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April 15, 2005

Stop The Presses! Good News In WOT!

And it's from [be still my beating heart...] the New York Times:

Two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the American-led military campaign in Iraq is making enough progress in fighting insurgents and training Iraqi security forces to allow the Pentagon to plan for significant troop reductions by early next year, senior commanders and Pentagon officials say.
Senior American officers are wary of declaring success too soon against an insurgency they say still has perhaps 12,000 to 20,000 hard-core fighters, plentiful financing and the ability to change tactics quickly to carry out deadly attacks. But there is a consensus emerging among these top officers and other senior defense officials about several positive developing trends, although each carries a cautionary note.
Attacks on allied forces have dropped to 30 to 40 a day, down from an average daily peak of 140 in the prelude to the Jan. 30 elections but still roughly at the levels of a year ago. Only about half the attacks cause casualties or damage, but on average one or more Americans die in Iraq every day, often from roadside bombs. Thirty-six American troops died there in March, the lowest monthly death toll since 21 died in February 2004.
Attacks now are aimed more at killing Iraqi civilians and security forces, and have been planned with sinister care and timing to take place outside schools, clinics and police stations when large daytime crowds have gathered.

Several top associates of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant whose network has claimed responsibility for many of the most deadly attacks, have been captured or killed in recent weeks. American commanders say it now takes longer for insurgents to regroup and conduct a series of attacks with new tactics, like the one on the night of April 2 against the Abu Ghraib prison that wounded 44 Americans and 13 Iraqi prisoners.

While senior commanders say the insurgency is still mostly driven by Iraqis, small numbers of foreign fighters who carry out most of the suicide bombings are still sneaking into the country, mainly from Syria.

Although top officials declined to attach specific numbers to the troop reductions, others foresaw about a third total reduction in deployed forces:

General Casey has declined to describe the size of any possible troop reductions, but other senior military officials said American force levels in Iraq could drop to around 105,000, or about 13 brigades, by early next year, from the 142,000 now, just over 17 brigades.
Helping the situation is that, as the Iraqi security forces gain more confidence and experience, Iraqi residents have put more trust in them. "We are gaining more victories because people are now cooperating more with us," Maj. Gen. Adnan Thabit, the head of 11,000 Iraqi police commandos and other security forces, said in an interview

It will be a happy day when we bring the last man home from those far away lands. Sadly, there are some who will never return. We will never see them again, except in our dreams when we sleep at night, or in memories of times gone by.

Over at Marine Corps Moms, Deb Conrad writes of anniversaries. Not the kind of anniversary you look forward to, but the kind that leaves you feeling hollow inside; that fills you with an aching sense of loss. As though a yawning chasm suddenly opened up before you, doused the world with suffocating blackness that threatened to swallow up your very soul. Last month was such an anniversary.

I thought I would be over it. But now I know I will never, truly, be over it. That day is when this war became personal for me, and it has never been the same. It can never be the same again. And even though I hate the way my eyes now betray me each time I read of another loss, I am more convinced than ever that we are doing the right thing.

That we must continue to do the right thing.

If only the price weren't so terribly, terribly high. We give of our best, and they are matchless: beyond price.

I hope the world is watching.

Posted by Cassandra at April 15, 2005 07:23 AM

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The price is horribly high, with every one of these amazing men and women that we lose. I believe that the world is watching closely, and the results will continue to bear fruit each day as we go forward.

Posted by: Barb at April 15, 2005 03:46 PM

I hope so, Barb.

I see so many signs of hope, and I do support what we are doing, 100%. It is worth it.

But my God, there are days when I stop and I am just simultaneously appalled and filled with pride at the sheer audaciousness of what we are attempting. And I don't ever want us to stop being the kind of people who dare to stop men like Saddam Hussein. They are still finding mass graves over there.

But at the same time, I don't ever want us to be the kind of people who stop counting the cost. And it is terrible. We can bear it, because we are a great nation, and because these young men and women do this willingly. But it would be awful if we sat here in our comfortable homes, thousands of miles away, and forgot to thank them for all they have endured on our behalf.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 15, 2005 03:55 PM

Forgive me, but they are worth a few tears.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 15, 2005 03:56 PM

When we stopped Slobodan Milosevic all the world's media was a frenzy of congratulatory hagiography of the Nobel-level "peace" initiatives (peace through war?) of Bill Clinton.

And now that Bush tries essentially the identical thing against Saddam Hussein, he's the devil incarnate.

You just can't make up hypocrisy like that, because the imagination scarcely wraps itself around the degree to which some people are so brazenly depraved.

Posted by: Ciggy at April 15, 2005 09:33 PM

Cass - They are indeed worth a few tears... don't apologize.

Posted by: Barb at April 15, 2005 10:01 PM

... And I meant to say - more than a few tears. The best way to honor them is to finish the job right, and keep that vision fresh in our minds.

Posted by: Barb at April 15, 2005 10:02 PM

Of all people, I knew what you meant Barb. I was just feeling foolish for being so emotional about it.

I guess it still takes my breath away at times, how strongly I feel about this. It makes me so angry, but then I stop and think, 'what is so wrong with that - someone should care'. I suppose I'm just surprised at times to find out that that person is me.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 18, 2005 09:35 AM

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