Please, Mr. Melville. Now that we have learned that I engage in wishful thinking, that the president's speech was "just plain dumb," and that Victor Davis Hanson is the official historian of "that parallel universe," may we risk injecting some facts into this conversation?
I don't know on what basis you maintain that what Gen. Petraeus told me is not fact. If there are contrary facts we should know, then out with them, man. And while we're doing so, let me reflect on another conversation I had on 16 September. It was with a chap named Gen. George Casey, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. He told me, directly and without hesitation, that the people in Tal Afar, in early September, sent their delegates to ask the Iraqi central government to come into their town and clean out the terrorists. That operation, which concluded around the time I spoke to Gen. Casey, was enormously successful. American and Iraqi forces captured or killed about 80% of those sought in Tal Afar. How could this have happened if the Iraqi government and its armed forces weren't respected by the leaders of Tal Afar? And those leaders, by the way, are a mixed bag including Turkomans.
I do not say that we've won in Iraq. I'm sure we aren't even winning the larger war on terrorists and the nations that support them. But to say that we're deluding ourselves about the steady and significant improvement in Iraqi forces is simply wrong at this juncture.
You say Mr. Bush should admit it if he wanted to take on Syria and Iran? He can't admit what isn't true. But it should be, because no matter if we stay in Iraq for another six months or another sixty years, terrorists will still be fed, armed, funded, and nurtured by the other terrorist nations. Unless and until we take the war to the source of the problem, nothing will be won. But much can be lost.
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