It's truly heartening to read one small story of success in Iraq, where much larger numbers of U.S. and Iraqi troops actaully succeeded in bringing a modicum of tenuous order to a Baghdad neighborhood called Dora. How did they do it? Money quote:
In a country long on disappointment and short on hope, Dora represents only the embryo of progress. It was the first of several violent neighborhoods covered by a new Baghdad security plan — which seeks to create walled-in sanctuaries where economic development can grow in an environment of safety — and American and Iraqi officials are still struggling to make residents feel safe enough to let their children play in the streets.
The local progress is coming as death tolls across the country have been soaring, up more than 50 percent in recent months, according to the latest Pentagon assessment. And in Baghdad as a whole, the toll has been high, with the city's morgue reporting more than 334 people killed or found dead from Aug. 24 to the end of the month.
Most of those deaths occurred in areas without a reinforced military presence.
My italics. Even now, after three years of spiraling anarchy, sufficient troop levels can provide the security and order without which democracy and progress are impossible. Can you imagine what we might have achieved if this president had actually committed the resources to win in Iraq? Can you imagine how a secure and democratic Iraq could now be isolating Iran, rather than the other way round? Last week, in an intellectually barren and politically vile speech, Don Rumsfeld accused opponents of the Bush administration's Iraq policy of being "appeasers." The truth is the opposite. Rumsfeld is the true appeaser, along with the president and vice-president: men who faced a defeatable enemy and chose to send just enough troops to lose. They are the true Chamberlains of our time: too weak to commit to victory and too proud to let others do the job instead.
(Photo: Franco Pagetti/Time.)