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New Dawn Coming to Iraq

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Remember Iraq?

The current President has been quietly continuing the Bush Administration policy in Iraq. So quietly that it has dropped out of the headlines. No daily body count, no handwringing about unwinnable quagmires, no sensational exposés about the brutality of U.S. forces. It’s almost like a war was won and nobody noticed.

So, what’s really happening?

General Odierno, the top U.S. commander there, says (pdf):

he’s impressed with progress the Iraqi security forces have made, particularly since the new security agreement took effect in January. “Today, they are in charge everywhere in Iraq,” he said. “We no longer conduct large-scale operations in Iraq. They do. We support those operations.”

As a result, Odierno said, he expects little change in how operations are conducted on the ground when Operation Iraqi Freedom wraps up Aug. 31 and the mission in Iraq becomes Operation New Dawn. “Frankly, the missions we are doing today are the same missions we’ll do on Sept. 1 when Operation New Dawn starts,” he said. “We are already in stability operations.”

Has there been any headlines about the news that the Iraqi Freedom mission is about to be succesfully accomplished? The U.S. military presence is continuing to wind down to 50,000 troops as the Iraqis continue building up their own capabilities (emphasis added):

    • Iraqi Army continues to form new battalions; Iraqi Army plans training on Russian, Chinese and US artillery.

    • 1st EC635 arrives at Taji; Air Defense Sector Operations Center groundbreaking; Q-West Air Base to turn over in July and be home to 3 squadrons of “new helicopters and F16s”; USF-I says there is no final agreement on F16s.

    • 1st of 15 Patrol Boats delivered in US; Crews training in Louisiana; 1st 2 PBs will deliver to Iraq in July 2010.

    • Another class of Federal Police Graduate “Carabinarei”; 3rd graduation of Kurdish Zerevani Police from this training; New Emergency Battalion identified in Tal Afar.

We’re handing over back an airbase. Their men are training in Louisiana. These should be two great points for a President to mention, given the rest of the current headlines. The U.S. is proving with its actions that it does not want an empire. Louisiana is more than hurricanes and oil slicks.

But to bring any of this to public attention would support a conclusion that Bush got at least one thing right. His steady persistence built a functioning arab democracy in the Middle East.

With more than a couple of terrorist bombings each month, Iraq is still not as peaceful as Chicago. Not yet, anyway.