In other words, the same places that breed, fund, and train them. The ‘collapse into anarchy and civil war’ that Pelosi, Reid, and company salivated for, never quite took hold.
Don’t hold your breath for a massive turnout of democrats in response to his invitation. Obama, in particular, is not a good prospect for any kind of fairness or support in this war. He’s too busy working for the enemy.
I’ve said this before: They’ve gone from pro-terrorist/defeatist propaganda to scant coverage, to lame excuses, and finally, grudging respect. There’s still a number of them who want to get out of the war on Islamofascism before they finally have to admit we’ve won.
That’s the raw truth as I see it.
And as of this update 18 June, 2008 no one has taken him up on the offer.
Final update: no Senators have taken me up on the offer to act as a tour guide in Iraq, but the offer stands.