Editorial: Iraq situation is a bit better but shakyRecent assessments of the situation in Iraq by three members of Congress — one Republican, two Democrat — confirm that military progress has been made, but the political situation is shaky.
By: Forum Communications Co. Editorial Board, The Republican Eagle
Recent assessments of the situation in Iraq by three members of Congress — one Republican, two Democrat — confirm that military progress has been made, but the political situation is shaky.
Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., Sen Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., have made several trips to the war zone since the war began. Klobuchar was there in March, Pomeroy and Coleman just a couple of weeks ago. They’ve separately come to similar conclusions. In visits with Forum Communications, the legislators said they saw positive change in declining levels of violence, attributed in large part to the U.S. troop surge.
Areas in Baghdad and other cities, which just a year ago were unsafe, today are experiencing less violence, which, in turn, has spurred a return to normal city life. The troop surge — as managed by Gen. David Patraeus — targeted violence-prone neighborhoods. U.S. troops aided by Iraqi forces cleared the neighborhoods of insurgent cells, thus making them relatively safe for Iraqis to go about their business.
The senators and congressman said that when American forces concentrate on a problem area, the problem usually is solved. That was one purpose of the surge, and it appears to be working as advertised.
Additionally, Coleman and Pomeroy reported that “training up” Iraqi forces to take care of their own country has made more progress than they expected. Every day, they said, more and more better-trained Iraqi military forces and security police are taking over tasks from the U.S. military. Again, the goal of training Iraqis has taken longer to achieve than expected, but it’s happening.
Also on the military front, religious-based militias have changed their focus from fighting each other and the U.S. to going after al-Qaida-backed terrorists, who are killing Iraqis.
The government situation is less hopeful. Iraqi leadership has been unable to hold a coalition government together, and none of the benchmarks for civil progress has been realized, including a vital agreement to share oil revenues among the country’s major ethnic and religious factions.
The situation is Iraq is better, but it’s far from ideal. The three legislators agree that a precipitous U.S. troop withdrawal is not the way to go. All of them realize the United States will have some sort of military presence in Iraq for years, maybe decades, to come. But as conditions improve — and the lawmakers saw improvement — they expect significant troop drawdowns by the end of the year.