Somebody has to write this. The United States has won the war in Iraq.OK, so Rick Martinez isn't a regular McClatchy columnist -- that's too bad for McClatchy. Martinez is superior to any of McClatchy's regular columnists.
I'm compelled to proclaim victory because, these days, winning wars has become politically incorrect in Western societies. So much so that some political leaders opposed to the war refuse to recognize the definition of victory or to utter the word.
More than five years after the invasion, I still come across people who say they don't know what victory in Iraq means. That's on purpose. Feigning ignorance allows them to deny the obvious political and military progress that has been made and continues to be made each day.
The truth is, President Bush has been consistent in defining victory. Bottom line, it's leaving behind a functional and democratic Iraq capable of defending itself from internal and external threats. Iraq is on an irreversible path to meeting those goals. Even Bush has raised the specter of "time horizons" for troop withdrawal. Previously, the president eschewed timelines, maintaining that troop reduction would be dictated by conditions on the ground. Security has improved so much in the past 18 months that Bush is not only open to troop withdrawals, American forces in Iraq could actually dip below 100,000 by the end of this year, down from approximately 140,000 today.
The reason for victory is simple -- the 30,000-troop surge that began in early 2007 and concluded less than a month ago has worked. The security it provided has allowed for consistent, if glacial, political progress and maturation of Iraqi national and local governance. Decreasing violence has allowed momentum in the reconstruction and redevelopment of the nation's long-neglected and deteriorating infrastructure.
Of particular interest to Americans is Iraqi oil production. Iraq is producing approximately 2.5 million barrels a day, a tad more than its peak under Saddam's reign. Of that, 1.7 million barrels are exported. Production is expected to reach 3 million barrels, possibly by the end of 2008. The consistently increasing output is good news for the pinched American motorist, but it's great news for the Iraqi soldier.
THE IRAQI ARMY IS NOW VERY WELL FUNDED. That considerable oil money (the price of oil is four times what it was before the war) has supported unprecedented real growth in the army. In less than a year, the force has more than doubled to 180,000 soldiers.
More and more, Iraqi troops are standing firm in their own boots. They're conducting more of their training and today are clearing out insurgents in Diyala province after assuming security responsibility from coalition forces on Saturday. Milestones such as the Iraqi
Army's assuming control over the province in which it was once routed owe their success to the U.S. troop surge and counterinsurgency.
Yet there are still some political leaders -- among them House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and presidential candidate Barack Obama -- who seemingly refuse to recognize that victory has been provided by the U.S military, particularly the Army and Marines. Instead, while praising our troops' performance, they're quick to credit Sunni tribal leaders for turning against al-Qaida in Iraq, or on Muqtada al-Sadr's restraining his militias. That reasoning borders on the comical.
The turn against al-Qaida by the Sunnis was not a political or strategic move. It occurred because the Sunnis came to the same conclusion we did after the 9/11 attacks -- eradicating terrorism from al-Qaida was worth going to war. Al-Sadr's restraint was not an act of charity or Iraqi nationalism. It was an act of survival. The man is no fool. Had his militias challenged U.S. forces, they would be as viable as al-Qaida in Iraq is today.
There is no doubt that much work needs to be done in Iraq, particularly in political and cultural reconciliation. But for all the moaning about Parliament's failure to reach political benchmarks, Iraqis have achieved more political unity in their country than our Congress has in ours. A peaceful and stable Iraq is no longer in question. It's only a matter of time.
So the next time I come across an Iraqi War veteran, I'll not only thank him or her for their sacrifice in defending my freedom, I'll also offer congratulations for winning a war.