04 June 2008

Reflections on the outcome, not the beginning

"In the end, how we leave and what we leave behind will be more important than how we came." - Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq

Fouad Ajami in today's WSJ:

It is in categories of good and evil that men and women in those lands [the Middle East] describe their world. The unyielding campaign waged by this president made a deep impression on them. ...

To a man, they [the terror "theorists"] have told us that they have been bloodied in Iraq, that they have been surprised by the stoicism of the Americans, by the staying power of the Bush administration. ...

A word about that "staying power". It's called "street credibility", and has been earned in very large part by our Soldiers and Marines on the ground, something Mr. Ajami doesn't directly mention, but Michael Yon has often observed:

Before the war, our people had no street credibility in Iraq. Iraqis thought American Soldiers were soft, and that the body armor was a type of personal air conditioner. But if the Iraqis knew back then what they know now about American willingness to suffer and fight, it’s doubtful that Saddam would have taunted an angry America.

Yet today, knowing our Soldiers to be actually aggressive and able killers when the switch gets flipped to ON, they also see how our people are more competent street fighters than the Iraqi Army, even without the high-tech tools. ... Day after day, Iraqis come to Americans asking for justice, because they see countless thousands of daily actions... The man-to-man respect is there.

Mr. Ajami continues on the macro level, which, to be fair, is the focus of his Editorial:

It is not easy to tell people of threats and dangers they have been spared. The war put on notice regimes and conspirators who had harbored dark thoughts about America and who, in the course of the 1990s, were led to believe that terrible deeds against America would go unpunished. A different lesson was taught in Iraq.

To quote Michael Yon again, "Our military is a powerful tribe." Or as many have said, the American Soldier is our best ambassador. I don't think Mr. Crocker would have a problem with that description.

No comments: