Baghdad, Iraq -- I've been on the front lines here in Iraq for the last month, spending about three weeks in Salman Pak (just south of Baghdad) with the 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, from Ft. Benning, GA, and spending another several days near the Turkish/Syrian border with a Special Forces team.
As one of the very few journalists (out of the hundreds who come here) who actually spends time out on the front lines, seeing with my own eyes the gunshots, the IEDs, the school openings, the public clinics, the Concerned Citizens meetings, etc., etc. -- rather than simply sitting in safety and reporting hearsay -- I have personally seen evidence that the 'Surge' is working militarily. I have also seen, though, how broken and splintered this country really is, and what a difficult -- and perhaps impossible -- task it is to rebuild it in a way that accomplishes the US's goal of having a stable ally in the war on terror. Certainly the government, and the people, must buy into that goal and dedicate themselves to its accomplishment -- something that has not happened to this point, and something which may in fact never happen.
In my opinion, though, it is far too soon to close the books on the idea of Iraq -- both because of the growing portion of the population which does want peace and stability (and is willing to fight for it), and because, like it or not -- and regardless of when or why it came to be so -- a central front in the War on Terror, against al Qaeda and other extremists, is, in fact, Iraq. Whatever decision we make regarding nation-building in that country, we must continue to address the presence there of terrorists whose stated goal is not only middle eastern domination (the establishment of the next "Caliphate"), but the eradication of America and Israel, and of our way of life.
I've seen the torture and killing that al Qaeda inflicts on the people of Iraq -- and, for those who would draw a moral equivalence between them and the US, or blame us for their action, I must say that, having seen them in person, no body, when finished, looks the way one dealt with by al Qaeda does. What they do was not "learned" from America, nor made possible by us -- but they must be eradicated by us, lest their unspeakable and indescribable brutality spread to other reaches.
In another two days, I will be back out on the front lines again. This time I will be in Baqubah (the place AQI declared to be the capitol of their 21st century Caliphate) with the 25th Infantry Division. From there, I'll head back to Baghdad, spending a week with the Iraqi Special Forces and three more with the 1-4 Cavalry in western Baghdad, before heading home around the middle of October. There is a great deal of information which is not getting out to the public in America -- primarily because so few are actually on the front lines telling it -- and, in my opinion, it is of vital importance that people have access to it so as to make a more informed decision, one way or the other, on the US's involvement here.
Photos are available here. All posts, articles, etc. -- whether published in The Weekly Standard, the American Spectator, Human Events, the Washington Times, or simply blog posts -- are available at my site, which is here.
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If you have questions or comments, Jeff would love to hear from you. Send emails to InsideTheSurge@Gmail.com. Thank you again for your support.
- At 7:43 AM, said...
Jeff, I am overwhelmed by folks like you, members of the New Stream Media, who in many ways represent what journalism was all about, back in the days where news was actually news and op eds!