5 augustus 2005

We just need to want victory (De andere kijk)

The past few days, 20 US Marines were killed at two incidents near Haditha in Iraq's Anbar province, the sunnis' heartland. Undoubtedly, the media will take the opportunity again to criticize president Bush’s Iraq policy, thus undermining support at home. ‘Coincidentally’, a poll was released, suggesting that the approval rating for Bush’s policy has dropped. The President, sensing the danger, used a speech on Wednesday to rally support.

The violence in recent days in Iraq is a grim reminder of the enemies we face. These terrorists and insurgents will use brutal tactics because they're trying to shake the will of the United States of America. They want us to retreat. They want us, in our compassion for the innocent, to say we're through. That's what they want. They will fail. They do not understand the character and the strength of the United States of America. They do not understand our desire to protect ourselves, to protect our friends, protect our allies, and to spread freedom around the world.
Let's put the death of the marines in perspective. The war in Iraq is basically being fought on three fronts: the military front, the political front and the propaganda front.

At the propaganda front, the recent incidents are a setback, as I said earlier. In his recent video, Al Qaeda’s number 2, Al-Zawahiri repeated the left-wing narrative that the invasion of Iraq has brought terror to London and that Tony Blair is to blame for that and that, unless coalition forces withdraw from Iraq, more death and destruction will come. And Iraq will become another Vietnam quagmire, a meme that also resonates well with the leftist crowd. Al-Zawahiri understands very well that he can’t win unless we don’t want to win, that’s the reason for all the propaganda. For propaganda it is, as if everything would be fine again for Mr Al-Zawahiri if only we would pull out. His and his boss's agenda, as we all know, is much bigger: the re-establishment of the caliphate. You call that too ridiculous to be true? Normally it would be, but they mean it, just like Hitler meant what he said 60 years ago, but it took us too long and too many dead to finally take his word for it. How long, this time, will it take some people and more specifically some media to take the threat seriously?

Western media needs to be honest about what motivates the terrorists. Reporting what they say in their mosques, on their web sites, and in their writings would be a start. And if the left wants to be taken seriously on terrorism, it needs to acknowledge the singular motivation behind al-Qaida and stop sounding like Bin Laden.
But the troubles on the propaganda front obscure the progress being made at the two other fronts.

At the military front, operations are again underway to further penetrate into Anbar province, the sunni heartland. This has already been a long campaign dating back to the siege of Fallujah in November last year. Since May, its intensity has grown, with numerous operations (also check out the map) undertaken along the river Euphrates from Baghdad to the Syrian border aimed at establishing a coalition presence in Anbar, rooting out the “insurgency” and cutting off the inflow of terrorists from Syria.

In the mean time, the training of the Iraqi army, police and other security forces continues. When they have reached sufficient capability, a gradual pull out could begin around mid-2006, at the same time when the next steps in the political process have been taken. This brings me to the third front.

At the political level progress is also being made. The draft constitution will probably be ready by 15 August, then a referendum will be held on it in October and finally new elections for parliament will be held in December. Sunnis representatives are participating in the drafting process and unlike the January elections, sunnis are expected to vote in greater numbers at the end of the year.

Despite the media coverage which only focuses on car bombs or dead GI’s, the big picture and the progress that is – really – being made, is hardly being reported. The fight on all fronts is still long, no doubt about that, but optimism is warranted, if just we want to win.

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