Email from the Front

One of my most trsuted sources in Iraq is a soldier actually commanding troops and filling me in occasionally (and taking me to task). Here's his latest comment on the post-Zarqawi situation:

I really liked what you said today about being right (and wrong) on your views about the war. I fly about fifty hours a month in these Al Anbar skies and the first thing you realize here is that you have to be right 100% of the time. You must always correctly estimate the risks of the weather, the enemy threat and altitudes/airspeeds to fly. Now if you can multiply that by over fifty, you'll understand what command is like. So, if you feel a bit of pressure to be correct, imagine if you were supremely responsible for fifty other bloggers who, if wrong, could lose their lives. Not complaining at all, really want to help you with some perspective as I would guess you have taken some very tough criticism recently (some from me).

I would say if I was to recommend anything to someone with a good amount of pressure, it would be the same as I recommend to my pilots. BALANCE! Embrace the pressure and the risk and go with it and at all costs, don't let fear and emotions cloud your judgment.

You know as well as I do that Zarqawi's death will not change things dramatically here as that is seriously a micro-event. The financial incentive to keep this war going - illegal corruption in the oil sector under the cover of chaos - is a macro-event that is so much larger that it trumps any desire to end this thing. The intensity, which most think has increased has dramatically decreased against US forces and turned toward the easiest means to keep this going, which is to have the Iraqis kill each other. Zarqawi was a master at stoking those flames so it will (already has) get very interesting.

More reason to hope, and to doubt. BALANCE!