It has become obligatory for both pro- and anti-war commentators never to mention the possibility of victory in Iraq. The most that anti-war people will admit is that the surge has gained a temporary military advantage in a war that cannot be won militarily. The most pro-war commentators will claim is that they see the possibility of success, perhaps, maybe, someday, somehow.
But as of Veterans Day 2007, I think one can claim a very real expectation that next year, the world may see a genuine, old-fashioned victory in the Iraq war. In five years, we will have overturned Saddam Hussein's government, killed, captured or driven out almost all al-Qaida terrorists, suppressed the violent Shiite militias, induced the Sunni tribal leaders and their people to shun resistance and send their sons into the army and police and seek peaceful resolution of disputes -- and we will have stood up a multisectarian, tribally inclusive army capable of maintaining the peace that our troops established.
The reports coming out of Iraq the past month suggest we are not yet there -- but almost. As The Washington Times summarized this week: "The Associated Press reported: 'Twilight brings traffic jams to the main shopping district of this once-affluent corner of Baghdad, and hundreds of people stroll past well-stocked vegetable stands, bakeries and butcher shops. To many in Amariyah, it seems little short of a miracle.'" According to The Washington Post: "The number of attacks against U.S. soldiers has fallen to levels not seen since before the February 2006 bombing of a Shi'ite shrine in Samarra that touched off waves of sectarian killing. The death toll for American troops in October fell to 39, the lowest level since March 2006." And on Thursday, The New York Times noted: "American forces have routed Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the Iraqi militant network, from every neighborhood in Baghdad, a top American general said today, allowing American troops involved in the 'surge' to depart as planned." Investor's Business Daily assessed: "Many military analysts -- including some who don't support the war -- have concluded that the U.S. and its allies are on the verge of winning."
Last weekend, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said violence between Sunnis and Shiites has nearly disappeared from Baghdad, with terrorist bombings down 77 percent. This was confirmed by Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of U.S. forces south of the capital: "If we didn't have so many Iraqi people coming forward to help, I'd think this is a flash in the pan. But that's just not the case."
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.