The Washington Post along with the New York Times has been highly critical of the war in Iraq since its inception. A column in yesterday’s Washington Post written by Thomas E. Ricks and Karen De Young appears to contradict that position.”The U.S. Military believes it has dealt devastating and perhaps irreversible blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a declaration of victory over the group, which the Bush administration has long described as the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq.”
There is widespread agreement that al-Qaeda, or as the Post and Times refer to it – al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) – has suffered major setbacks over the past three months. One of the key indicators cited was the sharp drop in suicide bombings, from around 60 a month last January to around 30 a month since July. Foreign fighters coming into Iraq through Syria has also diminished.
Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal who is the head of Joint Special Operations Command’s operations in Iraq believes that the al-Qaeda presence in Iraq has been all but eliminated. The head of U.S. Central Command, Adm. William Fallon and Iraq commander Gen David Petraeus, however, are not quite so bold in their comments, urging restraint, even though they acknowledge that al-Qaeda and terrorist attacks are less and less coordinated and more and more fragmented.
The one thing everyone agrees on “al-Qaeda is definitely taking some hits. There is definite progress, and that is undeniable good news.”
It is interesting to note that nowhere in this column is the “surge” mentioned. The closest reference to a “surge” would be what the Post calls, “The expanded presence of U.S. troops in combat outposts…”
Another interesting fact as pointed out by John Podhoretz of the New York Post is that one of the authors of the article, Thomas Ricks, is the author of “Fiasco”, the devastating critique of the American war in Iraq. Podhoretz wonders if Thomas Ricks and Karen De Young, after being critical of the war for so long, are starting to test the possibility that even after the many U.S. failures in the first 3 ½ years of the Iraq war, they might have gotten it wrong.