Even Der Spiegel Gets It!
Ullrich Fichtner has written an important and nuanced (…as well as long) report about progress in Iraq for Der Spiegel, which should be read in entirety.
Here are some excerpts:
The Iraqis in Ramadi, almost all Sunnis, had been worn down by chronic violence. Many had been victims of kidnappings or blackmail at the hands of mafia-like terrorist groups. They had finally come to the realization that, in the long run, the Americans were less of a threat and offered more hope than the fanatical holy warriors from Iraq and abroad.
Families began sending their sons to join the new Iraqi police force and military and fathers ran for municipal offices. They began cooperating with US military officials, turning in bombers and revealing their weapons caches, all while going about their daily lives, running their businesses, working as contractors, shipping agents and garbage collectors. Teachers returned to their classrooms, doctors began treating patients again and store owners restocked their shelves. Iraqis were now building the barbed wire barriers around the city, constructed to force travelers through checkpoints. Iraqis even manned the checkpoints as the Americans -- the Iraqis' former enemies -- retreated to the background, watching over as the city made a fresh start.
Since June, Ramadi residents have only known the war from televison. Indeed, US military officials at the Baghdad headquarters of Operation Iraqi Freedom often have trouble believing their eyes when they read the reports coming in from their units in Ramadi these days. Exploded car bombs: zero. Detonated roadside bombs: zero. Rocket fire: zero. Grenade fire: zero. Shots from rifles and pistols: zero. Weapons caches discovered: dozens. Terrorists arrested: many.
Ramadi is an irritating contradiction of almost everything the world thinks it knows about Iraq -- it is proof that the US military is more successful than the world wants to believe. Ramadi demonstrates that large parts of Iraq -- not just Anbar Province, but also many other rural areas along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers -- are essentially pacified today. This is news the world doesn't hear: Ramadi, long a hotbed of unrest, a city that once formed the southwestern tip of the notorious "Sunni Triangle," is now telling a different story, a story of Americans who came here as liberators, became hated occupiers and are now the protectors of Iraqi reconstruction.