Today's Guardian article ("Military Chiefs Give US Six Months to Win Iraq War") misrepresents the Baghdad advisers. So much so, it makes me doubt the reliability of the single, unidentified source responsible for much of the article's reporting.
I hope SWJ colleagues will forgive this more "personal" post than usual, but as Senior Counterinsurgency Adviser I have a duty to set the record straight on this.
There is a real country called Iraq, where a real war is going on, with real progress but very real challenges. We are not going to "win the war" in six months -- nor would anyone expect to. But the Guardian seems to be describing some completely different, (possibly mythical) country, and some imaginary group of harried and depressed advisers bearing no resemblance to reality. As counterinsurgency professionals, we take an evidence-based approach and we are well aware of the extremely demanding task we face. That makes us cautious realists -- but we are far from pessimists, as the Guardian's anonymous source seems to imply.
The article is littered with inaccuracies:
Yes, of course, there are still car bombings. But several recent bombings have been Sunni-on-Sunni, rather than sectarian, with extremists targeting moderates to discourage them from cooperating with the government. That means sectarian violence, overall, is down, and that extremists are worried they are losing support from their base -- both good things, despite the appalling violence against innocents we have come to expect from these extremists.
And yes, there is a risk that home-front political will might collapse just as we are getting things right on the ground. Given some commentators' overall negativity, one suspects that their efforts may be directed to precisely that end. You may not like the President, you may be unhappy about the war. But whose side are you on? The Iraqis trusted us, and this is their fight. They deserve our support.
Buried in the article, though, are some references to real-world progress:
Unfortunately most of these developments are buried in the last paragraph of a long article.
The Guardian is entitled to its own view of the war, and reasonable people can differ on these issues. But the Guardian's view is not ours, and the anonymous source misrepresents our views. It is really too soon to tell how things will play out, though early signs are encouraging so far, and the advisers as a group remain cautious realists, not pessimists.
(As ever, though I have "permission to post", these are my own personal views and were not screened or vetted by anyone).