General David Petreaus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker's long-anticipated Congressional testimonies this week were edifying on two levels.
First, they told us a lot about the complex and challenging nature of the war in Iraq today. In their presentations, the two men did not simply inform the Congress of the estimable, indeed amazing progress that coalition and Iraqi forces have made over the past several months since the new counterinsurgency surge strategy was adopted. They also highlighted the enormity of the challenges facing the US and their coalition and Iraqi allies as they look to the future of the country.
The two men did not deliver their remarks in isolation. Their appearances on Capitol Hill came against the backdrop of shrill denunciations of Petreaus specifically and the war in Iraq in general. Those denunciations were orchestrated by deep-pocketed left-wing anti-war activists, and by Democratic politicians who apparently march to the beat of the activists' drummers (and bankrollers).
The Left's preemptive condemnations of Petreaus, and the Democratic politicians' continuation of the Left's attacks inside the committee chambers exposed the troubling direction that American politics have taken in the six years that have passed since legislators from both parties stood shoulder to should outside the Capitol building on September 11, 2001, and sang "God Bless America." And as Petreaus and Crocker's reports on the situation in Iraq today and the prospects for Iraq in the future make clear, the Democratic Party's embrace of radicalism has strategic repercussions for the prospects of the war in Iraq and for the future of global security as a whole.
As Ambassador Crocker explained, after 40 years of Ba'athist tyranny, Iraq emerged in 2003 as a traumatized and fractured society that today is still grappling with basic questions regarding its identity and its aspirations. Its ability to come up with reasonable answers to these existential questions is limited by the war now besetting it. The enemy forces battling in Iraq of course seek through force to provide answers to those basic questions - and their answers obviously will not be good ones for Iraq, for the Middle East or for the world.
Petreaus and Crocker explained that in general, the US and its allies face two distinct enemy forces in Iraq today - al-Qaida in Iraq and Iranian-backed Shi'ite forces. As the stunning reversal of the security situation in the al-Qaida infested Anbar province over the past several months shows, US forces have made great progress against the first enemy.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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