VI Day — The Sequel

We’re talkin’ Victory in Iraq (again) Day. According to a source in the secretary of defense’s office, he and colleagues are confident that unrest in Iraq is fast-tracking to the “but-a-memory” category. “Things are at least three times better than what you read or see,” he said of print and broadcast coverage. In contrast, he admits Afghanistan is a different story, slipping away (possibly from a Western ideal), awash in an insurgency that the U.S., Afghan and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) forces cannot control. Pretty tough to trump a Taliban that brings improvement to daily life — something al-Qaida in Iraq has not been able to do.
Our defense official cited May’s low casualty figure in Iraq as proof, though a solitary marker for a single month may be an unreliable gauge. 

We found it odd that our defense friend passed the good news along. Was he hoping we’d pimp (as we are) what might be shakey information or overly optimistic (dare we guess) propaganda? Last month, CIA Director Michael Hayden reported the “near-strategic defeat” of al-Qaida in Iraq. Within two days of our conversation, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published a similar VI-2 theme. Kimberly Kagan, president of the Institute for the Study of War, and Frederick W. Kagan, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, gushed that Iraq’s security forces can claim victory over illegal Shiite militias (not to be confused with legal, independent thugs) and Iranian-back Special Groups (gangs of thugs). 

Their argument was unusually overstated (especially for the reliable WSJ), crediting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with the remarkable success — victories over al-Qaida in Anbar, Diyala, Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra and ridding Sadr City of the Iranian-backed thugs. If the Kagans’ description is accurate, can we expect Maliki to find a cure for cancer, solve the vexing Israeli-Palestinian puzzle, and correct the challenges of the U.S lending industry? In his spare time he maybe he could go mano a mano with an American soldier or Marine and cagefight for the forces, because they don’t seem to have much else to do — if the Kagans are accurate.

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