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Friday, May 21, 2004

There's been a lot of commentary (not to mention some heavily slanted "news reports") on the "fact" that we've lost the war in Iraq, or will inevitably lose shortly. I don't think so, but then, what do I know?

There are two Iraqi wars, of course, one military and one political, and victories in both are necessary for the Iraq campaign to be called a success. The military campaign is being fought entirely within Iraq (hopefully with the exception of attempts to interdict men and material being sent into Iraq from outside its borders). The political campaign (otherwise known as the "hearts and minds campaign") is being fought worldwide, but there is only one battleground that counts: right here in the US.

We will know how the political campaign is going when the presidential election returns are in. Despite the sound and fury concerning other issues, I think that this election will be a referendum on the War on Terror in general and the war in Iraq in particular. If President Bush is reelected, he (and, in my opinion, we) will have won the only political fight that matters in the war in Iraq. If John Kerry is elected, the President (and we) will have lost that political fight, and the military campaign will sputter and die, since Mr. Kerry promises to bring in the UN, and three key members of the Security Council are adamantly opposed to a US military victory in Iraq.

As to the military campaign, I have an idea for some research I'd like to see which would graphically demonstrate just how well (or badly) we are doing, militarily. Many people have noted that Americans in general are too easily swayed by individual events, that their opinions on how the war is going depend on what happened yesterday, not what has happened in the last six or twelve or twenty four months. That's true. When you are being constantly bombarded with new information, it is difficult to keep your perspective.

That's what I want: a way to gauge the effects of the military campaign in Iraq over a longer time period than last week's headlines. To obtain that perspective, I would like to see a map of Iraq. On that map would be a red dot for every attack by anyone (Baathist holdout, internal religious factions, foreign jihadis, etc., etc.) since the President declared an end to major military action, approximately one year ago. Since I have not seen such a map, I can't say for sure what it would show. But I would guess that it would show that the vast majority of Iraq has seen little or no violence for the last year (especially in the Kurdish north), and that the majority of the attacks have been in the "Sunni Triangle".

And then I would like to see the same map prepared on a monthly basis since April or May, 2003. These monthly maps would provide a graphic timeline which would show, once the enemy started to operate in an area, whether our counter operations are, over time, successful in preventing him from continuing to do so.

So: Who out there in the Blogosphere knows someone (or is someone) with the time and information to prepare such things? If you know someone, pass the suggestion along.
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