Saturday, April 26, 2008

Review: Moment of Truth in Iraq

I just read the whole book on 24 hours. It was very gripping and outlines what has happened full of personnel stories and Yon's perspective.

I cannot more strongly recommend that you pick up a copy of this book.

Here's the Amazon page.

The book reinforces how the enemy uses the media as their primary goal
They record (from multiple angles and broadcast what happens, getting footage is more important that winning a fight, as the right footage can have the war lost from within the US.

The book goes into many details about just what the soldiers are doing in Iraq and what their lives are like and some of the things they do.

The Deuce Four used the media and mind games to unravel the enemy. One day the Deuce Four faked an IED attack using an Iraqi Security Force truck as the "target," complete with explosives and flash-bang grenades to simulate the IED. They even simulated evacuating casualties using sand-filled dummies.
The enemy took the bait. Terrorists came out and started with the AK-rifle-monkey-pump, shooting into the truck, their own video crews capturing the moment of glory. That's when the American snipers (Navy SEALs) opened fire and killed the terrorists who were carrying weapons. For obvious reasons the great AK-monkey-pumper smack-down was kept secret for a long time, until, with permission, I published it in the summer of 2005.
Pg 37

Here's a link to that article.

The book does not mince words. It shows how the US screwed things up and how it got the amazing chance to turn things around.

The US for all it's ineptness actually TRIED to help, and our soldiers were much better at killing. While AQ would just kill people for smoking, not growing beards, and mixing cucumbers with tomatoes in the same bag. Meanwhile these 'pious' men would engage in all sorts of drugs, rape, and other debauchery.

Yon goes into depth about how AQ is a cult and a criminal gang and how it works.

Governments that can't take care of sewage loose the people.
Americans are naturally good at counterinsurgency. One might almost say we are good at counterinsurgency, because we are good at removing sewage. We see problems as challenges rather than insurmountable obstacles. It never occurs to us to thick the sewage can't be removed, or wait around for someone else to do it.
Pg 74

When AQ took over an area they couldn't do any services, other than death.

Americans are also good at counterinsurgency because they're good at insurgency. Iraq could be where it is now in 2005 or even 2004. If the Admin didn't screw things up. The Book's first chapters outline exactly what happened, disassembling the Iraq army, De-Bathification, lack of interaction with the populace, very, very poor media relations.

As strange as the analogy is, the chance for things to get better happened because AQ is like underpants gnomes of South Park

1) Kill everyone, preferably US soldiers, but random Muslim civilians if you want, enforce insane "laws" and terrorize everyone
2) ????
3) World domination

So the gommers were able to piss off Iraqis more than the US was, and Pretraus was smart enough to flip them. He did this back in 2004-5 in Mosul, and watched the city he kept stable go insane when he left.

Page 89 talks directly about how AQ had "three queens" on the board, but didn't know what to do with them

Our forces over there are now doing more holding and keeping terrorist from going back, but imagine if you will... what would happen if someone got into office that then "Ended the War."

War is ugly. But if you are going to fight at al, it's important to fight to win. We have created the conditions for peace in Iraq. But out job is not finished. The worst thing that could happen now would be surrendering when victory – real victory, not just empty triumph – is so close.
When our troops start drawing down, as they should when the conditions are favorable, the drawdown must be down methodically, for reasons both strategic and logistic. A hasty withdrawal would only empower our enemies and allow al Qaeda to regenerate. Politics dictates that politicians talk about withdrawal. The truth is right now we need more troops here, so we can get out of these tanks and other armor in Mosul and start walking the streets. The higher truth is that we are so close to winning, winning in the big sense of seeing Iraq be free and democratic, united and at peace (by local standards), that it would be a crime to hold back now. Maybe creating a powerful democracy in the Middle East was a foolish reason to go to war. Maybe it was never the reason we went to war. But it is within our grasp now and nearly all the hardest work has been done.
Whoever becomes our next president in January 2009 must be prepared for an uptick in violence in Iraq shortly after the inauguration. Insurgency is a political war, waged on the news cycle, and our enemies might well try to create an illusion of strength. If the new president is panicked by an illusion and pulls our troops out, we and the Iraqis likely will pay the price for decades, Perhaps generations to come. If we precipitously withdraw our troops, all of the tremendous progress we are seeing will be lost. The region could descend into chaos.
Pg 225. Emphasis added.

There's too much in the book for me to even attempt to summarize, but other things that struck me is the sense that many Americans are under a doom where good news can't get in and their minds are stick in 2005 or how "The military is at war. America is at the mall." Pg 226

Yon also shows how the media is getting better at reporting and being more involved with what is happening over there and having the truth get out, whatever it may be.

One of the saddest things about the Iraq War has been the political polarization back home. There is no doubt that it was an elective war and poorly executed. But some of our own countrymen want to see us lose this war. For may people it seems to be more important that they win the argument than for justice to prevail and Iraq to be free. On the other hand, those who support the war must remember that the critics were often right.
Without the critics we might never have made the great changes of 2007, and the war would be lost today.
I wanted out side to win, but knew that neither mindless cheerleading nor mindless pessimism would help.
Pg 226 Emphasis added.

It's hard for me to not quote more, but Yon makes a very powerful and moving argument for what is at stake here. It would be a victory on the "same magnitude as the fall of the Soviet Union." Remember the ramifications of what "Iraq be[ing] free and democratic, united and at peace (by local standards)" would mean for the region and the world. Then add in the effect of having al Qaeda's mass rejection, expulsion, and combat by "the very Muslims they claim to represent."

"And if we lose, Iraq will be the worst foreign policy disaster in our history. Imagine Vietnam, then multiply it by al Qaeda and Iran." Pg226.

This is something to consider when people bleat about pulling out. They are either ignorant to what's going on over there, part of the group that would rather win an argument at the cost of Iraqi lives, or those pandering to the second group.

The war Iraq is an important event, one that is at a great crossroads, and the ignorance of the average American at what is going on over there is shameful. At least this book can serve as a good primer and more importantly help fund Yon so he can continue his independent reporting.

You won't regret reading it.

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