Eight weeks after the scenario hit the Web, we should change "could emerge" to "is emerging." Credit the Iraqis with accelerating the process. Operation Charge of the Knights (March-May 2008), which most so-called media experts immediately labeled the "Basra blunder," demonstrated that the Iraqi army's operational capabilities had improved and that the Maliki government could astutely turn security success into political solidification. Iraqi gains mean a significant reduction in coalition combat forces could come by late 2009, with complete Iraqi combat responsibility by late 2010.
So why the irony? Barack Obama wanted to withdraw because Harry Reid and the Democratic Party insisted we'd lost. As "Strategic Overwatch" develops, the United States can begin reducing its combat role because we are winning -- and "we" includes the Iraqis. McCain ought to reap the reward, but given the national media's creampuff treatment of Obama, the next "instant truth" will be "see, we can withdraw."
But before Obama declares peace in our time, consider the "Effect on Region" paragraph. The Iraqis want an alliance. That means Washington must be prepared to back Iraq in a confrontation with Iran. We know McCain can handle that dangerous test. In the maelstrom moment when an Obama-advocated rapid military withdrawal would have devastated the Iraqis, McCain stood firm.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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