Secretary Rumsfeld puts post war Iraq into perspective in an article published in today’s Washington Post:
Consider that in three years Iraq has gone from enduring a brutal dictatorship to electing a provisional government to ratifying a new constitution written by Iraqis to electing a permanent government last December. In each of these elections, the number of voters participating has increased significantly — from 8.5 million in the January 2005 election to nearly 12 million in the December election — in defiance of terrorists’ threats and attacks.
One of the most important developments over the past year has been the increasing participation of Iraq’s Sunni community in the political process. In the volatile Anbar province, where Sunnis are an overwhelming majority, voter turnout grew from 2 percent in January to 86 percent in December. Sunni sheiks and religious leaders who previously had been sympathetic to the insurgency are today meeting with coalition representatives, encouraging Iraqis to join the security forces and waging what violent extremists such as Abu al-Zarqawi and his al-Qaeda followers recognize as a “large-scale war” against them…
..Consider that if we retreat now, there is every reason to believe Saddamists and terrorists will fill the vacuum — and the free world might not have the will to face them again. Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis. It would be as great a disgrace as if we had asked the liberated nations of Eastern Europe to return to Soviet domination because it was too hard or too tough or we didn’t have the patience to work with them as they built free countries.
It’s interesting that Secretary Rumsfeld compares Iraq to post war Germany. Another comparison can be made. Back in November 2003, Instapundit referenced a Saturday Evening Post article from 1946 titled “How We Botched the German Occupation.” Here’s a portion:
Saturday Evening Post
January 26, 1946
How We Botched the German Occupation
By Demaree Bess
Everywhere I’ve traveled recently in Germany I’ve run into Americans, ranging from generals down to privates, who ask perplexedly, “What are we Americans supposed to be doing here? Are we going to take over this place and stay here forever?”
Judging by reports received here from the United States, this perplexity of Americans in Germany is matching by the perplexity of Americans at home. We have got into this German job without understanding what we were tackling or why. Imagine how incredulous we would have been if anybody had told us—even so recently as five years ago—that hundreds of thousands of Americans would be camped in the middle of Europe in 1946, completely responsible for the conduct and welfare of approximately 20,000,000 Germans?
How does it happened that even some of our topmost officials in Germany admit that they don’t know what they are doing here? The answer can be expressed, I believe, in one word—secrecy…
The 1946 perspective of post war Germany was that it was going so miserably that even American military in Germany were complaining, yet decades later, the rebuilding of Europe in general and Germany in particular is seen as one of the greatest acheivements in American history.
Three years after the start of the Iraq war, we have those who complain that not enough progress is being made in Iraq and that our military needs to get out as soon as possible. The Toronto Star has an article today which advocates this position. The Nation conducted a forum on how to get out of Iraq. Rep. John Murtha was on Meet the Press this morning and said that Iraq is a dismal failure. Sen. Dick Durbin stated on Fox News Sunday that he wanted the troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. These perspectives are simply too short sighted. The success of this effort cannot be judged in only three years. Post war Europe taught us that the only perspective we can take on Iraq is a long term one. As Secretary Rice said a few days ago, history will judge whether the war in Iraq was a success.
Others who are blogging on the anniversary of the Iraq war:
Gateway Pundit has an article outlining predictions and realities of the war in Iraq.
Mudville Gazette posts memories from the war.
Haystack at Red State says now is the time for resolve, not retreat.
The Jawa Report discusses 100 Veterans Voices.
Update: A reader points me to comments made by The Mesopotamian, an Iraqi blogger, who says this about Operation Iraqi Freedom:
Finally I would like to say to all our friends in the West and America in particular, this: have no fear; the battle is far from being lost. The land of Sumeria, Akad, Babylon, Ur, Nimrod and Ashur will never die. The land where the Old Testament was written and the Aramaic of Jesus Christ was spoken cannot become extinct. The Capital of Harun Al-Rashid and the Arabian nights cannot die. Land of Abraham and the prophets, Mesopotamia is indestructible. Seven thousand years of turbulent history attest to this. Only this land will remain tortured and cannot rest or calm down until it achieves greatness again. This is a germ that has been genetic in this mystic land from the beginning of history. This same history will credit the U.S.A. in years to come to have been the one to arouse this long dormant genie.