The infestation of Basra with Mahdi madmen shows what could happen throughout Iraq if American forces would draw down too quickly. It has not been long since British forces prematurely turned over Basra’s city streets to local police. Now, the Mahdi Army roams the streets with RPGs and RPK machine guns. Basra has become one of the last Iraqi havens for extremists. If we stop our chemotherapy early because it makes us sick, the cancer will return.
Second, General Petraeus’ plan is working. One year ago, the Iraqi Army could not keep the peace in Baghdad. Today, they have mounted a mission to restore law and order to the second largest city in Iraq, 350 miles from the capitol. Iraqi forces are in the lead. Americans are advising and we may have to provide some support, but Iraqi forces are leading. This is huge.
This is exactly what Petraeus has been planning. The Iraqis are assuming responsibility for their own security. Not surprisingly, they have encountered problems. They will work through their problems. The Iraqi Army will become stronger and the Iraqi people will end up safer. Al Qaeda is on the rocks. When the Mahdi Army is finally disarmed, only thugs and criminals will be left to terrorize the Iraqi people.