Posted by Lex, on September 21, 2008
Retired Army general Jack Keane on the surge, and his contributions to it:
Minimal,” “just another set of eyes,” “given more credit than I deserved in all of that.”
The U.S. came “within weeks or months” of defeat in Iraq in 2006, (Keane) says. The consequences of that were “unacceptable” for the region, “not to speak of an institution that I loved.” And what about the military chiefs who thought the extra battalions and extended service tours would be too much of a strain on American forces? “When people talk about stress and strain on a force, the stress and strain that would come from having to live with a humiliating defeat would be quite staggering.”
Update: Few believed how quickly and deeply Iraq settled into a barbaric dystopia. It was harder still to imagine a civil society emerging again from the wreckage. Yet here we are, according to the New York Times‘ Dexter Filkins:
When I left Iraq in the summer of 2006, after living three and a half years here following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, I believed that evil had triumphed, and that it would be many years before it might be stopped. Iraq, filled with so many people living so close together, nurturing dark and unknowable grievances, seemed destined for a ghastly unraveling.
And now, in the late summer of 2008, comes the calm. Violence has dropped by as much as 90 percent. A handful of the five million Iraqis who fled their homes — one-sixth of all Iraqis — are beginning to return. The mornings, once punctuated by the sounds of exploding bombs, are still. Is it possible that the rage, the thirst for revenge, the sectarian furies, have begun to fade? That Iraqis have been exhausted and frightened by what they have seen?
“We are normal people, ordinary people, like people everywhere,” Aziz al-Saiedi said to me the other day, as we sat on a park bench in Sadr City, only recently freed from the grip of the Mahdi Army. The park was just a small patch of bare ground with a couple of swing sets; it didn’t even have a name, yet it was filled to the bursting. “We want what everyone else wants in this world,” he said.
* Link added 03-22-18 – Ed.