Here we have an emblem of the successful military campaign we have ultimately waged in Iraq. It should be a cause for celebration. And yet, outside of the political spin machine, this event cannot responsibly be celebrated. The peace in the province is tenuous and provisional. Any number of events could set off another cycle of extreme violence.
For those thinking clearly on Iraq, Anbar is simply another step towards the inevitable departure of American troops. A departure that portends – without the American financial, diplomatic, and military presence – a collapse into civil war and chaos.
So I meet this news with bittersweet emotions. Congratulations to GEN. Petraeus and the troops for a job well done.
But to al-Maliki and the Iraqis, all of whom are already looking to consolidate their positions, you must not lose the peace. Soon, by your own request, America will leave. We don’t want to go back. Keep the hard fought gains and make your country great. Make every doubter look the fool.
To Bush and the entire neocon cohort who brought us this war: You are war criminals and I look forward to charges being brought against you by the Hague. This is the least you deserve. If we’re lucky, we’ll get another Saddam Hussein after all is said and done. But for the lives lost (more than 4,000 American; tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Iraqis) the soldiers wounded (more than 30,000 American), and the treasure borrowed and spent, you deserve much, much worse.
That’s the meaning of Anbar.