Michael Ubaldi, May 27, 2005.
After Operation Matador in Qaim, Iraq came Operation Peninsula south of Baghdad; and then Squeeze Play inside the capital; followed by New Market in Haditha and greater Al Anbar Province; and yesterday, Iraq's ministers of defense and the interior announced Operation Thunderbolt, the latest in a rapid sequence of what Wretchard of Belmont Club calls "battalion-sized blows."
For cynics and skeptics this impressive thrust of Iraqi and Allied force against a terrorist amalgam is redundant and in vain, on grounds that a successful military liberation would not have required moderate-scale offensives bisecting the country two years after officially ending major combat operations; but that requires believing Iraq's troubles are only self-inflicted and self-contained. The reportedly maimed terrorist leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is an al Qaeda import from Jordan; he drives gangs of foreigners in naked attempts to disrupt and destroy the way of life overwhelmingly embraced by the Iraqi people. The only notable malcontent from the country is Iran's grotesque marionette Muqtada al-Sadr who, after recently preying on college co-eds in the southern city of Basra, was driven back down by peaceful protest. Ba'athist Syria, reeling from an expulsion from Lebanon and consequent internal democratic unrest, has repeatedly provided the free world with evidence of its desperate assault on a liberal, free-market Iraq. A merciless superintendence has kept Syria under the Assad regime for decades; the February arrest of Saddamites and last week's terrorist-interdiction claim, when Syrian officers work in Baghdad alongside terrorists, only begs how Damascus chooses a speculative sacrifice.
Near East dictatorships spared Saddam Hussein's abrupt end are losing their war, their last war, against the free world; for combative regimes, that cascade follows the campaign in Iraq. Retired General Robert Scales was correct when he told Brit Hume three months ago that "absolutely," good things were to come of the Iraqi security forces assembled and trained by the Allies: overcoming criticism and early embarrassing failures, police and soldiers have not only surpassed the enemy in size and capability but are nearing a relatively close parity with American and multinational troops, one from which they can reliably trade operational postures. The enemy does not have any advantage: Syria's position in the wake of Lebanese independence is increasingly compromised; Iran's manipulation of Europe's appeasers is hardly a reflection of its weaknesses, culturally inferior to the Shiites of Iraq and Lebanon, and straining under staccato democratic riots; putative American allies Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others can only hope to slow liberalization, the smallest gains of political expression enough to turn popular attention away from fantasies about Washington and Jerusalem, and to their respective capital cities.
The two sides — good and evil — cast Iraq as the world's lodestone for emancipation. One catalyst was intentional, the other totally unforeseen — at least by men. America, human dignity's single most powerful national influence and advocate, laid a template on Iraq; hope met diligence and the occupation succeeded in founding a common good. The Iraqis, and those around them, have taken to it. Iraq's enemies, in sharp irony, will have made the free country, through their abuse and carnage, much stronger in heart and hand than we could have imagined. That preeminence began with the spring offensive.
See more: Briefs