A HURRICANE smacks the Big Easy again. Back-to- back political
conventions. A surprise VP pick. Russians behaving like Russians...
All too easy to miss the biggest story out of Iraq this year:
Yesterday, security responsibility for once-bloody Anbar Province
officially passed from the US military to the Baghdad government.
Fallujah. Ramadi. Al Qaeda's worst atrocities. Those opposed to the
liberation of Iraq celebrated years of headlines from Anbar.
Then it all changed: We won - and the headlines vanished.
This year, Iraq received a special gift to kick off Ramadan,
Islam's holy month of alternate fasts and feasts: The handover of a
huge, economically resurgent, peaceful province.
More than 12,000 Marines have been withdrawn from Anbar. The
remaining 25,000 US troops are packing up. That means more forces
available for Afghanistan - and more time together for our military families.
The handover also means that 11 of Iraq's 18 provinces are now the
responsibility of the country's long-derided security forces - with two
more provinces scheduled to revert to full Iraqi control by year's end.
Yes, challenges remain in Anbar. The province is overwhelmingly
Sunni, and the Shia-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki will have to avoid clumsy partisanship that could ignite a
new round of Sunni-Shia strife. All parties will have to make
compromises, and inter-communal cooperation isn't deeply embedded in
the local DNA.
But the irrefutable fact is that we did our part - and our troops
did it well. When Anbar appeared to be al Qaeda's turf and its cities
endured ferocious urban combat, our defeatists insisted that victory
was impossible, that Iraq was hopelessly lost.
Imagine how much worse off the Middle East - and the world - would
be today if we'd listened to the quit-and-damn-the-consequences crowd.
Al Qaeda would've won a great strategic victory.
Instead, the terrorists suffered a catastrophic defeat - even more
destructive to their cause than the loss of Afghanistan - when millions
of Iraq's Sunni Arabs turned against them.
Back in the dark days of 2006, both Sens. Barack Obama
and Joe Biden wanted to bail out - to abandon Iraq to terrorists,
militias and the Iranians. Even in 2007, Biden said there was "zero
chance" the surge could succeed.
No matter who wins in November, we Americans must always be
grateful to Sen. John McCain for pushing for the surge that gave Iraqis
the confidence to reject extremism. The media's preferred candidates
were 100 percent wrong.
Even now, Obama shamelessly claims that the surge didn't make any difference, that Iraq turned around because he opposed
the surge. According to the Obama Politburo's rewrite of history, his
"courageous stand" frightened the Iraqis into good behavior.
(One pictures Anbar's leathery sheiks shuddering and crying, "Allah have mercy! Barack Obama is displeased with us! We must shape up!").
Now Obama's line is that, during his brief-as-a-Brazilian-thong visit to Iraq a few months back, he
instructed Gen. David Petraeus on the proper military strategy for the
future - directing the most successful general of our time to shift
troops to Afghanistan.
That's egotism and falsity worthy of a North Korean dictator. Our
military's been discussing a shift of troops to Afghanistan for over a
year. Senator, have you no shame?
On the occasion of the hand-over of a peaceful Anbar to Iraq's
freely elected government, wouldn't it be nice to hear just one leading
Democrat tell our troops, "Thank you - you won"?