There are so many great things about this report from Iraq by John Burns of the New York Times, I wasn’t sure where to start commenting.
First, General Rick Lynch gives an honest assessment of what is required to keep security in Iraq. Second, Lynch and his fellow Americans have promised the Iraqi civilians they will not leave them in the hands of terrorists any longer. Congress needs to make that same promise.
But it was this passage that really caught my attention.
General Lynch said he was “amazed” at the cooperation his troops were encountering in previously hostile areas. He cited the village of Al Taqa, near the Euphrates about 20 miles southwest of Baghdad, where four American soldiers were killed in an ambush on May 12 and three others were taken hostage. One of the hostages was later found dead, leaving two soldiers missing. Brig. Gen. Jim Huggins, a deputy to General Lynch, said an Iraqi commander in the area had told him on Saturday that women and children in the village had begun using plastic pipes to tap on streetlamps and other metal objects to warn when extremists were in the area planting roadside bombs and planning other attacks.
“The tapping,” General Huggins said, was a signal that “these people have had enough.”
General Lynch also challenged an argument often made by American lawmakers who want to end the military involvement here soon: that Iraqi troops have ducked much of the hard fighting, and often proved unreliable because of the strong sectarian influence exercised by the competition for power between Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish political factions.
“I don’t know,” he said, how American war critics had concluded that the new American-trained Iraqi Army was not up to the fight. “I find that professionally offensive,” he said, after noting that there were “many Iraqi heroes” of the fighting south of Baghdad. “They’re competent,” he said. “There’s just not enough of them.”
There also are not enough American heroes in our political establishment as well.