The Big Shift - Follow-up

Bing West is a man who knows a but or two about the turbulent atmosphere of the Anbar region.

His book, No True Glory, is a must read if you want to understand how political vacillations can have serious consequences on the battlefield.

Yesterday I opined about how the U.S. is now turning the tide in Iraq by being the "Strong Horse", and how it would be shame if political weak-knees would let the "Weak Horse" win out.

Over the weekend, West posted his views on the situation at the great site, Small Wars Journal, also endorsing the Strong Horse idea under another name.
"It's conventional wisdom now to say that Anbar improved because the Sunni tribes aligned against al Qaeda. True enough, but an incomplete explanation. With inadequate manpower, the Marines and Army National Guard and active duty soldiers persisted year after year with gritty, relentless patrolling that convinced the tribes the American military was, as one tribal leader said to me, "the strongest tribe". Hence the tribes could turn against al Qaeda, knowing they had the strongest tribe standing behind them."
Directly after that, West asks a devastating question that all in Washington ought to consider:
"But why join "the strongest tribe" if it is migrating back to the [United] States?"
Why indeed? The tribes have risked much to join with our strength, why would they continue to risk reprisal, if they know we will be gone in the near future? If our Congressional representatives continue to talk of precipitous withdrawal, we could well see the tribes abandon us to secure their local safety and hegemony. Political words in Washington could have severe consequences along the Euphrates. Words could undo this surge of progress.

Much work has gone in to making the surge and the "Awakening" a success. But it is quite possible that it could all be undone by careless words of careless people who are acting out of spite, revenge, or fear for their careers.

Why indeed?

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