A Letter From A Soldier
Comment at end of page
23rd July, 2007
The below is from a serving soldier in the US army
“If we lose in Iraq, it will be because
civilians in America surrendered”
STRATEGY “WORKING IN IRAQ”
I’m still in the US military but not in Iraq right now.
From all accounts, the new counterinsurgency strategy is working. It is based on the British strategy in Malaya (Malaysia). In Al Anbar local sheiks and the population have turned against Al Qaeda because of their brutality. AQ fled to Diyala province from Anbar and Baghdad after the surge started to uptick, but they are being turned in by the locals there as well.
It’s a shame that it has taken us so long to grasp the winning strategy, but I’m not altogether sure that it would have worked earlier. The Sunni insurgents needed time to realize that the old way with Saddam was never coming back and that alternatives with AQ were too horrible to contemplate. They may not like the new status quo, but it is the least bad alternative.
The Shia are still stirred up by Iran, but even they seem tired. I’m afraid if the U.S. leaves the Sunnis will have no choice but use AQ to fight for them against the Shias. It will be a slaughter. (It’s not such a problem in the South because it’s all Shia.)
Shia tribes are fighting the government for supremacy in the South. It’s more about crime and smuggling than insurgency. The IEDs affecting British forces are coming from Iran. British forces insure the rule of law down there and it’s not what the criminals want. (The IEDs are meant to drive you out or at least keep you stuck in your post).
ARMY WINS WHEREVER IT GOES
Everywhere the army goes, it wins. If we lose in Iraq, it will be because civilians in America surrendered, not because the military lost it.
If people care so much for Darfur, I cannot see why they don’t care about the Iraqis. People seem more concerned with the legalistic argument of whether the war was right or wrong, rather than the real effect of leaving on the Iraqi population.
The Malaya counterinsurgency took about 8 years. If we can keep a sizeable force there for another year, I think we’ll see a considerable difference. We are already seeing huge changes now. My fear is that the desperate AQ groups will launch a very bloody Tet Offensive to drive us out sometime before September.
(The Tet Offensive was a last ditch move by the VietCong against American forces in 1968. They lost decisively but it was so bloody that the American public demanded we leave.)
At any rate, I think it’s winnable, that we are winning now and that to leave prematurely would be a disaster. A good blog to read about what is going on day to day is Michael Yon’s.
This soldier’s further comments on British politics:
THE ‘KEEP TONY BLAIR’ BLOG
I understand the time constraints with your blog, but I hope you keep it up. Tony Blair is my hero. Many Americans will never forget how supportive he was immediately after 9/11. (His speech to the Labour party in October that year brought me to tears.)
George Bush is a big believer in loyalty and God knows he owes TB big time. I think the appointment of Blair as Special Envoy was a partial repayment.
Anyway, I’ve visited your blog several times, and thought it was about time I said thank you.
BLAIR’S BREADTH OF AUTHORITY EXPANDABLE?
GWB obviously can’t cut the knees out from under his Secretary of State (and no SOS worth their salt would give up being top dog). I also don’t think the other quartet members would appreciate Blair acting as an agent of the U.S. (I heard Javier Solana didn’t want him appointed [sour grapes from Europe], nor was Russia happy because of Litvinenko).
I think Blair can get away with a lot that isn’t exactly within the 4 corners of his contract. Condi cried over that same Blair speech, so I think they can work very well together. If everybody puts their egos away, I’m hopeful we can get real ME peace rather than another temporary ceasefire.
GREAT BRITISH TROOPS
I’ve followed TB since 2001 and taped most of his speeches (at least the ones I can get in the U.S. or have friends tape).
Gordon Brown is still a mystery. His coup attempt last September was devious (and I loathe those twerps Tom Watson, Sion Simon, et al). We’ll see.
I believe TB and GWB went into Iraq for exactly the reasons they said. Oil could have been bought if that was the sole reason. I’m surprised the left put their hatred of America, GWB & TB before their humanitarian concerns for the Iraqis (except for Nick Cohen, Anne Clwyd and Christopher Hitchens). Unfortunately, they still are. Frankly, if the ‘West’ had maintained a united front against Saddam, he probably could have been removed without a war.
I’m worried for the British troops because they’ve been stretched so thin. Brown has starved the MOD for 10 years. I think I read somewhere that the BBC actually has a bigger budget than the Royal Navy.
It’s a shame because you have such fabulous forces. (I’ve trained with them here).
INTEREST IN BRITISH POLITICS
Before 2001, I could have named William Pitt, Lord North, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher as British prime ministers. I had heard of John Major, but only because he replaced Thatcher. I’ve always been an anglophile (I saved up my after school job money, paid my way to Britain and lived in hostels during the summer of 1988).
Because of TB, I have become very familiar with British politics. (Frankly, it’s a lot more interesting than American politics.) I’ve read all the books on TB. I ordered them from the Amazon.co.uk website. I watched all of the archived PMQs/speeches on the BBC Website. I watched a lot of other stuff on the parliament website. The BBC used to have a good archive but they’ve since restricted access to a lot of it. (It was quite a shock to discover how biased they were!)
I always follow a Britain and America website:
I know of Peter Hitchens. I think he’s at the Mail. It’s hard to believe he’s related to Christopher. I disagree with Christopher on a lot of things, but you cannot deny that he takes very well reasoned positions. (And, I find it hard not to support any plan to get rid of Saddam simply for humanitarian reasons. Isn’t this what being liberal is supposed to be all about? I’m a former Democrat, so I’m often surprised at the lack of moral conviction the party seems to have these days).
BLAIR “A LONE VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS “
I’m no fan of Bill Clinton though I voted for him twice. I feel (as do half of America) that he was a libertine who fiddled while Al Qaeda plotted. Bush’s win in 2000 was largely a reaction to just how wanton Clinton was. After 9/11, the 90s seemed to be ‘a low, dishonest decade’ which is the way W.H. Auden described the 30s.
Tony Blair has seen the threat to the world and seems to be a lone voice in the wilderness.
(Bush is there, his heart is in the right place, but he is so inarticulate sometimes I want to scream!) People seem to want to put 9/11 out of their minds and get back to the good times of the nineties again.
I am reading the Campbell diaries (back to front). I wonder what Tony would have accomplished had he not had Brown scuppering him all the time? He is almost like Clare Short in that Tony defends and indulges him all the time. If TB had just challenged and won the leadership from him in 1994, how different would things have been?
TOM WATSON’S 30 PIECES OF SILVER
(Last September, Tom Watson denied that he met Brown to organize his letter writing campaign of the next day. He swore then that he’d never take a ministerial job from a Brown government. Less than a year later, guess who he’s working for?! The phrase 30 pieces of silver comes to mind …)
BLAIR FOR PRESIDENT?
In 2004, polls showed that if TB had ran against GWB for President, he would have won here in the U.S. It’d be a very different world if he could have. I voted for Bush. There was no way I could support Kerry.
Anyway, I’m hoping TB gets a suitable reward, or at least recognition, in this world. I know that’s not why he does it, but I worry for him. Tim Hames has a good article on Blair’s chances in the ME in the Times today:
*IED: An improvised explosive device is a bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action. IEDs may be used in terrorist actions or in unconventional warfare by guerrillas or commando forces in a theater of operations.In the 2003–present Iraq War, IEDs have been used extensively against coalition forces. []IEDs are sometimes referred to unofficially as roadside bombs.