Surge protection

Readers may remember our editorial May 27 in which we called for pulling our troops out of Iraq if the planned summer surge didn't yield positive results.

Given this section's stance in support of the war, many of you might have checked the front page to make sure the correct newspaper was thrown in your driveways.

But amid our support of President Bush and his administration's war strategy, events in Iraq earlier this year gave every impression that our troops were little more than sitting ducks in a sectarian war.

Now some of those positive results we talked about have come, borne out in Gen. David Petraeus' appearance before Congress last week. Despite contrary static from the anti-war crowd, the surge is working, and the general says it can keep working if the military is given enough time.

But time is a precious commodity in this war, and the American public may find itself increasingly reluctant to support the fighting for much longer.

Not that Americans aren't willing to sacrifice. They absolutely are - but under two important conditions: It has to be a compelling mission, and it must demonstrate significant progress. The White House has had trouble showing either.

Obviously, there are still obstacles. The architects of our mission in Iraq didn't plan well for the mess that unfolded. The world hasn't truly joined in on the war on terror, leaving the United States to slug it out with precious little help. Given what our troops are tasked with, they are doing an incredible job.

Unfortunately, the fact that this is a global war on terror hasn't sunk in with Democrats, who are great at barking orders to pull our troops out but can't manage to form strategies to achieve victory.

That hasn't seemed to have sunk in with the Iraqi parliament, either, who responded to the summer surge by taking a monthlong summer vacation. Iraqis clearly haven't done enough quickly enough, and that's yet another burden America has had to bear in this war.

Then there's Iran's role in all this. Why isn't anything being done about it? That rogue nation is training and equipping insurgents to fight Coalition forces in Iraq. Iranian-made mortars, rockets and other explosives are coming across its border into Iraq, followed by Iranian military ready to train terrorists how to use them.

That is what the United States is faced with in Iraq - and Americans now are being asked to invest more time in.

President Bush, in his address to the nation Thursday, promised that 5,700 troops would return home by December. However, troop numbers likely will not be reduced substantially until next summer. That seems awfully far away - so far away that national support for the war could erode past a point of no return.

True, a lot could happen in those coming months. But the success of the summer surge must be viewed with a cautious optimism. The United States has shown progress on several fronts in Iraq, but may be approaching the limit of what it can do. At that point, it will be up to the Iraqis to nurture its infant democracy before terrorists strangle it in its cradle.

If we can't fight at full strength and ruthlessly rout the enemy, then we need to come home.

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Fri, 12/09/2016 - 23:31

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