Michael Yon on Hugh Hewitt
Michael Yon is interviewed by Hugh Hewitt:
HH: Now Michael Yon, a lot of people don’t know the significance of Baquba. And so can you explain what peace in Baquba means for the larger war effort?
MY: Well, it’s huge, because al Qaeda had claimed Baquba as their capitol, their worldwide capitol. And you might recall one of the things that kind of upsets people about my reporting is I said Iraq was in a civil war, and I said that way back in February of 2005, and I continue to do so. But when I first wrote that, I was in Baquba, in 2005, and I spent two or three months here. And it was just total…you could see it, and you could see al Qaeda was trying to foment that civil war, because that’s their underlying strategy, is to do that. And so getting, fracturing al Qaeda here, and al Qaeda alienating so many Iraqis, it’s helping us to put a damper on the civil war.
HH: Now yesterday, Harry Reid said on the floor of the Senate that the surge has failed. Do you think there’s any factual basis for making that assertion, Michael Yon, from what you’ve seen in Iraq over the last many months?
MY: He’s wrong, he’s wrong. It has absolutely not failed, and in fact, I’m finally willing to say it in public. I feel like it’s starting to succeed. And you know, I’m kind of stretching a little bit, because we haven’t gone too far into it, but I can see it from my travels around, for instance, in Anbar and out here in Diyala Province as well. Baghdad’s still very problematic. But there’s other areas where you can clearly see that there is a positive effect. And the first and foremost thing we have to do is knock down al Qaeda. And with them alienating so many Iraqis, I mean, they’re almost doing it for us. I mean, yeah, it takes military might to finally like wipe them out of Baquba, but it’s working. I mean, I sense that the surge is working. Reid is just wrong.
There will be two types of answers to Michael Yon's assertion by critics of the war. The first will be that he is wrong in his assessment. But the more common answer, at least in private will probably be, "it doesn't matter. Political support for the war has evaporated. The project is broken. It might have been possible to win it once, but not now. Even if the Surge is working."
To some extent the breakage is due to the mistakes of GWB and the Pentagon. But to a certain degree -- and we can argue by how much -- the breakage is desired outcome of those who politically opposed the war and now feel that their goals are within reach. It will be argued by some opponents of the war that they merely pointed out the failings of its conduct. But some of the more forthright will proudly say "we made the war fail". We stopped US Imperialist aggression.
But the real problem is whether either answer will satisfy the questions of history. Because History will flow on from whichever reply the US political system gives to the Iraq problem into the chosen branch. And whatever lies beyond.