A True Believer

Michael Yon isn’t just an author who has chronicled the dramatic turnaround of the military situation in Iraq; Michael Yon is a Believer. A Believer in the great Bushite Consummation in which Iraq becomes, among other things, a close, permanent friend of the United States. And what is his basis for this Belief? As becomes evident in his article in the November 24 New York Post, it is the increasing cooperation and trust between Iraqi security forces and their American instructors. In the manner of all half-baked thinkers relying on inapt analogies, Yon makes this relationship between military forces, born of the extreme circumstances of counterinsurgency warfare, his model for a kind of blood brother relationship between Iraq and the U.S., with the two countries united intellectually, culturally, spiritually, and through bonds of affection. And this Belief, in which Yon is obviously deeply invested, renders him thoroughly unbelievable—as unbelievable, deluded, and dangerously divorced from reality as, say, Bush former speech writer Michael Gerson, the principal source of Bush’s more lunatic statements about the inevitable spread of democracy in the Muslim world and about the vileness of disbelieving in that inevitability.

Here is the last section of Yon’s article:

Surely, one could pick up a brush and approach a blank canvas using colors from the palette of truth, and, with a cursory glance, smear Iraq to look like a Third World swamp. But Iraq is a complicated tapestry with great depth and subtle beauty. This land and its people have great potential to become a regional learning center of monumental importance.

Iraqis are tired of war and ready to get back to school, to business and to living life as it should be.

Last week, I shed my helmet and body armor and walked in south Baghdad as evening fell. The US soldiers who took me along were from the battle-hardened 10th Mountain Division; about half the platoon were combat veterans from Afghanistan and/or Iraq. Though most were in their 20s, they seemed like older men. None had even fired a weapon during this entire tour, which so far has lasted more than eight months, in what previously was one of the most dangerous areas of Iraq.

Americans and Iraqis had, in those earlier times, been killed or injured on the very streets we patrolled that day. Patched bullet holes pocked nearly every structure as if concrete-eating termites had infested, and there was resonance of car bombs once detonated on these avenues.

Now, the SOI (Sons of Iraq; what pessimists used to scathingly call “America’s Militias”) are monitoring checkpoints. I talked with an SOI boss and found that he was getting along side-by-side with the neighborhood NP [National Police] commander, and in fact they were laughing together. Those who derisively called the SOI “America’s Militias” have lost much credibility, while the commanders who supported the movement have earned that same credibility.

Though we are still losing American soldiers in Iraq, the casualties are roughly a tenth of previous highs. Attacks in general are down to about the same.

I asked some Iraqis, “Why are the terrorists attacking mostly Iraqis instead of Americans?” One man explained that the terrorists see the Iraqi army getting stronger and unifying with police, and the terrorists fear the Iraqi government.

Focusing on a few “Iraqi trees,” one could make the argument that the war is ongoing and perilous. But to step back and look at “the forest,” one cannot escape the fact that Iraq’s long winter is over, and the branches are budding.

Iraqis and Americans aren’t natural enemies. We have no reason to fight each other, and we understand each other far better than we did back in 2003. True bonds have been formed. Iraq and America realize that we have every reason to cooperate as allies.

But the greater, much more important, milestone will be the day when American, British and Polish students are studying in Iraq, while Iraqi students are studying in our countries. Cementing these ties takes time and patience. But we can do it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 25, 2008 07:03 AM | Send

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