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What We've Accomplished

Nine months of progress.

4:39 PM, Sep 19, 2007 • By FREDERICK W. KAGAN
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  • The mobilization of the population to engage in sectarian violence stopped almost immediately in January, and has not resumed;
  • Vigilante groups disbanded or stopped fighting;
  • Sectarian violence today is once again conducted almost entirely by extremist groups, but with diminishing effectiveness and local support;
  • Neighborhood groups are now forming, in cooperation with the Coalition and with the Iraqi government, to police and protect their own areas without posing any threat to their neighbors--many are joining or trying to join the legitimate security forces of the Iraqi State;
  • The slide of Iraq toward full-scale civil war has been not only halted, but reversed

The current strategy has failed?


Tell it to the tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have not been killed, wounded, or driven from their homes because the new strategy has reversed the slide toward civil war.

Tell it to the tens of thousands of former insurgents and local people who have volunteered to join the Iraqi Security Forces this year to stop the violence in their country.

Tell it to the shop owners in Baghdad, Ramadi, Fallujah, and Baqubah who spent last winter with shuttered stores hiding from bullets and are now once again selling their wares.

Tell it to the Iraqi children who have started going to school again without fear of being blown up or kidnapped and tortured to death.

Tell it to the Marines, whose own intelligence analyst declared Anbar hopelessly lost this time last year, but who now proudly share credit with Army soldiers for a miraculous recovery in the heart of the Sunni insurgency and al Qaeda base.

Tell it to the leaders of al Qaeda who went from the brink of triumph in December 2006 to abject and humiliating flight in September 2007.

Tell it to the American people, whose belief in the possibility of success in Iraq has steadily grown over the past few months despite all the efforts of war critics to deny reality.

Above all, tell it to our soldiers fighting in Iraq. Tell them that all the hard-fought gains they have won against America's principal foe in the world should be thrown away because some confused or disingenuous leaders over here refuse to recognize them. Tell them that their sacrifices and losses really have all been in vain because some Americans would rather impose defeat on them than continue with a difficult and complex, but successful strategy.

Or, better yet, don't tell them that. Tell them instead that we recognize their accomplishments, mourn their losses, but will remain steadfast in our support for them. Tell them that we will reinforce success rather than throwing it away, and continue to try to win a struggle that is essential to America's security and well-being. Tell them that.

Frederick W. Kagan is a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.