Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters is in Iraq and writes a column for the New York Post. He offers this, this morning:
Let’s go back to a few fundamental questions, before considering what the future may hold:
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Can Iraq become the model democracy of which we dreamed? No. But it can evolve as a state that treats its citizens with reasonable fairness, hears their voices — and rejects both terror and aggression. In the context of the Middle East, that’s still a big win.
What really happens if we leave sooner, rather than later? None of us knows with certainty. Nor do the Iraqis. But they believe that sectarian violence would explode and that a largely defeated al Qaeda in Iraq would gain a new lease on life.
What happens to the region if we quit Iraq? Iran wins.
SO where are we now, at the beginning of September 2007, with Washington already prejudging and prespinning what our military commander in Iraq will report in a few weeks?
Given the strategic bravado and operational inconsistency — the battlefield fecklessness — of the Bush administration in the past, it’s essential to avoid gushing optimism. But, based upon what I saw, from the dust of Anbar Province to the streets of Baghdad, during Infantry patrols and in interviews with generals I trust, I believe that sober optimism is in order.
Here is the rest of what he wrote.