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The War Isn’t Over. Just the Battle

James at OTB:

Michael Yon [1] says that we’ve won the war in Iraq and all that remains is clean-up.

I tell James:

Do not be fooled. There are a number of people who have been leaning toward this false hope of “declare victory and get out” for some time, now. And now that they can no longer claim with any degree of logic that we’re losing in Iraq, they take this approach.

However, like the claims that there’s no way to win in Iraq, this, too, is a lie.

The president suggested a long time ago, that this was going to be a long war… far longer than it has thusfar been. I suggest we’re dealing with a mislabeling and thereby a misperception.

Here’s the deal; Iraq wasn’t a war, but a battle within a war. That our enemy is still active and still seeking our defeat seems to have been amply demonstated near the Afghan/Pakistan border yesterday. [2]

I submit that the war’s not over, it’s just the field of battle that’s changed.

As the the International Relations and Security Network [3]has recently said:

Over the last two months, more US troops have died in Afghanistan than in Iraq, highlighting the depressing truth that, while violence in Iraq may have been decreasing; in Afghanistan, the Taliban- and now al-Qaida-led insurgency in the south and east continues to pose an escalating threat to the country’s stability.

It has also drawn attention to the way that the war in Afghanistan has been, in the words of General Dan McNeill, the man who until recently led the US military effort there, “under-resourced.”

Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted this month for the first time that he wished more troops were available for the conflict in Afghanistan, which is larger and more populous than Iraq, but where the US has less than a quarter as many troops.

“Afghanistan […] remains an economy-of-force campaign, which by definition means we need more forces there,” he told reporters. “I don’t have troops I can reach for […] to send into Afghanistan until I have a reduced requirement in Iraq.”

This, despite the public assessments from US intelligence officials that the safe haven al-Qaida enjoys on the Pakistan-Afghan border is the most likely site for the planning and execution of terror plots against the US homeland.

All of which is why Bush went out of his way to suggest that the enemy would be found and defeated, regardless where he goes. He knew the effectively borderless nature of the region would affect our plans and so it has.

We’ve had a hard time of it in Iraq, there’s no question. And our victory is deserved, and yes we should feel good about it. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that we have a long way to go yet, in terms of the total war effort.

All of this is something which neither Obama or McCain has reacted to in nearly a proper fashion as yet.  Reality, afte rall, does have a way of over-running the best laid plans, particularly political ones.